A Vista driver case study

A Vista driver case study

Summary: One reason for the slow rate of adoption of Vista is hardware manufacturers dragging their feet with updated drivers. Finding information about scheduled release dates is tough, and even when you can find it, there's no guarantee it's accurate. Today's case study: Fujitsu.

TOPICS: Windows

One reason for the slow rate of adoption of Vista is hardware manufacturers dragging their feet with updated drivers. Finding information about scheduled release dates is tough, and even when you can find it, there's no guarantee it's accurate. Today’s case study: Fujitsu.

A year and a half ago, I bought a Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner. It’s a fast, easy-to-use sheet-fed scanner that quickly turns a stack of documents into PDF files. As a bonus, it includes a full copy of Acrobat Standard, which normally costs $250–300. The scanner itself was only about $360, so I feel like I got a pretty good value.

Unfortunately, the scanner software doesn’t work with Windows Vista. A few months ago, a Fujitsu support rep told me that their Vista driver package was being delayed until April, a fact I confirmed later on Fujitsu’s well-hidden Vista Support page (direct link to PDF page). Today, I checked that page again and – oops! – the release date has been changed to June 2007. The other bad news is that Fujitsu plans to support the now-discontinued ScanSnap series in Vista 32–bit versions only (other Fujitsu scanners are still on track for April release of Twain and ISIS drivers for 32– and 64–bit Vista versions).

The good news is that the existing ScanSnap software works on both Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, so I have other options available. And Fujitsu isn’t doing what some hardware makers are doing and simply abandoning this product line for Vista.


Topic: Windows

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  • Vista Drivers

    Same old, same old.
  • I am sure there are those that would say:

    shame on them, they had betas of Vista for months. However, as a developer I have
    made betas work, and then low and behold, they do not work with MS products when
    they are released. 1/3 of our development budget for this year is Vista related. I
    wish I could have put those dollars into new features.
    • Well, yes, but

      Final release candidates were available in September, more than five months ago. The software was released to manufacturing - not beta anymore - on November 4. That's nearly five months ago.

      If you follow the link to the Creative site I included in the last graf, you'll see they plan to release drivers for some currently shipping products in Q4 2007, one full year after the software was released. That's disgraceful.
      Ed Bott
      • Oos, slight correction

        Release candidates were available nearly *seven* months ago, and final code nearly five months ago.
        Ed Bott
        • Time to put up and shut up

          [i]If you follow the link to the Creative site I included in the last graf, you'll see they plan to release drivers for some currently shipping products in Q4 2007, one full year after the software was released. That's disgraceful.[/i]

          It also amounts to a slap in the face, aimed at their entire customer base. Microsoft has upped the ante (the security parameters) for their operating platform, yet everyone knew this was coming and Microsoft provided the developers the necessary documentation well in advance (at least in most cases). So why the inordinate delay in getting basic drivers to market?

          This smacks of the same thing we see with applications which are not DEP- or UAC-friendly (and thus less secure by design). Program writers need to fix that too, along with their own decrepit mentalities. To Microsoft's credit, they are nudging and indeed pressuring these companies to get hip fast to these new standards in security, the very thing everyone has been lambasting and ridiculing MS over for years now. Now we see so many others in the "eco-system" equally guilty of the same deficits!

          The application developers also need to get hip in minimizing the use of administrative privileges in their programming routines. Microsoft internal studies have proven that most applications don?t even need heightened admin privileges. In most cases these apps are (or were) simply inexpertly or lazily written. To think of all the grief these sloppy practices produce for the end users!

          On this issue I am squarely with MS. Now it's time for the developers to get off their lazy duffs. They need to put up and shut up!
          • What's the rush?

            Just being a little sarcastic. I'm guessing that since at this moment in time the vast majority of Windows users have either XP or 2000 that they see no harm in dragging their feet as chances are, the majority of people purching their products right now are going to be installing it on one of those to versions.
            John Zern
          • Not so sure

            The adoption rate won't be hell bent that's true (few OS intros are), but Vista is already on full roll out and nothing is going to stop its inevitable market absorption. This particular introduction is also going to be something of a reality check for lots of developers. Too many of them have been sloppy with their own programming to date, and now their hands are going to be held to the fire a bit closer. I strongly suspect some of this delay, at least in regards to the delivery of basic drivers, stems from them having to produce their goods to a higher standard than before.

