Ron Fritz of Techsoft 3D (the HOOPS people) provided me this statement on the future of OpenGL:
It's hard to comment specifically on the reports about [Vista-related] performance hits with CAD applications without much more detail. For instance, with most reports it's not clear whether these are graphics issues or whether they relate to certain CAD operations.
I can say that our experience with graphics testing on Vista is that the quality of the video card drivers can vary greatly. With some, we see performance that is quite good, but with others it's unacceptably bad when going through OpenGL. We expect this to settle out rather quickly as the next generation of graphics cards & drivers are released, but this variation will continue to be the reality for anyone with "pre-Vista" graphics cards.
With that said, we do expect [Microsoft's proprietary replacement for OpenGL] Direct3D to be the preferred option on the Windows platform going forward. This will be due mainly to the fact that the card vendors will focus more on their D3D drivers for two reasons:
* First, D3D needs to be fast just to run the operating system/UI.
* Second, D3D is by far the most common approach to graphics for games, and given the high volumes in that market the card vendors will pay more attention to that approach.
From the card vendor's view, OpenGL is used in a handful of games and of course very heavily in our CAD/CAM/CAE industry but our volumes pale in comparison to the games market. In summary, the D3D approach will get more attention from the hardware vendors than the OpenGL approach so we'd expect that to be more robust.
Note, though, that OpenGL will remain important. On any pre-Vista Windows system OpenGL will be the high-performance approach for any OpenGL-based application. I think the world can expect the current hardware & Windows XP systems to stay in use for awhile. OpenGL will also be the best (only) approach for hardware acceleration for any platform other than Windows.