Iain McDonald - More stories from the Windows War Room

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  • User profile image
    After seeing your video, I can appreciate the magnitude of Windows as a software product.

    I would like to point out something about 3rd-party drivers which are associated with off-the-shelf devices that attach to a PC.

    The device drivers are often released for a particular group of Operating Systems.

    The devices themselves tend to be replaced by new versions every year or so.

    When a new OS is released,  the device vendors sometimes release updated versions of the drivers---often late and buggy.

    After going through Windows NT, Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Windows XP, I realized that I was often (but not always) being presented with two options: (1) remove the device from my computer or (2) buy a new version of the device that the vendor claims is intended for the new operating system.

    After five years of wasting money away on off-the-shelf devices, I have radically changed my approach to PC add-ons.

    I rarely buy add-on devices for my PC. I have already removed everything that is not absolutely essential. For necessary devices, I now try to buy generic, inexpensive versions such as those sold by COMP USA.  If the device does not work with a new OS and I need it, then I can usually afford to replace it.

    I have happily been using Microsoft mice and keyboards for the past five years, with no problems. I would like to see Microsoft provide a line of Sound and Video Cards. That way, I know I can get drivers which work. Everything else I can either get from a reliable vendor, or I can live without.

    I don't blame Microsoft for these driver problems. I do blame vendors who produce add-on devices which they have no intention of properly supporting.

  • User profile image
    i think it all depends on the use of the device.  some of what i will say is not blessed corporate stuff, just my opinions.

    there are some cases where specialised devices are really needed - i have a little sound recording studio in my house - the audio input i use is a thing called an Echo Layla - it uses a special pci card for speed.  It kicks * - the drivers are fast & seemingly well written.  the thing for me on that is i am unsure if i will move the device that runs it (a dell pc)  to a later version of windows because it works.

    there are many cases where we had super specialised cards etc that are overclocking (or whatever) that may cause driver problems - now i may choose use that in some situations.  but i would not put them in a device that i rely on to do key things.  i had a machine for a while that was super focused on being a high end game box (after a "small" ac addiction, i never used it enough...) - you can bet i wanted perf. i used a card i knew had issues, but in the case of video perf it was awesome - i weighed the diffrence & lived with it.  but i also used the machine only games & not any of the stuff i couldn't have on an unstable machine.

    final thing - i disagree i would hate to see ms do sound or video cards - i think the reason our stuff is good is because they use generic connection mechanisims (usb, ps/2 or whatever).  doing pci cards/chip designs is not a strong spot for us.  that & the speakers we made a couple of years ago were crap.

  • User profile image
    This points out something interesting.

    The features we need in an operating system (and peripherals) depend on what we want from a computer.

    Working in a small business/govt. environment, I can say that cost management and reliability are very, very important.  Playing games and overclocking devices does not fit in with that culture.

    I won't argue that it may not be such a good idea for Microsoft to produce its own devices (peripherals). I have, in the past, been referred to the HCL to look for vendors who go through the trouble to make their devices work properly with Windows (and verify it).

    The problem with poorly supported drivers does exist. I realize that Microsoft is making a real effort to educate driver writers. I also realize that Microsoft has the clout to advance the state of the art in driver MAINTENANCE.

    If Microsoft won't put it's brand name on devices (other than Mice and Keyboards), then at least Microsoft can enhance its logo requirements to the point where vendors will HAVE TO MAINTAIN GOOD WORKING DRIVERS for all current versions of Win32---even those which have not yet been released.

    It means a lot to me, to be able to distinguish between (2) vendors who CLAIM their device has the appropriate drivers for a particular group of Win32 Operating Systems and (2) vendors who actually KEEP their devices working with all current versions of Windows Operating Systems.

    If I have to replace devices every time I upgrade to a new operating system, then I need to factor that cost into the total cost of the operating system.

    I was an early adopter of WindowsXP.  I had lots of video capture, television and other devices. I took a real beating, replacing a number of devices---some of which appeared to not work properly with WindowsXP (even though they had the XP logo on the box).

    After a year, I switched back to Windows 2000. I would probably not use WindowsXP again, but I am looking forward to Longhorn.

    This time I am preparing to be an early adopter.

    I am going to kiss everything I use today goodbye and start from scratch.

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