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Creative Goes After Driver Modder

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the shame-on-you-creative dept.

Hardware Hacking 385

FreedomFighter writes "Since the release of Windows Vista, Creative has promised their Sound Cards as being 'Vista Ready'. Unfortunately, as many unlucky customers did discover, this is not true. What the users actually found were buggy, feature crippled drivers. Creative insisted that features such as Decoding of Dolby® Digital and DTS(TM) signals and DVD-Audio which worked fine in WinXP, would not work on windows Vista. With Creative releasing less than one new driver a year, things seemed bleak. Fortunately, a talented user, Daniel_K, was recently able to 'fix' many of the drivers, enabling the incompatible features and also fixing many bugs. Just today Creative has decided to put a stop to this. They removed all links to his modified drivers, and banned several users who were posting links to the now banned drivers."

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Bruce Schneir (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903838)

talked about this in his recent article.

First TROUT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903840)

I am a fish!

Not a big surprise (5, Insightful)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903844)

Creative doing something dumb is a shock?  They haven't done anything intelligent in nearly decade.

Used to be I would buy ONLY Creative sound hardware.  Now I've given up after even a USB sound box of theirs didn't work, but the $15 Taiwanese ugly grey box worked fabulously with no effort, and on Linux, too.

Now they not only refuse to release decent drivers, but actively annoy those who do.  What, exactly, is the value proposition here for me as a customer?

Scruffy seconds. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903870)

Because Scruffy fails to believe in this company. *sob*

Creative blows these days. I too used to be a Creative goon, buying nothing but their cards for any of my many boxxen. After one too many fried - after one too many asinine issues with their crap drivers, and even crappier software (it didn't used to be this way - what the hell happened?!)... Well, I'll take onboard sound over a dedicated Creative soundcard any day.

Seriously, Creative went from awesome to shit. What happened? I still haven't figured that out.

Re:Scruffy seconds. (5, Insightful)

Rod Beauvex (832040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903936)

Creative turning to shit seems to correlate with the disappearence of it's competition.

Not really (5, Informative)

anss123 (985305) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904032)

The original SoundBlaster was basically a copy of the Adlib (a soundcard by a small American company) with digital output tacked on. Problem was the implementation was so broken it was impossible to play back audio without crackles and pops.

The Soundblaster pro was better, but that's not saying a lot. The fact that the follow up - the Sound Blaster 16 - was NOT Sound Blaster Pro compatible is a clear indication how murky the SB Pro's underpinnings actually were.

Speaking about the SoundBlaster 16. Despite what you may believe the SB16 is NOT a 16-Bit soundcard. It can indeed play back 16-Bit samples, but the drivers simply down converts them to 12-bits.

The AWE was better but it was basically what the SB16 should have been and the competition by this time made the AWE look silly - and that is not mentioning the rather dishonest 64 simultaneous channels claim their marketing department threw about.

Creative's first attempt at a PCI soundcard turned out so murky that 1997 era mobos have something called a "SoundBlaster link" to make them happy. Finally giving up Creative bought another company that had made a PCI soundcard and slapped the SoundBlaster brand on it. (SoundBlaster 16 PCI .. or SoundBlaster 512, they had many names for it).

The SoundBlaster Live! was not PCI 2.1 complainant. If you somehow didn't know that you had to turn off PCI delayed transactions in the BIOS you would get blue screens every now and then. It also caused disk corruption on Via chipsets. Fun fun fun.

Since then the Live has been rebranded several times. They even spewed out a SoundBlaster Live 24-Bit that did the old SoundBlaster 16-Bit down sampling trick. How nice of them.

The SoundBlaster X-Fi is much nicer than the Live and the Soundcard I'm currently listening to. But beware, Creative is up to their old tricks even here. They talk a lot about their 24-Bit Crysalizer - for instance - but it is actually a 24-Bit Compressor similar to the 16-Bit compressors used by CD mastering studios. Like any audiophile can tell you a compressor helps cheepo speakers by making the sound a little more vivid and louder, at the cost of less fidelity on high end equipment.

