How I got Bioshock to work in Vista:
I'm posting this in hopes it may help some people. Keep in mind I am not tech support, and I hardly have time to reply in most cases.
My specs are as follows:
A8n Sli premium with old bios (new one won't work with other components)
Hercules Guillemot Fortissimo III (fairly old sound card)
Geforce 7800 256 MB of ram
2 Gigs Mushkin ram on standard settings.
Vista (the game prefers it).
Not high end by any means, but still fine enough for high end modeling, Photoshop and whatever other tasks besides games. million polygon scenes, .tif files in resolutions of 6000 pixels or above, particle simulations and mental ray vis with emitters shooting millions of photons on refracting, transparent and other complex objects. Hardly ever bats an eye. I know it should run better.
The solution is a bit stupid, but the problems are comparable.
1) Game will not run
2) Audio stuttering
3) Low performance / mouse lag
Here's my solutions
1) Click the icon until it runs. It runs eventually, it seems to crash at random. Exploring processes bring me no definite culprit, so i'm at a loss as to what else to do.
2) Seems to be a codec conflict, and it seems any codec can be the cause of it, and may change from time to time. In regedit, I export one backup of my registry to the desktop, and name it "End". I then went into my registry and under the keys I searched through "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Drivers32" and manually deleted any codecs not supplied with windows, related to my sound card, or are otherwise unknown to me. Under normal circumstances, this is not too bright, still, I export this registry backup to my desktop and rename it "Start".
3) Before I attempt to start Bioshock I click on "Start" to change my registry to a copy without the audio drivers, and click on the icon until it works. Once finally in game, I press ctrl+alt+delete and go to processes, set "Steam" (mine is the Steam version) priority to low, and Bioshock.exe to "High".
In this way, I am able to run at the highest settings and 1280 x 1024 resolution with minimal popping and no cutout, with fairly smooth rates of 30-40 fps, even with surround sound working, which is acceptable. After i'm done, I click "End" on the desktop to restore my previous registry, though I see i'll have to make these backups fairly often as to not ruin my system.
Hopefully this helps someone somehow, and yes, I admit this is sad. I'm open to suggestions.