Experiences with Windows 7 64-bit hardware support

More and more as I've had to help support Windows 7 64-bit, I've been encountering more and more hardware that is not supported. This is partially because the move from 32-bit to 64-bit is dependent on drivers being written for the appropriate platform.

More and more as I've had to help support Windows 7 64-bit, I've been encountering more and more hardware that is not supported. This is partially because the move from 32-bit to 64-bit is dependent on drivers being written for the appropriate platform. And some manufacturers simply don't write any 64-bit drivers at all. I've also found that more and more, the number of 3rd party drivers that are needed to get a Windows 7 computer up and running are increasing. It has taken up to 1 hour to install all extra proprietary drivers and software on HP systems that I've recently been helping to deploy with Windows 7 64-bit Enterprise.

Recently I attempted to use my Canon Digital Rebel to take some pictures while away from home. I had my work laptop with Windows 7 64-bit. I never thought twice as I figured it should be simply plug & play, and Windows should recognize the camera as a generic camera device if anything. I really didn't need the special Canon software. I plugged in the camera anxiously waiting for Windows 7 to detect it, and much to my surprise it popped up with an error saying that "Windows could not install the driver software". And that was the end of that. My next step was to visit the Canon website to obtain the driver. Much again to my surprise once again, they do not offer a 64-bit driver for the camera there either! So in the end, I struck out. The camera was simply not going to work with Windows 7 64-bit so I would have to wait until getting home to download the pics from the camera.

The added bummer upon all of this is that I have several other computers running Fedora 10 and 12 Linux which I did not bring with me, that recognize the camera and mount it as a storage device within about 10 seconds to the desktop (just like any other removable media). I can drag and drop photos directly from the camera's storage. Also, what tops Windows even more is that Wine successfully sees the camera and uses Wine twain and camera drivers to use the camera there as well, without any additional software needed (just the wine-twain rpm package which is usually installed as part of the entire Wine software rpms). This means that Wine can interface the camera with Windows applications, where Windows itself cannot.

I have a hard time understanding why Microsoft can't even provide basic drivers to mount the camera as a simple removable device like Linux does, at least allowing me to access the camera's storage card. And also being a very common camera from a well known manufacturer like Canon.

I've learned that when travelling, it's best to go as prepared as possible. Next time, I will be taking my Fedora 10 Linux laptop, which includes Wine, VirtualBox, and knowing that even with simple Internet connectivity, I should not have any surprises like this.