Also note that the SoundBlaster X-Fi PCIe Xtreme Audio is not an X-Fi but a good 'ol SoundBlaster Live! in new clothes!

Re:Not really (3, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904084)

I think I have one of their last good cards. An audigy 2 zs.

Works great in Linux*, AC'97 had finally been replaced with I2C, and a few other improvements, but they didn't seem to screw things up yet. While I don't know if it down-samples 24-bit to 16-bit, I don't think I could hear the difference anyways - but the 48/96 sample rates do sound clearer (I do synthesizer stuff, so I can generate sound that actually uses those rates)

* = Excepting the 50-thousand mixer channels and switches that I have no clue what they do...

Re:Not really (4, Informative)

anss123 (985305) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904278)

You're right. For Linux the audigy is better than the X-Fi, but whenever they get working drivers the X-Fi is the better card. One nice feature of the X-Fi is an option bitmaching similar to Via Envy cards. That bypasses the need for resampling altogether, though the resample engine in the X-Fi is very good.

Re:Not really (2, Informative)

haruchai (17472) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904172)

Thanks for the info. I didn't know all that about Creative cards but I did know that they
  had no working PCI solution until they snapped up Ensoniq and re-marketed the AudioPCI.
  I was an early adopter of the AudioPCI, which wasn't available here at the time in Toronto
  as Ensoniq just didn't have the market share.
  So after hearing about the card and it's purportedly solid SoundBlaster compatibility,
  I called up the company, got them to sell me a few cards and they also sent me hardware
  documentation and we were working on a reseller agreement when Creative stepped in and
  swallowed them up.

Re:Not really (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904254)

The original SoundBlaster was basically a copy of the Adlib (a soundcard by a small American company)
Adlib was Canadian, actually. They were based out of Quebec City.

Re:Not really (1)

TobyWong (168498) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904386)

Don't hate on the SB16. Regardless of whether or not it was true 16-bit it was the de facto standard for PC gaming for many years. In fact I remember wanting one quite badly when they first hit the market and I was stuck with my PoS Adlib card.

Re:Scruffy seconds. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904304)

Your brain turning to shit seems to correlate with your inability to tell ITS from IT IS.

Re:Scruffy seconds. (2, Interesting)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904368)

Creative turning to shit seems to correlate with the disappearence of it's competition.

I would think it correlates more with the fact that most motherboards come with built in sound these days and plenty come with built in 5.1 sound.

I have no idea what protocol that my desktop talks to the amplifier over the optical hookup. I am pretty sure that absolutely nothing good would result from using Dolby Digital, which is after all a compression algorithm over raw samples.

I could have installed an upgraded sound card when I bought the machine, but what would be the point? I would rather have the PCI slot available.

Having a separate processor for handling graphics makes perfect sense. Having one for sound seems useless at this stage. Games do not use the waveform generators on the sound cards to produce noise the way they did when I was in the games industry 25 years ago. Today we use sampled sounds created offline. All you need to present those is a RAM buffer that spews bits to the port at a rate set by a clock thats reasonably accurate.

Re:Not a big surprise (4, Informative)

edgrale (216858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903906)

I don't usually post but here goes:

Posted by JohnZS [creative.com] 2) I firmly believe that Daniel K has caught the flack because of the Dolby Digital feature As far as I am aware Auzentech paid a lot of money for an exclusive licence with Dolby to have their cards support this.

But but... didn't Creative have this feature on their cards? I could swear they did, at least in Windows XP.

Re:Not a big surprise (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904366)

But but... didn't Creative have this feature on their cards? I could swear they did, at least in Windows XP.

They do. From my reading of it, Daniel K's work basically re-enables all those features that Creative had disabled - and the reason for disabling was not technical, it was purely a legal/marketing decision.

Re:Not a big surprise (4, Interesting)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904406)

The sound chip built into my DG33TL motherboard supports Dolby Digital so I do not think that is correct. I have also been told that Dolby doesn't license its technology on an exclusive basis.

