AMD’s Catalyst beta drivers have often offered features and better performance for users months before they are turned into qualified drivers with full OS support. Not only are they a good source of leaks, they’re also a good source of information for the company’s decisions for the future. The 13.6 Beta 2 drivers, however, drop support for Windows XP.
AMD hasn’t commented on why this is so, or if they’re moving XP support into their Legacy department. The company last year dropped support from the Catalyst drivers for all families older than the HD4000 series, moving support for those cards into their “legacy driver” department and shrinking down the size for Catalyst considerably.
The latest beta offers up performance improvements for the Radeon HD7000 family and brings some tweaks to AMD’s Enduro technology, which they continue to improve. Under the drivers the Enduro software now knows when Modern UI applications in Windows have have been moved to an idle state, which means that applications that use the GPU, like games or Internet Explorer, no longer need that acceleration, saving on battery life.
It also supports the new AMD Richland processors and brings enhancements to Dual Graphics mode as well as OpenCL acceleration in OpenCL-aware apps. This includes support in Adobe Premiere Pro, which will use the built-in GPU for acceleration just like Nvidia Geforce/Quadro and AMD FirePro users currently enjoy.
AMD dropping support for Windows XP in future driver releases is not surprising. Microsoft announced in April this year that support from the company for Windows XP officially ends on 1 April 2014, moving the operating system into abandonware officially. OEMs like Dell, Lenovo and HP are encouraging their customers to move on to Windows 7, as Vista’s extended support period ends on 4 November 2017.