Drivers

After the wonderful hurrah of the Steam Sale, I’ve been thinking that now is a good time to start to play these Steam games that I’ve now bought. First on the list was PB Winterbottom, which I was quite looking forward to. Until the damn thing didn’t launch. It was either a corrupted file (Which something was off with one file, but I digress), or I needed to do a driver update. I really didn’t expect it to take so long to do. I totally understand why we need graphics drivers. I really do. But for god’s sake why does it have to be as complicated as it is?

It’s not that I couldn’t do it, but the fact I have to delete old drivers, and install new ones. And restart after both of those events. I do not like turning my PC off. I like to hibernate, and so does my PC. So it is a bit of pain when software updates tell me to restart my machine, because it just bugs me. All I was thinking during this was “Why am I having to do this manually?” while I was making coffee and cookies as it downloaded and installed.

Now, I know that Windows Update is a pain to use. I also know that Windows Update can include drivers for 3rd party software. Imagine if your graphics drivers were included in Windows Update?* No more thinking ‘Erm, what graphics card do I have?’ or downloading some other software to tell you which you have or annoying sites which don’t allow you to update drivers easily. Just a nice simplified experience for everyone to use.

Of course, Microsoft would charge for that, and drivers are patches which should be free. But what’s stopping the distributors when they give you the driver disc to have an extra tool that checks your driver every few days and tells you “Oh, you don’t appear to have the latest driver. Would you like me to go and get it for you?”. Then it can trundle off and sort it all out, with a quick note saying “You will experience some craziness on your monitor. This is normal”.

So why haven’t they? I really can’t see a reason why nobody has. Place all your devices in a damn MySQL table, with a field saying when the last driver was released and put a timestamp on every driver. Then a quick check when someone checks their driver and when a new driver is released, the table gets updated. It can’t be harder than what is currently used, and it certainly should be more complicated.

Of course, it’s easy for me to say all that. I have no idea how often drivers are updated, or how to actually write those sorts of programs (Though I imagine a check for updates tool would be simple, Piriform do it easily). Though if either of the big two companies implemented this approach, I can tell you that I would be buying from them and them alone. Sod the fact that ATi are cheaper and only slightly worse, if nVidia do a tool like this that makes driver updates quick and painless, I will be buying from them everytime.

As I said before, I can easily do all of the above steps. But someone who doesn’t know that you have to uninstall your last driver to prevent any chance of it not working and crying in your face could easily just download a new driver and install it. Yes it might work, and when it doesn’t I tend to get a call meaning I get monies, but I think it should be on the to do list of all graphics card manufacturers.

*Thoughout all of that paragraph, I had to quash an urge to type TM after every time I typed Windows. Does that means something is wrong with me? Return to reading

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    • Javaguy
    • July 8th, 2010

    1.) If you’re using the same GFX card you can get away with installing over old drivers. I do, anyway. :\ Never had any problems, nor have I given you moneys!

    2.) Graphics drivers are auto-installed by Windows Update on Windows 7, if you opt in. They show up as “optional updates” afaik.

    3.) Oh good lord, MySQL. Eeewww D:

    4.) ATI are cheaper and slightly better, until you go up to GTX480 levels :3

      • Javaguy
      • July 8th, 2010

      I direct ye to http://www.nvidia.co.uk/object/drivers_faq_uk.html

      and

      http://windows7center.com/news/nvidia-updates-windows-7-drivers/

      Mind you, seems that Windows Update is actually fairly bad for GFX drivers. I never knew D:

      http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r23165036-WIN7-ATI-Driver-Update-Showing-in-Windows-Update

    • Nor have you given me monies? Wha?

      I chose MySQL because it’s free and therefore they have no excuse.

      I still don’t see why there isn’t a button on the control panel saying “Oh, you don’t appear to have the latest driver” though

        • Javaguy
        • July 9th, 2010

        I didn’t need to give you moneys to fix my PC, I mean :p

        And yeah, shrug. I think I’ve become so used to the idea of installing drivers I kind of forget how much of a hassle people find it.

      • That makes more sense.

        As I say, it isn’t much of a hassle, and once you know what to do it’s easy. I just think that the companies should have these tools installed for an automated update

    • Kid A
    • July 9th, 2010

    And this is why we avoid Dell at all costs, kids: you either have to use a convoluted work-around that doesn’t work with all driver packages, or you’re restricted to their personal driver updates, which are the only ones compatible with graphics/sound cards in their computers. And which get updated every year on popular models, and for older ones (such as the Inspiron 1721 I use on holiday)… well, the last update for the 8800GTM in that was over 2 years ago.

    • If you’re using a Dell for gaming you deserve your fate 😛

      I’m likely to purchase a laptop for Uni just so I have a portable code/composition machine, but I’m still not convinced that the prices and performance of gaming laptops are worth it. So I shall be getting a cheap netbook. But that’s an aside.

      I’m confused as to why Dell would do that actually. Although drivers only really affect gaming performance in any great detail, the usage of graphics cards to do all the fancy monitor stuff is becoming more profound. Most people I know have Folding @Home and it’s much more efficient with a graphics card, doing 1000 folds in one go as opposed to just the one. In fact, it should be the first option, even with the crap that is available on most mainstream machines (I had an nVidia 7800LE in my last machine, though it did manage to run Crysis. Somehow).

      I think the reason this hasn’t happened is because drivers aren’t yet compulsory. It’s only in the case of a game not working that people tend to update them, and half the time they do.

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