            Let's see who laughs last for those who choose to play the game too casually.
      • Have you ever written a driver?

        It's bloody hard. And now MS has upped the ante with DRM and tilt bits etc. Writing a reliable driver for Vista has become a quest akin to The Odyssey.

        Notice that a lot of vendors have drivers that are the same whether it's W2K or XP? I doubt that their will ever be any drivers common to XP and Vista because of the rewrite of the entire audio and video subsystem, mainly to include DRM.

        MS externalized this cost to the third party peripheral vendors and they're dragging their heels, as of the moment, as there is no real big market or profit motive for them to go out and write Vista drivers for recent and even current products.

        In fact they have an incentive to not support last year's products if they are developing new ones with Vista compatible drivers. That's sounds like it's probably a year out.

        So, Vista adopters will get to wait. Too bad for them and too bad for MS.
        • It equates to laziness on their part

          Sloppiness and corner cutting are rapidly becoming inexcusable "outs." The developers can stall all they want, it only makes them look incompetent and indeed exposes their own shortcomings. It will also effect their bottom lines the longer they doodle and put things off, as Vista isn't going anywhere but forward (like all other OS introductions). Difference being, this one has higher standards that have to be complied with. Long time coming, but power to MS for seeing these security measures through. Now we see so many others caught with their pants down, napping as it were in a lazy man's haze, and stuck in "catch-up" mode.

          Excuse time is over.
          • driver attitude

            I was looking for a driver for Vista 64 bit wireless pci cards about 3 months ago and contacted Linksys, D-Link and Netgear. Linksys and D-Link said they were working on it and Netgear said they would no support 64 bit because it cost too much to develop. I ended up finding a Ralink driver that worked with certain chipsets that all three had used. What was Netgear thinking by not developing a 64 bit package for Vista.
          • An old story now

            I've seen it too, and it's maddening as hell. I have all kinds of Netgear equipment myself strewn across my workshop, everything from switches and hubs to KVMs and routers and NICs/WNICs (some of it dating back almost 15 years now), and it still amazes me some of the things they do as a big name player. Many of their NIC and WNIC utilities only function with administrative privileges and refuse to budge under limited user accounts, others some seem to fight letting go of control and turning the management reigns over to the OS directly. Many of their driver packs integrate their native management utility with the drivers in an all-in-one setup executable (how convenient), so you can't simply tab the drivers alone for a simplified installation.

            If that isn't enough, many of their first release driver and firmware packages are buggy as heck, and like so many other network equipment makers, they seem to be dragging their butts on developing 64 bit drivers for far too many of their products. It's a mind blow really. Once you dial in their products correctly they generally function as advertised, only to get there you often have to jump through too many maddening hoops.

            But that's just the thing. Right when you want to hurl a fireball of frustration at the head of MS for their shortcomings, it hits you that you'd have to hurl a hundred others - in just about every imaginable direction - to be halfway fair. :(
        • Try again, this time with actual facts

          There is no DRM or "tilt bits" in a still image device driver.

          Throwing around pseudo-technical terms incorrectly like that indicates you have never written a device driver either.

          The reality is every company has to make decisions to support its products. At some point they make an end-of-life decision, but if they do it too early they p*ss off their customers who rightly suspect support for a reasonable amount of time.
          Ed Bott
          • Come on Ed...

            It's time to get off the soapbox and realize that software is a market driven industry just like any other. The market isn't jumping on the Vista bandwagon so why would they? Microsoft has managed to hype their previous OS releases and finally the general public has wised up. Software companies have the option of following the market or becoming irrelevant. The market isn't in Vista right now. That might change in a year but it's not there now. Blaming everyone else for Microsoft's failure to market their new product is pretty sad, even for you.
          • Who's blaming anyone?

