Yesterday, Microsoft's program manager for sound in Windows Vista (what a great title!), Steve Ball, posted a blog entry explaining why audio playback sometimes gets glitchy in Windows.
There's an air of post-facto justification about the posting--it basically reminds us that a PC is doing a lot more things simultaneously than, say, a $20 CD player--but toward the end of the post, he notes that it's common for certain older device drivers to lock out the CPU for 10 milliseconds to 50ms, causing an obvious problem.
I'd be curious to know what some of those devices are. Perhaps he'll give us hints in his follow-up, in which he promises to explain some of the work in Vista that is meant to address these audio glitches.
As with many blog postings, some of the most interesting information comes in the comments. One user claims that WinAmp automatically moves its priority to "High," so it "wins" any competition for certain computing resources; there's also the beginning of a debate over buffering, which would solve some glitches but might cause greater latency, a problem for communications applications.