In the last few weeks we ran a poll on our site, asking our readers to point out what is Windows Vista’s biggest problem. Due to the fact that our site does not have high traffic we managed the gather only 534 votes. However the results are pretty conclusive.
Our readers pointed out that, after approximately 6 months, Windows Vista has two main problems: the lack of proper drivers (36% of votes) and lots of application compatibility issues (36% of votes).
We have been using Windows Vista since it was launched and, based on our experience, we agree with our readers.
Since Windows Vista’s launch, the drivers have been a big issue. Lots of hardware components (old and new) had no drivers for Windows Vista or, even if they had, their quality was very poor. One of the most prominent examples is Nvidia. When the GeForce 8800 graphic cards were launched, they were labeled as “Designed for Windows Vista”. It is only natural that many people asumed the graphic cards would work well with this operating system. Unfortunately that was not the case, as the Nvidia drivers had lots of issues. There were numerous posts on Nvidia’s official forums commeting the bad state of the drivers. Some users even built internet pages such as nvidiaclassaction.info to gather evidence for a class action suit.
Since then, Nvidia worked hard on the Windows Vista drivers and released many new and improved versions. However, their latest driver – Forceware version 158.24 – still has plenty of issues. For example, popular games such as World of Warcraft have low frame rates while others crash during play or have corrupted textures.
Nvidia is not the only company that has these issues. Other big hardware manufacturers such as Creative, renown for their sound cards and sound systems, have similar problems. When Windows Vista was launched, their drivers were mostly in beta stages. Even though they released so called “final versions”, their drivers had plenty of issues. Lots of users complained on the official forums and, after a while, Creative announced the ALchemy Project – a project that aims to offer complete DirectSound3D support for Sound Blaster X-Fi products in Windows Vista. Unfortunately, old sound cards such as the Audigy 2 series are not yet supported. Due to lots of users’ request, they started the development of ALchemy for Audigy sound cards. However, according to Creative, this products will be offered as a “low-cost” upgrade.
Having bad drivers is always better than having no drivers. Even today there are companies that do not offer Windows Vista compatible drivers for their hardware. For example, Mustek – a company famous for their scanning solutions, has still no drivers ready, not even in beta stages. Since the launch of Windows Vista and until today their driver download page has remained unchanged. The only thing they bothered to do was to state that “Currently we don’t provide drivers or updates for Windows Vista”. They have no forums and when we sent an e-mail asking for some feedback regarding Windows Vista drivers we received no answer.
Unfortunately Mustek is not the only example. There are other companies doing the same thing and lots of customers suffer.
Drivers are not the only problem. Lots of applications do not work either on the new Microsoft operating system. That’s because many software developers created applications that function only if the user has full administrative privileges. With the introduction of UAC (User Access Control) and other system changes, lots of old applications have problems. The most prominent example of an application that was incompatible with Windows Vista is iTunes. Whenever the Windows Vista “Safely Remove Hardware” feature was used, it corrupted the user’s iPods, requiring a full restore. Also, iTunes text and graphics had display issues with Windows Vista. However, upgrading to iTunes v7.2 or higher solves these issues.
Lots of other applications had or still have problems. Most of these problems are encountered with applications that install legacy drivers in order to function. These applications can be CD/DVD burning utilities, VPN applications, virtualization solutions or even security suites. Other applications just refuse to install even though they could work on Windows Vista. This problem is due to the poor design of their installer. For example, some applications ask for the installation of Microsoft.NET Framework version 1.1 or 2.0. They won’t install even though Windows Vista has a newer version of .NET Framework.
Just like with any other new operating system, problems are inherent. What matters most is that both hardware manufacturers and software developers act in a proactive way and offer the required support to their customers in a timely manner. Unfortunately, Windows Vista’s launch revealed many problems even though Microsoft released it to computer hardware and software manufacturers, business customers, and retail channels, months before it was released worldwide to the general public.
Hopefully, both computer hardware and software manufacturers will fix their issues as soon as possible. And, maybe, they will learn from their mistakes so history won’t repeat itself with every new release of a major operating system.