@cmsmith & nekro : Cheers for the info guys! It's nice to know there is still a place for a decent sound card in that it gets better sound quality. I really didn't realise MS took hardware acceleration out of Windows! Let's hope it sees a complete return in Win 8 (and yes, maybe Windows 7 SP2? - but then maybe not
On the subject of drivers, I don't currently have any issues with my X-Fi Fatal1ty in Win 7 x64. I think their drivers improved quite a lot while Vista was about (the original Vista drivers were awful as far as I remember). By the time Win 7 came along, most of the issues had been resolved - at least for the X-Fi cards.