Driver problems still haunting Vista

Why Service Pack 1 isn't in your hands yet

Zipkin blames hardware vendors for failing to strictly follow Redmond's instructions on how drivers should be installed.

"The issue is that the drivers were not written per the spec we have on MSDN to ensure successful updates," he said, a spec that "has been around since the XP days."

Zipkin declined to elaborate or comment on Sinchak's case. And neither Intel nor Macrovision, maker of the InstallShield software, immediately responded to requests for comment.

But some experts think that the problem must be related to under-the-hood changes in Vista SP1, especially those concerning security and user privileges, which can directly affect how applications and drivers are installed.

"Microsoft looks like they are monkeying around with a lot of lower-level stuff," said Paul Morris, a project manager at QualityLogic Inc., a Moorpark, Calif. software and driver testing firm. "In my mind, you've got to treat SP1 as an entirely new OS."

Vista's overhauled security model had two major changes. First, local users who were formerly granted administrator access by default are granted standard access in Vista. Second, a new feature called User Account Control, or UAC, prompts users to verify whenever a new application or driver is about to be installed.

Both moves help to prevent viruses and malware from taking hold. But UAC has been criticized by some users for its overzealousness, though UAC pop-ups decrease dramatically after the first month, according to Redmond.

Moreover, moving users to standard rather than administrator accounts wreaked havoc on many applications and drivers that depended on full administrator access to install or run properly.

If SP1 makes even small changes to Vista's security model, that could cause drivers to break again, according to Ian Lao, an analyst at In-Stat Inc. Why? For one, most vendors took the easier, less rigorous option of patching and modifying their drivers to make them Vista compatible, rather than "rewriting them from the ground-up," said Lao. That makes them more fragile.

Moreover, many drivers, unlike applications, can't be completely shut down during an installation process. The upgraded software - in this case Vista - may not be able to properly update the drivers, he said. Thus, permissions may be lost during the SP1 upgrade, or resources moved to different locations.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?