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Driving Miss Device

Updated on July 13, 2008
Device drivers can cause major headaches!
Device drivers can cause major headaches!

Browse thorough any online tech forum and most likely you will encounter a crowd of frustrated users decrying their misadventures with their "device drivers." These software programs which are necessary to operate any peripheral device be it internal or external, may well be the number one cause of ulcers other and stress-related disorders among personal computer users. That's because more often than not, the device drivers fail to drive the device properly if at all and in really bad cases can leave you with a BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) even worse damage to your system.

A device driver is a piece of software that converts the generic inputs and outputs of the BIOS into a very specific set of instructions that can be utilized by various peripheral devices, such as printers, scanners, hard drives or video cards. Device drivers are always individual to a particular product and often to the specific revision of that product, so it is imperative that the device driver be installed and properly functioning prior to starting to work with that particular peripheral.

Vista became quickly famous as the Operating System that broke almost every device driver fed to it. It seems that drivers that would hum merrily in the background on XP would simply refuse to function on the new OS. Although many manufacturers rushed onto the market a wide array of rewritten device drivers specifically for Vista, there are still many devices that simply won't work under Microsoft's misbegotten excuse for a modern OS. Yeah, yeah... I know... wait for Windows Seven... I hope I get to live that long...

However, it isn't just the Operating System's fault when a device driver crashes and burns. AMD-ATI is famous for rushing to market phenomenal video cards with immense processing capabilities but bundling them with insect-riddled device drivers that fail to take advantage of even a tiny fraction of that power. When software doesn't keep up with hardware it is not only a huge waste of potential, but the consumer is ripped off as well. They buy a product due to its physical specifications and when it comes time to harnessing those features the buggy device drivers keep them from gaining the performance they paid for. Then they have to update their drivers with the latest ones to be plunked onto the manufacturer's website, only to find that this newest driver is just as bad if not worse than the last one, and so on and so on. This vicious cycle would never be tolerated in any other industry. You could just see all 50 State Attorney Generals coming after a car manufacturer who marketed an automobile which was sold as getting 40 mpg but due to a misprogrammed central computer was only returning 10 mpg, but in the high technology field these levels of absurd bald-faced consumer robbery are just accepted as common practice.

There is no reason why computer users should be placed under a standard of product protection that is any different from motorists. Each consumer has a right to gain all the product performance and features that they paid for. Any manufacturer who insists on bundling defective device drivers with their peripherals should be forced to compensate the users that they knowingly and with full intent, blatantly ripped off.


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