Driver problems still haunting Vista

Why Service Pack 1 isn't in your hands yet

Of drivers and ass-kickings

Drivers were a major bane to Vista in its early months last year.

Despite Microsoft's claim that more than 1.6 million peripherals worked with Vista at its launch, there were numerous complaints from early adopters, gamers and other power users about non-working devices.

"It definitely wasn't just a vocal minority that had a problem with drivers at Vista's launch," said Robert McLaws, a blogger who also tested SP1 but didn't face any driver issues.

Indeed, driver issues had been on the wane. At its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) conference last May, Microsoft said that 1.9 million devices supported Vista.

Microsoft has not updated that number since then. But it says that over 78,000 hardware products are now supported by Windows Update, up from 34,000 at launch.

And 17,000 peripherals and devices (see list, IE 6+ required) have passed one of Microsoft's two rigorous certification programs: Certified for Windows Vista, which requires successful testing by a third party such as QualityLogic, and the more self-reported Works with Windows Vista program, which is more reliant on self-reporting.

"A lot of OEMs did not take the Vista launch seriously," McLaws said. "So Microsoft took their problem reports to vendors and kicked some ass."

In a PowerPoint presentation distributed to media last month, Microsoft was confident enough to state "Many device and software problems behind us: Nearly all Windows Vista PCs have drivers for every single device installed, available on WU [Windows Update] or from vendor websites."

But Microsoft may have relaxed too soon. Morris says none of vendors that came to QualityLogic for certification of their Vista drivers have returned seeking the same service for SP1.

"They may be hammering on them tooth and nail internally, but they're not asking us to touch it," he said.

The result? Monday's delay.

Gregg Keizer contributed to this story.

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Eric Lai

Computerworld

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