Tech Talk - XP to Vista, the Problem Details

Well, I don't get away with "glossing over" much of anything in this blog, do I? After my post about finally giving up on Vista and going back to XP Professional, I have had several requests for a more complete list of the problems that I had with Vista.
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor

Well, I don't get away with "glossing over" much of anything in this blog, do I? After my post about finally giving up on Vista and going back to XP Professional, I have had several requests for a more complete list of the problems that I had with Vista. So, here are all the gory details:

- USB 2 Controller hanging. As I said, this was the last straw. At irregular intervals, but certainly once or twice a day, any and all USB 2 devices would simply stop working. The only way to recover was to reboot, and even that couldn't be done cleanly because the laptop would hang in the final stages of shutdown or reboot, and had to be power-cycled. I have been running the laptop with XP Professional installed for a week now, and this has not happened a single time.

- Linksys WPC54GX4 Wireless-G CardBus Adapter with SRX400. I bought this less than six months before Vista was released. It was basically the last 802.11g "Boosted" adapter Linksys made before going to 802.11n. Apparently Linksys decided that they didn't sell enough of them to justify adapting the drivers to Vista and getting them certified. After waiting several months, I was finally told by Linksys that they will never provide Vista drivers for that adapter. I asked what the alternative was, and they said "buy a new adapter". Period. No compensation, no trade-in, no work-around. So I bought a new adapter. Not a Linksys.

- Canon BJC-55 printer. Ok, so I'm old, but I love this printer. In fact, there are drivers for the printer included in Vista, but I also have a scan head that can be installed in place of the print head, and then it becomes a reasonably nice traveling scanner. Canon has said there will be no Vista support for the IS-12 scanner cartridge. Too bad.

- HP Scanjet 4670 Vertical See-through scanner. After waiting for a long time while the HP web page said "coming soon", they finally released a "Basic Feature Driver", accompanied by this note:

We are sorry to inform you that a full feature driver for Windows Vista or Windows XP Professional x64 Edition will not be available for your HP product in the future

They went on to say that I could upgrade to a product that was fully compatible with Vista. So I bought a new scanner. Not from HP.

- Lexmark Optra E240 laser printer. This actually works ok with Vista, but the driver from Lexmark for XP was much nicer than either the Vista generic driver or the Lexmark Universal driver for Vista.

- Lantronix Device Installer. This is a utility program that I use for my work. When I first inquired about a Vista-compatible version, they said it would be out "sometime in the summer". When I inquired again in October if they meant "summer" in the Northern or Southern hemisphere, they said it would be out in mid-November. It's still not out.

- Vista "Add New Hardware" Wizard. This was a particularly nasty bug, which as far as I can tell from the discussions on MSDN affects many but not all Vista systems. Basically, Vista loses the ability to find device drivers for standard or previously installed devices. It showed up for me when I plugged my Pentax digital camera into a different USB port than it had previously been in. After a good deal of thrashing around, Vista reported that it couldn't find the drivers for my new device. The work-around reported on MSDN is to make a copy of the Windows INF directory, and then point the wizard at that. It will then find the previously installed driver, which it should have found to begin with, without all the extra thrashing. However, as noted in the following problems, this seemed not to work in all cases.

- Philips SPC650NC webcam. This initially installed without problem. But as can be seen from my other blog postings, I do a lot of work and experimentation with a variety of cameras. At some point the driver for this camera got removed, and when I tried to install it again it reported that it couldn't find a required file. I suspect this is related to the "New Hardware Wizard" bug above, but I couldn't get around it. I had extensive contact with Philips Technical Support, and they couldn't figure it out either, but they said it was being reported with increasing frequency.

- 6DEF Video Driver. This is a multiple-input multiple-output video stream processor, part of which installs as a device driver. It would not install on my Vista system, despite the best efforts of their support team and one of the developers of the program. In fact, this went through two stages; initially, from the error it was producing, I strongly suspect that the problem was related to the "New Hardware Wizard" problem above. But even after I reinstalled Vista, and that problem was fixed, the installation procedure worked but it still would not function properly on my laptop.

- Swisscom Unlimited Data Manager. This is the software for the Swisscom (Option) 5-in-1 WLAN/HSDPA/UMTS/EDGE/GPRS cellular data card. It developed some sort of problem, either with the "New Hardware Wizard" bug or with the Cisco VPN Client software.

- SigmaTel audio driver. I mentioned in my blog entry about installing SightSpeed that the audio was very choppy. This was not the only problem I had with it, there were various other strange audio problems from time to time. The SigmaTel drivers available from Fujitsu were from 2005, and I couldn't find any newer ones which would install on my laptop. It's pretty obvious that drivers that old were not made for Vista, so perhaps that was the problem. I'll never know.

None of these problems were really enough by itself to justify going back to XP. But the cumulative effect was more than enough. After a week running XP Professional on this notebook again, I can honestly say that I am much happier with it - I am now able to just use it for what I need.

jw 30/11/2007

Editorial standards