The small kontakt player that comes with GPO is nowhere near as powerful as the full version, but since I'm a man of little money, it works perfectly. The small version allows you to do everything you need to use GPO.
I think the real bottom line about the quaility of the tools relates not so much to which brand sampler you use, but rather what people hear when the press Play.
If you listen to the wide variety of demos on the Garritan.com site (many of which will soon be featured on the new Internet radio station), I think you'll get a better idea of what you can accomplish with the GPO and the Kontakt player it ships with.
I'd say that it rocks, but I'm not sure if symphony people talk that way...
You have hear a wonderful, awesome never before available to the majority, orchestra library with extras to help you get started. When I bought my copy I had Cakewalk HS 2004XL but still used the bundled Cubase VST. Now, I own Full Kontakt and Cubase SE and ya know what? It's not the software that makes the composer useful; it's the composer who makes the software, useful! Buy it, use it, download the upgrades, compose, and post your music with GPO! You won't regret it.
Did I say that right? Darn medication has me running like a faucet!
Others will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you can add GPO to the system you have right now, without buying anything else, and create the kind of music you hear on Gary's site. GPO ships with the Kontakt player, Overture (a notation software program to allow you to write music), a sequencer, and GPO Studio, a playback engine allowing you to save wav files of the composition. In fact, I did 'When Goblins Frolic' using nothing but what ships in the GPO box.
On Native instruments website, It says Windows XP is the supported OS... The funny part is, I can't even find a price for Kontakt on their website, It only has update pricing..... Unfortunately, If I go XP, I have to replace my audio card, It only supports win98se... I have a feeling I'm gonna wind up eatin some dough here.....