Anyone who used Windows Vista in the early days of its launch will likely have not so fond recollections of driver issues that often led to frequent crashes and lockups. Video cards from NVIDIA were especially difficult to get working on Vista early on thanks to drivers that didn’t work well.
At the WinHEC conference, Microsoft talked a bit about failures in driver installations. At a session presented by Microsoft's Chris Matichuk, Angus Kidman from APC, and John Lister of Blorge the failure rate for printer installations was reported to be 11.24% according to automatic reports from Vista.
Many Vista users have had their share of printer driver failures and know that it often takes several attempts to get the driver for printers to install correctly. Printer drivers aren't alone in a higher than average percentage of failed installations.
Modems reportedly failed driver installation 8.64% of the time, storage devices 5.74% of the time and other hardware failed install 4.4% of the time. Video cards still manage to fail driver installation 4% of the time. According to Matichuk, any failure rate over 3% is considered not good.
One possible reason for the high percentage of failed printer driver installations according to Microsoft VP for Design and Development Mike Nash is that a higher percentage of machines now ship with 4GB of RAM.
BetaNews quotes Nash saying, "I think in six dimensions on app compatibility, device compatibility, reliability, performance, battery life, and security," Nash said. "I think in all these things, they're a journey. I think that there are key milestones along that journey; I think that Windows Vista Service Pack 1 was a milestone, both in terms of the code that SP1 represented, but also the progress the ecosystem made in the meantime."
Many manufacturers are moving from 32-bit Vista to 64-bit to allow the use of 4GB of RAM and driver compatibility from peripheral makers for a 64-bit OS is still weak. Nash points to the fact that 20% of U.S. retail PCs using 4GB of RAM were 64-bit systems.
Driver support for printers is traditionally not a big deal according to BetaNews. The rub comes in when the move from 32-bit to 64-bit is made and the drivers supplied with printers aren't 64-bit compatible. In short, Microsoft seems to be pointing the finger away from Vista as the bulk of the reason for the high failure rates.
Instead, it points to poorly made drivers that aren’t 64-bit compatible as the reason for much higher than average rate of installation failures. Microsoft did the same thing when early driver issues were making headlines. For instance, Microsoft blamed NVIDIA for many early crashes due to video card instability.
The problem with the data released by Microsoft when pointing the finger at NVIDIA drivers was that there was no distinction made between multiple reports from a few computers or reports from a wide variety of machines.
quote: Although that's nothing compared to the CRT tv that came in for repair and when opened up had (no joking) about a 2 inch thick layer of cockroaches some of which were alive and some of which were dead. The worst thing was that the TV was in use in the kitchen of a chinese restaurant......
quote: I can tell you don't like Chinese people, secondly, you're full of it.
quote: At this point, whether it is fair or not, it is Microsoft's responsibility to make sure EVERYTHING works.
quote: 64 bit drivers were "required" to be WHQL certified under either 32 or 64 bit Vista.
quote: Secondly, I have a feeling that Win 7 should be full 64 bit with a WOW function for 32 bit compatibility.
quote: EVERY SINGLE PROCESSOR MADE IN THE PAST 5 YEARS can do 64-bit, as far as I have seen
quote: It seems the people who have the LEAST amount of problems are the average users who don't know anything about computers (and therefore are less likely to screw stuff up with badly implemented tweaks and overclocks).
quote: You are doing this because you are a fanboy, I have seen very few "Vista sucks!" people on this site and the ones that do so without reason are usually ostracized.
quote: 9 times out of 10 the computer was a piece of garbage? Really? I have yet to run into that many pile of crap computers that even exist anymore. Most of the OEMs have motherboards made by ASUS, do you really think they make bad products? Intel, Nvidia, etc.? It seems more and more like people reaching for anything to make sure Microsoft is on top of the crap pile.
quote: It has always been the responsibility of the manufacturer to make sure their products work
quote: True, however Microsoft should be making every attempt to push the Manufacturers to release decent drivers
quote: If something goes wrong with a machine, despite what it is, the Average Joe will blame Windows, it has always been this way
quote: Comparing Windows XP to Vista is very similar shades of gray...
quote: but ME to XP was a complete rewrite
quote: 98(actually better represented as ME)->XP is just as big a step as XP->Vista
quote: So drivers that worked in 95 very often worked in 98 and even Me but not XP usually and almost no chance in Vista
quote: why didn't you pressure driver development years before Vista released
quote: They eliminated support for 16-bit code.
quote: No they did change the kernel dramatically so that only system processes have direct access to the secure rings of the kernel. This was intended and as a result, we see far fewer crashes and BSODs in Vista compared to XP. If a hardware driver or process fails or crashes, it shuts down but does not take the kernel with it.
quote: And audio, and IDE and everything else that isn't a system-level process. Only system-level processes have access to Ring 0
quote: Again, the results are obvious, as a hardware/driver/app crash will not take the kernel crashing down with it in Vista.