Nvidia updates Windows 7 beta drivers

Early driver release could avoid repeat of Vista debacle

Graphics chip maker Nvidia Corp. Monday released beta drivers for Windows 7, months earlier in the development process than it did with Windows Vista, when users blasted the company for its sluggish pace.

New drivers for systems equipped with graphics cards that include Nvidia's GeForce graphics processor unit (GPU) are available immediately for Windows 7 beta, the company said Monday. Those drivers support Microsoft's new Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 1.1, the tweaked standard for Windows 7 that debuted in its predecessor, Vista.

Nvidia's early start in delivering drivers to Windows 7 is in stark contrast to how it handled Vista. Although that operating system had been in development for several years, Nvidia was unable to provide final versions of Vista-suitable drivers in time for the operating system's January 2007 launch. Even a month later, drivers for Nvidia's new GeForce 8800 remained in beta, and had not been certified by Microsoft's Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL).

In fact, Microsoft internal documents made public during the "Vista Capable" class-action lawsuit revealed that in 2007, Nvidia driver issues were the leading cause of Vista crashes, accounting for nearly a third of all operating system crashes or lock-ups.

Slow arriving and flaky drivers set off a firestorm of protests by users, who blasted Nvidia on company forums and other online outlets. One user went so far as to threaten a class-action lawsuit, and set up a Web site -- now offline -- where others could complain.

In reaction, Nvidia created a Vista-specific bug-report form, which still remains available.

Nvidia clearly would like to avoid a repetition of that debacle, something it hinted at Monday. "We expect that all of our hard work teaming with Microsoft over the past two years will pay off for GeForce GPU owners when Windows 7 officially launches," Dwight Diercks, the company's vice president of software engineering, said in a statement.

Microsoft launched the public beta of Windows 7 on January 10, but has since pulled the preview from its download site.

One analyst said the appearance of Nvidia's drivers this early in the Windows 7 process may be a sign that Microsoft and its partners are working together better than they did during Vista's development. "Microsoft has been collecting tons of information during the beta of Windows 7," said Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft. "They may have provided the engineers at Nvidia with information so that they can tweak their drivers now for Windows 7."

Nvidia has its own reasons for wanting to get on the Windows 7 bandwagon early, Cherry added. "A lot of people are fighting to be suppliers to the OEMs, and you want a clean reputation when you go in there," he said.

"I hope this is a trend," Cherry added, referring to Nvidia's promise to produce regular updates as Windows 7's development continues. "That would help everybody."

Nvidia's drivers for Windows 7 beta can be downloaded from its site.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags nvidia

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

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?