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Microsoft data shows NVIDIA caused bulk of Vista crashes

When Windows Vista first hit market, some driver issues were to be expected as hardware manufacturers moved existing components to the new OS from Windows XP. As is natural for new items, the enthusiast community was among the first to embrace the new operating system.

The incompatibilities were part due to Vista incorporating Microsoft’s DirectX 10 promising better graphics and physics in PC games. At the time, the high-end G80 graphics cards were some of the most popular graphics cards on the market including the NVIDIA 8800 GTS, GTX, and Ultra.

NVIDIA had driver problems with of Vista and DirectX 10 from the get go and delayed their first driver from a December 2006 release to a January 2007 release. Even once the driver hit market, there were wide spread reports of crashes because of NVIDIA drivers.

The problem with reports of buggy drivers is that no one can really tell if the drivers are actually at fault, or if the computer experiencing the driver crash has some other underlying problem contributing to the crash.

As part of the ongoing Vista Capable class action lawsuit, Microsoft released data on exactly what drivers caused the bulk of logged Windows Vista crashes. The number one culprit of Vista crashes related to driver failure was NVIDIA at 28.8%. Microsoft only broke logged crashes out for a few companies including NVIDIA, Intel (8.8%) and ATI (9.3%). Microsoft’s data shows that it was responsible for 17.9% of logged crashes.

The main early adopters of Vista were PC enthusiasts; the hardware of choice for PC enthusiasts at the time was NVIDIA G80 GPUs so it would be natural that more crashes would be logged as caused by a NVIDIA driver. Ars Technica also points out that the Microsoft data doesn’t specify if the crashes logged are from multiple machines or a group of particularly error prone computers experiencing multiple crashes.

DailyTech reported on the original suit being filed in April 2007. The suit alleged that Microsoft knowingly deceived customers with Windows Vista. The suit was given class action status in February 2008.

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So what is WHQL signing of drivers about then?
By Pirks on 3/26/2008 5:10:58 PM , Rating: 5
Do these WHQL guys even test those drivers? I mean what the duck is WHQL is for then? Just for looks or what? Does anyone has any info on what WHQL really does, do they like run any tests or something?? Do they test anything at all?

My Vista x64 crashed yesterday because of ATI video driver. Several rounds of short freezes, followed by messages that video driver is restarted and then after 10th freeze and message - kabooom!

OTOH I've heard a numerous reports about sh1tty ATI drivers or something on recent iMacs caused them to freeze real hard. So looks like at least Microsoft's WHQL checks (or whatever they call "checks") is not much worse than Apple's. Kinda soothing news, huh? :\

By Locutus465 on 3/26/2008 5:15:47 PM , Rating: 2
I can think of one reason why MS would be linient in the early days of vista regarding WHQL... Do you want graphics drivers or not? That's the basic question right there, the assumption is that early adopters will generally be more knowlegable and be able to coap with what they're getting. WHQL certifications will get more stringent as time goes on.

By BikeDude on 3/26/2008 7:30:42 PM , Rating: 4
I mean what the duck is WHQL is for then?

AFAIK, WHQL means the driver has passed various tests that are designed to stress the driver(s) in question. It eliminates most of the common mistakes, but of course there are limits to the kind of mistakes it can catch.

Eventually nVidia have to do some testing on their own...

My machine crashed 10 minutes into a Simpsons DVD after a recent nVidia driver upgrade (for XP). A colleague complained about random lockups with the same driver revision and was contemplating reinstalling Vista. I told him to grab a newer driver instead (fortunately released in the mean time), and the problems disappeared.

Don't tell me nVidia cannot improve the quality of their drivers. WHQL is not meant to be a substitution for nVidia's own QA.

Besides... Have any of you managed to report bugs to nVidia? I've tried in the past, but even easily reproduced crashes are of no consequence to them as they refuse all end-user support.

By Snuffalufagus on 3/26/2008 10:16:44 PM , Rating: 3

If you have an MSDN account you should be able to get the software, load it in a VM or something.

The WHQL process can be a pain in the ass brcause they are so stringent, and many driver developers cry about the various security measures they have to implement to pass the tests. On the other hand MS provides plenty of tools so a developer can debug and pre-test their drivers before submission. Some of the WHQL test suites can take days to complete and are very exhaustive. What they can't do is verify every environment a driver will exist in as far as third party apps and various hardware configs go.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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