Re:Not a big surprise (1)

Joelfabulous (1045392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903924)

Yeah, I had a 5.1 Live card crap out on me for no apparent reason (weird sound distortion), so I replaced it with the exact same one, and had the exact same issue with sound quality after three months. I was probably under warranty, but at that point didn't think it was worth the effort. I know, I know, anecdotal, but I had the exact same hardware failure when manufacturing tolerances are supposed to be rather low when it comes to defects, so in theory the odds will go up against them substantially.

Re:Not a big surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903926)

Ten years ago MS were trying to get Creative to accept help. Creative refused. Quite the management team Creative have.

Re:Not a big surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904282)

And how many companies has MS *helped* and then either made their own products and drove them out of business, or *fixed* windows so they didn't work anymore?

Re:Not a big surprise (2)

Gregg M (2076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903984)

Please leave my font alone.

E-mu/Ensoniq -- anyone? (5, Insightful)

Angstroem (692547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903992)

Creative doing something dumb is a shock? They haven't done anything intelligent in nearly decade.

Indeed. Instead, they bought two of the finest synthesizer and sampler vendors and sent them down the drain.

This, Creative, I will never forget. And for this simple reason you won't sell anything to me. Never.

Yes, even if you shipped it with Linux drivers...

Re:E-mu/Ensoniq -- anyone? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904094)

Let's not forget what they did to Aureal, who made simply some of the finest sounding and most innovative sound cards around at the time. I have an au8830 kicking around somewhere actually...

Re:Not a big surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904176)

Is there even still a need for those bloated overpriced cards?

My last soundcard was a SB live and I am using onboard sound for years now, playing latest 3D games and making music (cubase) without any problems. Besides all the marketing crap, benchmarks show that there is NO performance gain in using that x-fi ultra gamer fatality whatever SB card in comparison to an onboard card.

Re:Not a big surprise (1)

afxgrin (208686) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904196)

Whatever man - they just don't want to be held liable if someone fucks up their soundcard or computer with drivers not written by them.

This is the standard of hacked drivers - you gotta go look for them yourself.

I do agree that Creative hasn't done much creative work in a long time. I half-ass produce music, and their ASIO drivers are garbage. Everyone who has their hardware just uses ASIO4ALL instead.

Re:Not a big surprise (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904252)

So, um, what was the brand name of the "scruffy, ugly" box? They deserve to sell if they work.

typical (0, Offtopic)

TechnicalThug (799854) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903848)

creative idiocy!

*golf clap* (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903852)

Well done Creative. You've universally upset users, upset developers and made yourself look like petulant asshats. Did you get your panties in a bunch because a lone hacker with a binary patcher could produce better drivers than your clearly mediocre driver developers?

Well your drivers always sucked and your hardware business is being steadily eaten by rapidly improving onboard audio and much better high end audio cards. You are not long for this world.

Stupid policy rather than weak developers, I guess (4, Interesting)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904142)

After reading the thread on the Creative forum, I guess that "Daniel_K" re-enabled features for Vista rather than developing them from the ground up. Which leads us to the question why the Vista drivers were shipped in that crippled state. Between the lines of Phil O'Shaughnessy's message I read that it was a "business decision" rather than developer incompetence.

It is not the first strange decision by Creative either:
While I'm happy with the hardware of the Soundblaster Live! 5.1 I bought a few years ago, even then Creative offered only driver updates for download, where others were more customer-friendly and offered complete drivers. Which is quite helpful if you have mislaid your driver CD-ROM ;-)

So I agree that their management is a bunch of asshats. I also agree that onboard audio is getting better. My reason for buying that Soundblaster Live! was abysmal onboard sound on the Abit IC-7 mainboard of the computer. The new rig I built last year has quite acceptable onboard sound, and unless I see a really attractive sound card offer this one will just stick to the onboard sound chip.

Re:Stupid policy rather than weak developers, I gu (4, Interesting)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904384)

I had an original Audigy, purchased for a pre-XP operating system. When they finally did come up with drivers for XP, they required users to download an ISO from Compaq of all places, extract the files, then modify a couple of files so that it wouldn't look for the Compaq identifiers (whatever they were -- I don't recall). In these days, dial-up was still prevalent (I was on a cablemodem at the time), and the image was more than 300MB, and engendered often angry -- and mysteriously deleted -- postings on their forum.

