Windows Vista Help

Games, DirectX etc.

1. How can I tell what version of DirectX I have installed?

Click on the Start menu, select Run and type DXDiag.exe. On the System tab near the bottom it will say DirectX Version:

DirectX Diagnostics

Windows Vista comes with DirectX 10.

2. Where can I get the latest version of DirectX?

If a new version of DirectX comes out you can download the new version from Microsoft Downloads. It is recommended to create a
restore point before upgrading DirectX as it cannot be directly uninstalled. The History of DirectX is available on Wikipedia.
You can download updates for DirectX 10 components from Microsoft Downloads, even on Vista.
DirectX 10.1 comes with SP1 for Vista. DirectX 11 comes with SP2 for Vista.

3. How do I uninstall DirectX?

You need to use System Restore to go back to a state before you updated DirectX.

4. How do I get games to work in a Limited User account, they work ok as administrator?

You can use the Security tab on folder properties to apply Read,Write,Modify permissions for the program folder in question for a given user or group (such as Everyone or Users).
Windows Vista uses a new feature called Virtualize file and registry settings which is enabled and redirects any read/writes to a special folder in c:\Users\username\Appdata that reflects the folder in C:\Windows or C:\Program files and thus allowing older programs to run on Vista. The setting is configured in Local Security Policy.

5. I have some Vista Accessories or Games missing. How do I install them?

Open Control Panel, Programs and click on Turn Windows Features on or off. Here you can tick a box or enable the components or un-tick the box to disable a component. Games can be found under 'Games' on the Start menu.

6. When I install and run a game it says that it cannot find OpenGL?

You need to install the latest drivers for your graphics Card as the one supplied with Windows will only support DirectX. If you have a very old graphics card such as Intel or Sis or S3 graphics chipsets, you may need to replace it with the latest Nvidea Geforce or ATI Radeon cards to run the latest games, as your old card is no longer supported. See OpenGL website for more info on this technology.

7. If I install a game and it asks to install an older version of DirectX, should I install it?

Yes, even thoughWindows Vista already comes with DirectX 10 and it is advisable that any additional Directx updates are installed for the game to work. If a game demands that a specific version of DirectX is installed, ignore it, use Compatibility Mode for Windows 98/Me/XP instead. If a game still does not work, then it will not work on Vista. You will need to set up a dual boot system with an older version of Windows.

8. When I try to install or run an old game, it asks for Windows 9x, 2000, NT with SPx, XP or higher?

These games were written before Vista existed. Fortunately, Microsoft have had the foresight to add a compatibility mode which is accessible via Start, Programs, Accessories, Program Compatibility Wizard. Run that and follow the prompts to get your program working. You can also access Compatibility settings via the program's Properties and click on Compatibility tab to set options manually.

Compatibility mode

9. I want to run an old DOS game, what do I need to do to get it to run?

First install the game into a folder on your hard disk. Then create a shortcut to it on your desktop like any other program. DOS program shortcuts have extra information in the Properties so you can configure memory settings, screen size, fonts and so forth, like the PIF file on older versions of Windows. If you need special startup settings such as FILES, BUFFERS and so on, you can add them to Config.NT which is in C:\Windows\System32, use notepad to edit it. You can also use a third party product called the DOSBox for more control over the DOS environment.

10. How do I test my DirectX or OpenGL drivers are working?

You can run the DXDiag.exe utility to diagnose DirectX problems with Display, Sound and Input devices by clicking on the Display tab. Make sure DirectDraw and Direct3D are enabled. For OpenGL, you need to download third party software to test GL software and drivers. Try the WebGL Viewer from Finalmesh. For graphics card information try GPU-Z.
In Vista, there are no test buttons for DirectDraw or Direct3D, so try 3DMark from Benchmarks to test your card.

Display diagnostics

11. I cannot install or run a new game and I have latest DirectX?

You need to check the requirements for the game. Some new games require the latest and fastest graphics card for the game to work. Built in graphics chipsets such as SiS or Intel Extreme or older graphics cards such as Voodoo, ATI Rage or Geforce 2 may be too old and will only use a subset of DirectX features.Replacing the card with a newer card such as a ATI Radeon or latest Geforce.

12. Where can I get the latest graphics card drivers?

First try the manufacturer's web pages as they will have their own driver sets. Otherwise try AMD, NVidea, or even Driver Guide.

13. How can I tell how capable my Graphics Card is and which DirectX version it supports?

Most modern AGP or PCI Express graphics cards now support DirectX 9 since 2002. Laptops tend to use older and slower graphics chipsets and will not have as much memory or features as their bigger brothers on AGP or PCI Express cards. Check on manufacturer's website for details. Run DxDiag, and run the Display tests and check the DDI Version (currently 10 is highest, 9 is more common).

14. What sound options can a PC have?

Most PCs now have built in sound chips for producing music and sound, they can be adequate for most users but for better sound, you need a discreet sound card for higher quality sound such as the Creative range. The type of speakers you have also helps which can range from Mono (single speaker), Stereo (two speakers), 2.1 speakers (2 high, 1 bass), 5.1 speakers (Surround sound) and 7.1 speakers (surround sound with 2 more speakers).

15. Where can I get the DirectX Software Development Kit?

You can download the latest SDK from Microsoft Downloads. For Game development try the new Microsoft XNA Game Studio 4.0 Refresh or Unity 3d.

16. What is T&L support in a graphics card?

T&L is short for Transform and Lighting which is used for moving 3D objects and lighting objects in a 3D environment. Most recent 3D graphics cards support it with DirectX 9 or later:

* Intel graphics chipset T&L Support
* ATI/AMD chipset comparison
* NVidea chipset comparison
* SiS chipsets

17. What is Pixel Shader support in a graphics card?

A Pixel Shader works out the colour and other attributes of each pixel on the screen. They can also compute lighting, bumping value, specular highlights, translucency, depth and other features. There are five levels of shader 1-5, the most recent 3D cards can do Shader 3.0:

* Graphics cards and shaders.

18. How do I test FPS (Frames per second)?

A lot of high end games such as Doom 3, Half Life 2, Call of Duty and so on, have a built in developer console (enabled in the game options).
You can run some commands to display the FPS value as you play the game. For example:

* Call of Duty 4: cg_drawftp number (where number is 1 2 or 3).
* Half Life 2: cl_showfps number (where number is 0,1 or 2).
* Doom 3: timedemo demo2 or set com_showFTP "1"