            I'm simply stating the facts.
            Ed Bott
          • Reality check

            [i]Blaming everyone else for Microsoft's failure to market their new product is pretty sad, even for you.[/i]

            More and more folks are catching on it isn't all Vista's fault, at least when it comes to driver interfaces. The "minimal requirement" security criteria has now been ramped higher, so it now also becomes a matter of meeting these new 'make it or break it' demands. As time goes on, more Joe and Janes are going to be asking "How come ABC can do it, but not my XYZ?" Various support forums are already starting to fill with such grumblings - and resentments. And they're clearly not all aimed at Microsoft or Vista alone, especially when so many things [i]are[/i] working well.

            You can't ridicule deficits in security if you're not willing to accept certain inconveniences that arise from improving these critical areas. Driver writers are having to face this tune just like the rest of us.
          • "actual facts" as made up by Ed Bott

            Yes I have written drivers.

            And we're talking about all peripherals, not just your canner Ed.

            We're especially talking about peripherals that may be on the audio and video channels when "premium content" may be present. This effects all peripherals, even scanner drivers as someone is probably smart enough to hack a scanner driver to redirect video pages to another file.

            Get it Ed? Everything that passes data MUST BE absolutely locked down or MS won't sign the driver. I thought that you, of all people, would be able to grasp that.

            MS made ALL of the drivers comply to a much longer and difficult standard that has to be implemented. This standard was created and promulgated to contain "leaks" of premium content through ANY IMAGINABLE driver or peripheral interface.

            If your pathetic attempt to deny this reality were true, then the XP drivers for your scanner would probably work natively. But they don't, do they?

            Why is that, do you think Ed? Oh that's right the driver methods and interface change drastically between XP/2000 and Vista.

            Gee I can't imagine why that would make it any more difficult to write, can you?

            Come on Ed. Admit it. It's is more difficult and there are are even more reasons, but I won't confuse you with details. In any event, it certainly didn't get any easier and how much more difficult may be subjective to the company and its specific product line up. But in any event, Ed, who the heck are you to make statements about their problems, urgencies and progress?

            Add to that that nobody, but a few hobbiest, and NBMer on this site, want to bother with Vista any way. So those companies are doing what makes the most sense to further their bottom line.

            So make the choice that everyone has been told that they have in the marketplace: if the vendor doesn't make the drivers that YOU want, choose another and quit whining.

            Personally, the lack of drivers makes absolutely no difference to me, because, like many, many others, I have chosen to pick another OS and avoid the Vista "abortion" at all costs.

            Gee maybe those vendors are on to something after all.
        • It's hard!

          That excuse doesn't work in most industries. Let's get with the program.
        • PMP and signed drivers

          I think you hit on the real problem... the PMP and the signed driver model. every driver has to be approved by MS and a compatible certificate assigned, just so they can support all the "premium content" DRM. Got Daemon tools installed? well there goes HD video playback... tilt bits are the same thing. they claim it's all about fighting rootkits, but in reality it's the only way they can support the end-to-end HDCP encryption. Trusted computing cannot be trusted. period.

          this has other unintended side effects. for instance, I have never encountered an all in one security package that was worth it's salt, thus I use a virus-scanner and a firewall from different vendors. On XP they coexist nicely, and give me the security I want. however when I went to install kaspersky on my vista build, I noticed that it now required a signed network driver, which precludes the use of a firewall (since it would have to install it;s own driver, and there can be only one)....
      • More to it Ed.

        There are a number of factors to consider.

        Lets say you (or I) write a video driver. Distributing it is a major issue under Vista because installing a device driver really should take full admin (not elevated via Run As Admin) to install. I will bet a weeks pay that 9 out of 10 current Vista user would not have a clue how to do log in as full admin.

        What really does bother me is that there are Vista drivers out there (my sound system for one) that I could install as a user and it was active for all users. That says to me there is in fact a way to side step much of the Windows security.
        • Huh?

          Anyone who has an Administrator account can install a driver. You click yes in a UAC consent box. I've installed 10 video driver updates since the beginning of the year on various machines here, logged in with my normal user account.

          So what are you saying?
          Ed Bott