They should hire him! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903858)

A few years ago, while browsing around the library downtown, I
had to take a piss. As I entered the john a big beautiful all-American
football hero type, about twenty-five, came out of one of the booths.
I stood at the urinal looking at him out of the corner of my eye as he
washed his hands. He didn't once look at me. He was "straight" and
married - and in any case I was sure I wouldn't have a chance with
him.

As soon as he left I darted into the booth he'd vacated,
hoping there might be a lingering smell of shit and even a seat still
warm from his sturdy young ass. I found not only the smell but the
shit itself. He'd forgotten to flush. And what a treasure he had left
behind. Three or four beautiful specimens floated in the bowl. It
apparently had been a fairly dry, constipated shit, for all were fat,
stiff, and ruggedly textured. The real prize was a great feast of turd
- a nine inch gastrointestinal triumph as thick as a man's wrist.

I knelt before the bowl, inhaling the rich brown fragrance and
wondered if I should obey the impulse building up inside me. I'd
always been a heavy rimmer and had lapped up more than one little
clump of shit, but that had been just an inevitable part of eating ass
and not an end in itself. Of course I'd had jerk-off fantasies of
devouring great loads of it (what rimmer hasn't), but I had never done
it. Now, here I was, confronted with the most beautiful five-pound
turd I'd ever feasted my eyes on, a sausage fit to star in any fantasy
and one I knew to have been hatched from the asshole of the world's
handsomest young stud.

Why not? I plucked it from the bowl, holding it with both
hands to keep it from breaking. I lifted it to my nose. It smelled
like rich, ripe limburger (horrid, but thrilling), yet had the
consistency of cheddar. What is cheese anyway but milk turning to shit
without the benefit of a digestive tract?

I gave it a lick and found that it tasted better then it
smelled. I've found since then that shit nearly almost does.

I hesitated no longer. I shoved the fucking thing as far into
my mouth as I could get it and sucked on it like a big brown cock,
beating my meat like a madman. I wanted to completely engulf it and
bit off a large chunk, flooding my mouth with the intense, bittersweet
flavor. To my delight I found that while the water in the bowl had
chilled the outside of the turd, it was still warm inside. As I chewed
I discovered that it was filled with hard little bits of something I
soon identified as peanuts. He hadn't chewed them carefully and they'd
passed through his body virtually unchanged. I ate it greedily,
sending lump after peanutty lump sliding scratchily down my throat. My
only regret was the donor of this feast wasn't there to wash it down
with his piss.

I soon reached a terrific climax. I caught my cum in the
cupped palm of my hand and drank it down. Believe me, there is no more
delightful combination of flavors than the hot sweetness of cum with
the rich bitterness of shit.

Afterwards I was sorry that I hadn't made it last longer. But
then I realized that I still had a lot of fun in store for me. There
was still a clutch of virile turds left in the bowl. I tenderly fished
them out, rolled them into my handkerchief, and stashed them in my
briefcase. In the week to come I found all kinds of ways to eat the
shit without bolting it right down. Once eaten it's gone forever
unless you want to filch it third hand out of your own asshole. Not an
unreasonable recourse in moments of desperation or simple boredom.

I stored the turds in the refrigerator when I was not using
them but within a week they were all gone. The last one I held in my
mouth without chewing, letting it slowly dissolve. I had liquid shit
trickling down my throat for nearly four hours. I must have had six
orgasms in the process.

I often think of that lovely young guy dropping solid gold out
of his sweet, pink asshole every day, never knowing what joy it could,
and at least once did, bring to a grateful shiteater.

So post the instructions or a diff (4, Insightful)

00_NOP (559413) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903860)

Modifying your own driver for compatibility reasons is perfectly legal in most jurisdictions, though distributing the modified driver may not be.

And surely a diff is not a derived work in itself - is it?

Re:So post the instructions or a diff (3, Insightful)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903938)

And surely a diff is not a derived work in itself - is it?
IANAL, TINLA; one might argue that a unified/context diff is a derivative work since it contains parts of the original, whereas a diff on the form (delete [byte range]|insert [bytes] at [position])* isn't, as it doesn't contain parts of the original. I think this argument appeals very much to technical people, but not quite as much to the lawyers.

