Vista Updated to Display Low-End Graphics Desktop
Reacting to complaints from users, Microsoft has quietly decided to give Vista
users who do not have the latest display technologies a somewhat "cooler"
user interface than what has been seen in the beta copies so far.
Sharp-eyed Vista watchers had noticed recent subtle changes in screenshots
released by Microsoft as pointing to an improvement over the current "Standard"
or "Basic" theme -- the look and feel that users who do not have
hardware capable of displaying Vista's Aero glass-framed UI facade.
Instead what has been known as the "Scrap Metal" appearance, according
to a posting on Microsoft's Windows Vista Team Blog last Thursday, will
be replaced by a more graphically appealing one.
Users who want to run Vista's Aero UI -- definitely the chief eye-candy feature
coming in the new operating system -- need to have hardware that supports what
is known as the new Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM). (This
was previously known as the Longhord Display Driver Model.)
According to statements Microsoft made on its TechNet developers' site
last winter: "To run Aero Glass, your graphics card must have a Longhorn
Display Driver Model (LDDM). To get the full Vista experience, the graphics
card needs a lot of memory (64MB minimum, 128MB recommended) and must support
the complete DirectX 9 API."
Users who do not meet the minimum requirements will end up running the Basic
"If you don't have a display driver capable of running WDDM you'll
get the Windows Vista Basic theme which does not benefit from some of the more
graphically intensive features such as desktop composition and glass window
frames…[which] is a good, clean interface called the Basic or Standard
theme, but lacking the glass window frames of Aero," says last week's
Unfortunately, the post does not provide a timeline for when the Scrap Metal
appearance will be superseded by the new Basic theme, also sometimes referred
to online as "Aero Express."
Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.