Earlier this year when Microsoft released their Vista operating system, there was, lets say, minor issues with hardware and software compatibility. So much so, Microsoft developed a downloadable program that you ran on your computer to see just how your current computer would do if you were to invest in Vista. As a whole, the software side of the issues mainly dealt with drivers not being compatible. This was an easy fix once the manufactures released new drivers.
Now hardware on the other hand was a different issue. If you have visited an electronics store in the recent past, and looked at computer hardware, you have undoubtedly noticed the "Vista Ready" logo on many products. Heck, even the new keyboards have a remodeled Windows key! So who really cares about replacing a $6 keyboard, or a $10 mouse? What if you had to start replacing major components like motherboards, hard disk drives, or even your graphics card? You've just been Vista'ed!
For kicks, I ran the Microsoft utility on my laptop that I use for Usergroup meetings, and to work when I'm on the road. As I guessed, everything pretty much passed, except my video card. Well that meant that I wouldn't be able to get to use the new 3D window 'flipping' feature that looks so cool in Vista, along with all the other cool graphics changes. So I will pass on upgrading my laptop for now.
So what does this have to do with Solidworks. Well much like Vista, SW 2008 has major user interface upgrades which are heavily reliant on graphics performance. For years, the number one response to just about any issue submitted to tech support at Solidworks is "what video card and driver are you using?" So like all good people who rely on our computers to complete our daily tasks, we all went out and bought Solidworks Certified video cards. Heck, many people that went to Solidworks World this year took advantage of those huge savings on nVidia cards they were blowing out in New Orleans. So now SW 2008 comes along, and guess what? Video card selection is more important now than ever. Take a look at the images below. These are the same model. One is open on a machine with a SW 2008 supported video card, the other isn't.
There isn't a ton of difference there, but the performance suffers dramatically. Well you might be saying "Whew, good thing I have a certified video card!" Well take a look at the current list of approved video cards listed on the Beta site:
Is yours on there? When I first joined the beta program a few months back, and saw this on the site, I instantly checked the cards in the shop, and all of them were listed. I then compared the list to the cards that were severely marked down at SW World, and most of those didn't make the cut either. Now I may be risking certain things by posting this screen shot, but I think it's important information to get out there as soon as possible. I'm a firm believer that as technology progresses, the hardware in our computers must progress along with it. How long ago did a 120gb hard drive sound like overkill? Sw2008 will most likely take up about 3-4% of that drive!
So the question is, are these the only cards they decided to use during beta? In years past, the list was never any shorter than normal, so the question looms. I'm putting this out there in hopes that SW will address this issue before we all start to discover that this list wont be getting much longer! Also, it's meant to give a chance to all the managers out there to start submitting capital expenditure requests so they can get their hands on some new cards before the DHL guy shows up in September with SW 2008.
In the near future, the inevitable discussion will arise that SW is in bed with the video card manufacturers in order to get us all to upgrade. Well remember that 120gb hard drive question, take a look around, how much outdated equipment is laying around? Or what do you remember throwing out in the not to distant past that simply wasn't usable anymore? I don't expect the computer that was built for me at the beginning of the year to last me much more than 3 years. In fact I like idea that technology is progressing so fast that we have to upgrade on a normal cycle.
So for those that have it easy in getting resources to get whats needed, I say good for you. But to all those independents out there, I hope there is a viable solution out there for you before that launch day a few months down the road.
If I get any response from Solidworks in regards to this issue, I will be sure to pass it along.