For some categories, Vista x64 support is still scarce

For some categories, Vista x64 support is still scarce

Summary: A reader asks if Microsoft ever plans to support its own desktop fingerprint reader on Vista x64. This is yet another example of the little incompatibilities and annoyances that exist in the 64-bit Vista ecosystem. And when I went looking for Vista-certified biometric devices, I didn't find much.


From the Ask Ed mailbag:


Do you know whether Microsoft ever intends to release a 64-bit driver for their fingerprint reader?

I have the Fingerprint Reader/Wireless IntelliMouse combination where the Fingerprint Reader is part of the IntelliMouse Receiver. It is a real waste if there will be no 64-bit driver because otherwise I've had no real issues with Vista Ultimate x64.


Good question. Fingerprint readers are becoming fairly common in business-class notebooks. I have one on my Asus Tablet PC, which runs the 32-bit version of Windows Vista Business Edition, and I've grown to enjoy the convenience of using a swipe of the finger to log on and connect to e-mail servers and websites. I'd love to have the same functionality on my desktop, where I'm running Vista Ultimate x64. But this is yet another example of the little incompatibilities and annoyances that exist in the 64-bit Vista ecosystem. When I looked through the Windows Vista Hardware Compatibility List just now in search of a biometric device with the Certified for Windows Vista label, I couldn't find a single one - for x86 or x64 editions. There's nothing on the lesser Works with Windows Vista list, either.

Not until you get to the very bottom level of the Hardware Compatibility List do you finally see a handful of products, all designed for Windows XP, that are brusquely described as compatible with Vista x86 and x64. In fact, the detail page for Microsoft's Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer with Fingerprint Reader says that both x86 and x64 drivers are "available as part of Windows Vista."

Well, yes. That's technically true. But biometric control software originally written for Windows XP won't work on Vista. And the DigitalPersona software for capturing and storing fingerprints and managing their association with logon credentials is available only for Vista x86, as this download page helpfully explains.

The x86 software isn't all sunshine and lollipops, either, judging by discussions like the one in this thread on Microsoft's TechNet forum.

My gut feeling is that if Microsoft had planned to write an x64 driver and software package for this device it would have been done already. DigitalPersona's 32-bit Password Manager 2.0 was shipped, with a bit of fanfare, at CES 2007, almost exactly one year ago. I suspect someone looked at what it would cost to port the software to a 64-bit Vista version and decided they would never sell enough fingerprint readers to earn back the investment.

From a usability point of view, fingerprint readers are an excellent idea for notebooks. Integrated into the notebook design, they cost a fraction of what you would have to pay for a functionally equivalent external device that has to be sold and supported in the retail channel. Maybe someone someday will create a reliable, consumer-friendly biometric device that will be cheap enough for everyday use with a desktop PC. Maybe it'll turn up somewhere at CES 2008 in a few weeks.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

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  • A real shame

    Thanks, Ed. It really is a shame. I think the fingerprint reader is great. I'll continue to use it on my x86 PC. Too bad as I really find it convenient and would love to use it on my main x64 PC.

    Thanks again for answering my question.

    Alex Bowman
  • Windows and x64

    Running Windows XP x64 I noticed Windows seems to neglect the x64 bit community a bit. My Windows XP x64 is quite picky about hardware whereas my Kubuntu x64 seems to work with it all. Windows needs to realize x64 is where things are going and beef up their support for it.
  • RE: For some categories, Vista x64 support is still scarce

    What I???m surprised at is the lack of x64 support across the board. Even Adobe???s flash player doesn???t support x64 so places like You Tube don???t work. I???ve been playing with XP Pro x64 that I downloaded from MS just for the fun and to check it all out. None of my peripherals have drivers for x64. It isn???t like x64 is new or anything. At this time my web cam still has no drivers. The printer (Canon) and scanner (HP) both say no support for x64 (for XP) is planned and they are not making Vista drivers. My TV card did load the driver but the software doesn???t install. To their credit at least they do say they are working on the software.

    As far as the OS goes it multi-tasks very well. The system is an AMD x64 6000+ Athlon, 2gig RAM, Nivdia 7600GT OC with a 500gig WD SATA hard drive. The Nivdia tune up software is pretty neat. It has the CPU running at just over 3.2ghz and the video card at 580mhz.

  • DigitalPersona / Microsoft link for 64bit

    I would think that DigitalPersona has an interest to make their driver software 64bit ready in the near future. They will want to provide the highest security available and as such wouldn't overlook 64bit development. I've worked closely with their developers and they are excellent people, just too few. They just released the VISTA 32 compatible online SDK 4.0 and I would place my bets that the 64bit driver is coming soon. After they release the 64bit, Microsoft hardware dept. should be able to update their hardware drivers. Maybe you should call DP to find out for yourself what their plans are for 64bit?

    Daren Mehl