However - as with any shiny new toy - there is a bit of a dark spot to contend with, and that's finding drivers for stuff more than a very few years old.
- My wonderful Sound Blaster Live! card that I bought a while back - and paid hefty bucks for! - was declared "end-of-life'd" by Creative and they said they'd not support it for Vista - OR Windows 7.
- NVIDIA didn't even want to consider looking at drivers for my GFX - (7800) video card. I wasn't too disapointed there, Vista (and 7) picked it up nicely.
- My Microsoft fingerprint reader(s) - apparently there was a licensing scuffle between M$ and the folks at Digital Persona - who are the actual end-product manufacturers - and M$ could not get licensing for either Vista or 7. . . This really broke my heart because I have adopted the Fingerprint Reader extensively - I own about seven of the beasties! - and I use them just about everywhere.
Lest anyone get the impression that Windows 7 is a real headache when it comes to drivers, let me assure you that - in my case - about 90% of the stuff I had drivers for fell into one of three broad categories:
- Windows 7 picked it right up and it didn't need additional driver support - or it picked it up well enough so that Windows Update could provide a decent driver.
- A web search at the manufacturer's site showed a driver (or program version) that would work with Windows 7.
- The pre-existing driver for XP installed without a hitch.
Apparently Windows 7 is doing so well - compared to the debacle that was Vista - that manufacturers are having second and third thoughts about withholding driver support!
Case in point:
- Today, I just discovered that Creative has released Sound Blaster Live! drivers for Windows 7. I don't know that they were released today, but I found them today. . . .
(I can't wait to remove the CRAPPY SIIG SoundWave 5.1 PCI card I bought and slide that Sound Blaster back in there - the difference in playback quality between the two is immense. Unfortunately not in favor of the SIIG card.)
- NVIDIA has released to Microsoft - for inclusion in their Windows Update packages - updated drivers for the 7800 series video cards.
Likewise, I'm seeing workarounds for things like my ancient HP ScanJet 3300C - a wonderful scanner, it would be a pity to have to trash it simply because HP won't support it on "7" (Which, IMHO, is an absolute disgrace - even if there were something "un-official" that could be done to help people out, it would be a lot better than having to shell-out for all new hardware devices just because you swapped operating systems.)
There is one big cavaet here - most of this applies ONLY TO 32 BIT VERSIONS of Windows 7. I have read repeated reports of the 64 bit versions not accepting the driver workarounds. Which is a real crying shame. In a way though, this doesn't surprise me. I remember fussing with the 64 bit versions of XP, and getting driver support for it was - well, let's just say it was something of a challenge and leave it at that!!
Maybe there are fundamental architecture differences that preclude 32 bit drivers from working in the 64 bit environment? I remember back when Microsoft moved from Windows 3.n to '95, and then to '98. Driver compatibility between the "old" 16 bit drivers and the "new" 32 bit operating systems was a real issue. Some worked if you faked it, but many didn't, and there were numerous reports of people who crashed their systems trying to fit a 16 bit driver into a 32 bit slot. I suspect we're going to see that same thing again - except (hopefully) by now process fault preclusion has advanced far enough to prevent an errant user from totally trashing their hard drive.
In any event - hopefully the manufacturers will have mercy on our miserable souls and will help us with - at the very least - some kind of workaround, even if it's "on the down-low", until this older hardware goes the way of the full-hight Rodime 20 meg MFM drives - and 8" floppies!
What say ye?