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Creative Vista support causes people to fume

Sound and Fury
Wed Feb 14 2007, 10:51
THROUGHOUT THE BETA testing of Vista, one problem with some of our test machines was more prominent than others. When testing using a Creative Audigy sound-card or similar, various problems with the Vista installation would ensue. (See Creative offers workaround for Vista gaming sound)

Like many hardware outfits, Creative appears to have been somewhat tardy developing and releasing Vista drivers, and some months passed between official releases of beta drivers.

Now, nearly a month after the release of the retail versions of Windows Vista, Creative still lacks non-beta driver support for the majority of the company's products. A quick scan of Creative's Vista driver availability chart reveals current support for Vista for less than half of modern Creative product.

Many 'older' products have their driver development listed as 'No Development Planned' - for example the four year old external Extigy sound-card.

It should be noted that Creative's newest devices seemingly have Vista support - both the new X-Fi external Xmod has embedded native support, and the X-Fi Xtreme Audio has final non-beta 32-bit drivers (though without any working audio console application, and no 64-bit availbility). Interestingly the rest of the new top-of-the-range X-Fi series drivers are still in beta.

Most drivers are listed as being available in Q1 2007, which is specifically marked as "the end of March". Considering the time spent thus far, and the trickle of availability, we'll be keeping a close eye on Creative to see if the company actually keeps to these deadlines.

Audigy owners take note of the official line on support of your fairly modern sound-cards; X-Fi owners come first.

We've been monitoring the Creative forums for some time now, and many enraged customers have posted and flamed Creative support demanding Vista compatible drivers that don't BSOD their machines (one of our beta installations of Vista had to be restored after a newly installed beta driver BSOD'd the machine consistently on start-up).

The situation has got so heated that a non-abusive post stance had to be announced by the forum moderators. Randomly closing threads hasn't helped ease the situation.

Mass postings of crashing problems, limited application support, limited channels, missing sounds, popping/noise, Windows not recognising devices - even with allegedly final drivers, have appeared on Creative's forums for some time now. Many have resorted to using XP drivers to some degree of success.

We'd like to post more examples of the extreme levels of anger and questioning from Creative customers on the forums, but there would simply be too many links to make this article readable - a very quick perusal of the community response should allow anyone to gauge the level of animosity.

Of course the problem isn't limited to just Creative, but even the posters on the forums recognise other (and smaller) companies already have driver support - a growing list of compatible sound cards for Vista are listed within this post.

Consumers could probably live with the driver delays from the likes of Creative and Nvidia if Vista had shipped when promised. Instead Vista has been languishing in beta form for some extraordinary amount of time, time which could have been spent developing and polishing much needed driver-support for existing product. µ

See Also
Nvidia screws Dell (2)
Nvidia favours Mac OS X over Vista
Nvidia screws Dell
Nvidia still fails to deliver a Vista WHQL driver


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