If you’re running Windows Vista and you want to enjoy EAX-enabled effects from your Creative Audigy sound card, get ready to shell out a ten-spot for the privilege to do so. Although initially reported that Creative was charging $9.99 for Vista drivers in general, a post by ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes was later updated to reflect that the surcharge was to enable the processing of EAX effects.
People seem to be divided on this issue of Creative’s fee. Some say the EAX effects are technically software, while others say that drivers of any kind — enhanced or otherwise — should be free. What I find weird is Creative’s description of the drivers, particularly the last paragraph:
In Windows Vista, Microsoft removed the Vendor Extension mechanism from Vista’s DirectSound implementation. With previous Windows Operating Systems, the Vendor Extension enabled the Sound Blaster Audigy to provide accelerated audio for DirectSound3D games.
Without Creative ALchemy, most DirectSound games running in Vista will be reduced to stereo output without any EAX effects.
Creative ALchemy (Audigy Edition) restores your Sound Blaster Audigy’s ability to process EAX effects, 3D surround sound, sampling rate conversion and hardware audio mixing for DirectSound3D games in Windows Vista.
So in essence, you’re paying for a workaround to re-enable EAX effects in Windows Vista because Microsoft disabled the Vendor Extension mechanism. I’d be a little brassed off if I had to pay $10 more for something to work as advertised. After all is said and done, people might be wise to vote with their pocketbooks when it comes to a matter like this. Creative is pointing the finger at Microsoft and Microsoft’s probably not going to do anything about it. Ultimately, the consumer picks up the tab.