PCI Express hardware could beat the software

Often, the power of PC hardware far outpaces the demands of available software. Take today's high-end graphics cards, for example. The Radeon 9700 Pro, which was released nearly a year ago, is still quite capable of running today's most recent games at high resolutions with antialaising and anisotropic filtering cranked all the way up. In fact, I suspect that it will be the fall at the earliest before games really start to make the Radeon 9700 Pro sweat, if then.

Not having a game take advantage of the latest fancy-pants graphics hardware is one thing, but it appears that PCI Express hardware may be available long before Microsoft releases a compatible operating system. This story over at The Inquirer suggests that PCI Express hardware from AMD, ATI, Intel, and NVIDIA could all be available as early as this time next year. However, Longhorn, Microsoft's upcoming PCI Express-compatible operating system, isn't due until 2005. At best, that's six months late.

Microsoft may already miss out on having a production version of its 64-bit desktop operating system ready in time for AMD's Athlon 64 launch, so the prospect of being late to the PCI Express party can't be good news. If Microsoft can't keep its operating system up to date with the latest hardware innovations, I have to wonder if Linux might be able to win a little market share among early adopters by quickly supporting new hardware developments. Already, Linux has beaten Microsoft to the AMD64 punch. Could PCI Express be next?

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