But, as Jennifer Granick said at defcon 15 (TINLA either): the answer in many cases of technology vs. law is either "we don't know" or "it depends".

Re:So post the instructions or a diff (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904034)

Reverse engineering is legal where I live and also highly illegal block engineering to enable INTEROPABILITY. Prevent interopability is illegal under fair trading and monopolization laws. That is why MSFT and APPL and others are in the shit here.

I stopped buying Creative products 10 years ago and refuse to touch a single one of their branded products. They're driers are infested with malware.

You cry on one hand about how bad they are but YOU give them your money? Why?

What kind of person does this? A stupid one. If you did this, then yes, YOU ARE STUPID. No sympathy here.

Re:So post the instructions or a diff (1)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904330)

The only problem with distributing the modded drivers here is that Creative appears to claim that they use copyright code from their drivers.

If there is no copyright violation then the correct legal response to Creative is 'sit on it and spin'. The users bought hardware. Third parties have the right to extend the use of that hardware in any way they choose so long as they are not distributing copyright or patent infringing code.

Copyright is not intended to give hardware manufacturers a monopoly on accessories for a device. Attempts to use it for that purpose have failed. We might well get to the point soon where this is applied to patents.

Bash.org reflects my feelings about Creative (5, Funny)

beacher (82033) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903890)

Shamelessly stolen from bash.org [bash.org]

<booradley> I'd like to perform a one act play I call, "Creative screwed me like a bitch"
<booradley> <audigy> Buy me! I'm ever so sexy
<booradley> <boo> ok. come home with me and we'll play among the stars
<booradley> <audigy> tee hee! I love you, boo!
<booradley> <boo> I love you too, audigy
<booradley> :: later ::
<booradley> <boo> there, you're all installed. how do you feel?
<neshura> down in front!
<booradley> <audigy> LET JESUS FUCK YOU! VRAAAGH!
* audience gasps.
<booradley> * audigy is putting noise across your PCI channels
<booradley> <hard drive> Mein leben!
<booradley> * hard drive has died
<booradley> <audigy> Blaaah! blaaaugh! your mother sucks cocks in hell! graaagh!
<booradley> <modem> aaieee
<booradley> *modem has died
<booradley> and the new modem I got connects at 32k tops
<Shendal> By far, that's the best one-act IRC play I've read this season. Do I smell a Tony award?

Re:Bash.org reflects my feelings about Creative (1)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904398)

This Bash entry reminds me about the times when you actually couldn't be sure about what will happen when you will put that ISA/PCI card in your computer. It could eat your data easily, or toast your precious and expensive motherboard.

Laugh everytime I see this.

Third-party problem (5, Interesting)

Bananenrepublik (49759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903896)

From how I read the post, Creative licensed code from third parties only for XP, not Vista. Since this code is needed to use certain functionality, this functionality is disabled on Vista. In other words, Creative's bad negotiating comes to bite their customers in the ass. How could they be this stupid -- "oh, we only licensed this stuff for Windows XP? Too bad, let the customers suck it up"

Re:Third-party problem (5, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903988)

Its more likely that the XP drivers use the raw unprotected path and the media overlords cannot disable it in the same way they can everything else.
God forbit that music might be heard without jumping through DRM hoops.

Re:Third-party problem (4, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904358)

Which brings back my old observation about Vista...

We've had decades, and STILL don't feel that operating systems work as well as we'd like, when they're designed to work.

Into this, add Vista, the first OS that is designed *not* to work at certain times. Plus it's supposed to figure out what those times are that it should work, and shouldn't work. What chance of success has this, in a real world of bugs, and all.?

Re:Third-party problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903996)

If this is the case couldn't they just be a bit lax about IP enforcement?

Re:Third-party problem (4, Insightful)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904392)

You know, I daresay you are right, but also that the licensors probably haven't expressed any issue with licensing for Vista, but that Creative's lawyers are running the show.

Never, never let lawyers run the show.  They don't know anything about the real world.

