Earlier this year we reported on Creative's ALchemy initiative to bring EAX support to Windows Vista. Since then, several new versions of ALchemy have been released fine-tuning support for current games and adding new titles on board as well. While some argue Windows Vista is not the preferred platform for gamers just yet, eventually it will come on top as developers shift to fully support DirectX 10 and other Vista-specific features.
The last few versions of ALchemy have been well received by gamers, and just last weekend version 1.3 became available. As Creative suggests, if you have previously tried to run an unsupported game on a previous build of ALchemy, you may want to try again since leaps have been made in just a matter of weeks.
In Windows Vista, Microsoft has decided to remove the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) for DirectSound and DirectSound3D. The HAL is the software layer that in previous Windows Operating Systems enabled an audio accelerator such as the Sound Blaster X-Fi, to provide DirectSound3D applications with hardware accelerated audio. This enabled soundcards to perform tasks such as sample-rate conversion, mixing, 3D spatialization using HRTFs, filtering, and effects processing. Without the HAL, DirectSound on Windows Vista will be rendered in software with no advanced functionality such as EAX.