I have recently purchased Particle Illusion 2.0 SE (Version 2.0.4). Initially, I had trouble running the program on Vista as the Stage area would not display properly. Instead of the regular black background, I saw nothing but a gray box. This was also true of the Layers window. The fix was to run the executable in Windows XP SP2 mode. All was well and I appreciated the great effects available.
Unfortunately, feeling bold, I installed Vista Service Pack 1. As you may have guessed, no Stage and no Layers window. Nothing I have tried seems to bring back these much needed program components.
My first thought is video drivers. Try running with software rendering (use the "run with software rendering" option in the Start - Programs - particleIllusion SE menu (may be in a ?troubleshooting" submenu there).
If that works fine, then it definitely is a driver issue and you should get the latest drivers from your card manufacturer's website.
Yes, you were correct. Under OpenGL hardware acceleration, several strange things have happened. If I resized the main window, I could lose the stage (back to gray). By resizing again, the stage would return to it's normal display mode. Further, even when the stage was operating correctly, I could not select an emitter without zooming in quite substantially. When software rendering was turned on everything functioned as expected. I will attempt to upgrade the video drivers. Strange, however that this laptop is less than a year old. I would not have expected driver problems so early on.
Thanks again for setting me in the right direction.