Microsoft is trying to start a mini-revolution in graphics power in PCs with Windows Vista, by releasing an operating system that just doesn’t look as good without decent graphics hardware. However, no matter how much consumers may want the better graphics chips, it depends on the manufacturers to deliver them.
While ATI and Nvidia have long made their money selling powerful GPUs, Intel has for a while released underpowered integrated graphics solutions that are popular for only one reason: they’re cheap. As long as Intel was releasing crap graphics chips that could not be upgraded and cost as much as a pack of cigarettes, they were going to keep ruining the graphics power of new PCs.
While we have no guarantee the next generation of Intel GPUs will pack actual power, we can rejoice in one announcement: their forthcoming G965 chipset will support some advanced DirectX 10 features, like shader model 4.0. Microsoft should be happy that new PCs will at least have something resembling graphics power that they can rely on for the operating system, and last-gen PC games should run better.
Still, it is a crying shame that they think there’s nothing wrong with shorting consumers on graphics. While most people can’t afford the latest, hottest graphics hardware, Intel has been giving them something that can’t do a decent job on most PC games, and I’ve believed that it is that development that has hurt PC game sales more than anything. Intel made a statement that graphics aren’t important, and people have in turn stopped buying things that required graphics power.
While supporting some DirectX 10 features is nice, OEMs like Dell need to realize that a strong gaming industry means a stronger PC industry, as game players buy more hardware, so saving a few bucks in the graphics department isn’t good long-term think.
That’s my theory, at least.