With the release of SolidWorks 2013, there are some changes in terms of operating system support. The two biggest changes can be summarized as "out with the old, in with the new."
Out. SolidWorks 2013 cannot be loaded on any version of Windows XP. Personally, as a 12-year-old operating system, I'd say XP's time has more than passed! For a mature replacement, we have the excellent Windows 7, which has been out for a few years already. Yes, you can also run on Windows Vista, but it's pretty old too.
In. If you're getting a shiny new PC this year, or you are just really excited about the latest version of Windows, there is good news! SolidWorks 2013 is certified to run on Windows 8 (64-bit only, thank goodness). Note also that we're talking only about "real" Windows 8, not "Windows 8 RT" that you see on the current crop of tablets.
Being an incorrigable early-adopter, I recently reformatted the hard drive on my venerable Dell Precision M6500, loaded Windows 8 Enterprise 64-bit edition, and loaded my applications. In order:
- Microsoft Office Enterprise 2010
- SolidWorks Premium 2013 SP0 (along with Simulation Premium, Flow Simulation and Plastics)
- SolidWorks Electrical 2013 SP0
- 3DVIA Composer 2013 SP1 (the one application that isn't yet certified for Windows 8)
- Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
- SolidWorks Enterprise PDM 2013 SP0
So far, there have been very few problems. Windows 8 comes with Internet Explorer 10, which is a little different in the way it handles some things. I've noticed, in particular, that with 3DVIA Composer, the Technical Illustration previews and the HTML-embedded Composer Player don't play well with IE10. Fortunately, setting IE10 into "compatibility mode" fixes those issues (the easiest way to set that is "Alt-T","b", and check "Display all websites in Compatibility View" in the resulting dialog box). There was also a bug in EPDM that had to do with in-line searching and Windows 8 Explorer, but that's already been fixed. Everything else has been stellar.
When mixing older hardware with newer software, the biggest question is going to be driver support. On the M6500, Dell doesn't offer ANY driver support for Windows 8. When I installed Windows 8, it used it's own drivers for everything in the laptop, including the nVidia Quadro FX 2800M graphics. The display was fine until I tried to rotate a model in SolidWorks, where it was, shall we say, "obviously unaccellerated." With just a little web searching, I was able to find the generic nVidia Quadro/Tesla Windows 8 graphics card driver (302.82) and it seems to work just fine. In time, I'm sure more tested combinations of drivers and Windows 8 will appear on the SolidWorks website, but my M6500 is three generations old (they're shipping the M6700 these days) so I don't expect to see it appear on the list.
At any rate, since Windows 8 has only been released for two weeks, I'm more than happy with the results! In fact, another person here at the office did the same thing on their <ahem> newer Dell laptop, and we both came to the conclusion that our systems seem to run faster under Windows 8. If, however, I run into any new problems or glitches with Windows 8, I'll let you know.