The year's biggest tech launch, Microsoft Windows 8, is on course for a late-October launch. Before consumers can get their hands on the new operating system, Microsoft made its fit-for-market version (RTM) available to industry partners and enterprise clients. We got our hands on the new operating system.
Windows 8 is more than a new operating system with a new user-interface. It is based on the new Windows 6.2 kernel and comes with a new driver model; in particular, a new display driver model (WDDM 1.2). The new DDM changes the way software interacts with graphics hardware, meaning that Windows 8 could have a different graphics performance from Windows 7.
Meanwhile, the two leading gaming GPU markers, NVIDIA and AMD, have both claimed to be the first with drivers certified to work with Windows 8. We took this opportunity to install Windows 8 RTM on our VGA test-bench, picked a high-end graphics card from each of the two camps - here the GeForce GTX 680 and the Radeon HD 7970 - and made them work with drivers NVIDIA and AMD recommend for use with Windows 8. We put the two graphics cards through our VGA gaming benchmarks with these Windows 8 drivers and came up with two objectives for our review:
- To find out what difference in graphics performance Windows 8 makes over Windows 7
- How NVIDIA's and AMD's drivers recommended for Windows 8 fare