Nvidia announced that it is the first GPU company to ship WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Labs) certified graphics drivers for Windows Vista. The version 96.85 Forceware drivers were released for download on 17 October from Nvidia's website. According to the company, the drivers support Windows Vista x86 and x64 as well as Nvidia graphics processors that have been built since 2002 - ranging from the Geforce FX 5100 to the current Geforce 7950 GX2.
Besides the WHQL certification, the new driver also includes a beta version of DPPE brightness control as well as persistence of multi-monitor modes.
ATI has also Vista drivers for its Radeon graphics cards - and, at least to our knowledge, even a WHQL certified version that was announced 26 September. Nvidia may have missed that announcement and may only be second to announce such a driver.
However, the fact that Windows Vista has not been released officially and remains in its RC2 stage for now, makes it somewhat irrelevant who was first and who was second. Both the ATI Catalyst and the Nvidia Forceware driver are beta drivers with the final versions expected to become available closer to the release date of Vista in January of next year.
The Nvidia driver, for example, also comes with substantial limitations, which make it more of a developer tool: For example, the 96.85 driver does not support HDCP and won't "fully support" playback of Blu-ray and HD DVD media. Also, digital content that requires HDCP support will not play under the 96.85 driver. Nvidia also said that the driver does not offer full anti-aliasing support for DirectX, does not support the pan & scan feature, does not support HDMI, does not include display rotation controls and cannot display the desktop on a TV.
Related content: Forceware 96.85 release notes