Trading creative for Realtek (1)

Jekkaman (1263892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903898)

Creative is loosing lots of customers with their X-FI series,drivers sucks,no support for linux....I had one X-FI Currently i'm selling my sound card which cost me 250 when it was released to use my onboard sound which works flawlessly in linux ,windows,Hackintosh you name it.

So where's the class action lawsuit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903900)

On the other hand dumb people deserve to be ripped off. They call it 'evolution'.

Re:So where's the class action lawsuit? (2, Insightful)

Gription (1006467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903974)

On the other hand dumb people deserve to be ripped off. They call it 'evolution'.
Evolution requires that something dies.
I suggest that we might be witnessing Creative getting involved with the evolution process here...

Wow. (1)

daddyrief (910385) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903908)

This is pure ridiculous. It would be understandable if Creative promised to make drivers available... But don't leave the end-user with no options, then try 'take down' usermade drivers that fix the crippled feature. I don't know if the drivers are open source or not, but either way, gOgO gAdgEt tOrrEnt trAckEr!

Re:Wow. (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904414)

Even a promise of release isn't worth much from Creative. They promised to release XP drivers for the Audigy, and it took them many months to do so, delaying my (and many others') move to that OS, and when they did, it was a painful experience.

petulant and/or puerile (4, Interesting)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903918)

hmm.

that really does seem a little petulant and/or puerile.

a more enlightented company might of examined what he did to see why it worked.

a more customer focused company might of actually listened to their customer complaints in the first place.

and a company with a serious long term investments in this technology might of actually installed some QA systems and ensured the drivers were fit for purpose in the first place.

there seems to be no effort, willing or investment from Creative at this point.

and, wheras there is some truth to Creative protecting their IP, and beign disgruntled about anybody else possibly releasing unsupported patched, I believe Daniel_K summed it up quite eloquently on his response. "The funny thing is that you are faster "protecting" your technologies and intellectual properties than providing improved drivers and softwares for your customers."

Re:petulant and/or puerile (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904058)

You might of [sic] tried to learn how to conjugate verbs in English [wikipedia.org] .

Meh...Duh...and everything else (5, Informative)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903920)

From the useless forum thread, it looks like one cowboy decided to make things easy for users suffering from Creative's ineptitude. As noble as his motives are, his methods weren't exactly legal. Looks like he was redistributing altered binary packages and asking for donations for his effort and time. I understand he was trying to help users but again his methods (and not his motives) are suspect. If Creative had any brains, they would probably hire the guy (daniel_k) as a contractor, get his contributions in, pay him a few Euro (or Yen or anything but the US$) and check that stuff into their CVS and call it their own.

This is what happens when non-technical management + legal team + marketing get together to make decisions (and it's not just Creative...). I've been using a Creative Soundblaster 5.1 Live for the last 7 years - the card cost me 25$ and I've spent over 2000$ in AGP / PCI-Express cards in the same time. I am not much of an audiophile and the card just plain bloody works. Creative makes great hardware - the whining on that forum was driver support for Microsoft Vista but that's another nightmare story...

Mod parent up... (2, Interesting)

HiVizDiver (640486) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903998)

This was essentially the first thing I thought of when I read the article (I know, I know...) You had me up until the part where he was asking for donations for the drivers he was releasing. That seems more the crux of the issue, rather than he is releasing the drivers at all. The wording does indicate that they are upset that he is releasing the drivers, but they also mention the fact that he is requesting donations for them. I wonder if they would have gone after him as hard if he had just quietly released the drivers and not bothered with the donation bit.

Re:Meh...Duh...and everything else (4, Insightful)

Fweeky (41046) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904194)

Creative makes great hardware
They make popular, passable hardware which everyone QA's with because, oh, they're popular. This probably insulates you when they violate the PCI spec and fit things together with spit and duct tape.

simultaneous translation (5, Interesting)

papabob (1211684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903930)

We, at Creative, are unable to mass produce chips that differentiates themselves by its design as we used to do. A few years ago we throw all of our money making a single chip design and our bussines since then has been to ship it with a simple eeprom saying what version of our card had you bought, and enable/disable features only at driver level. So please please please stop hacking our drivers to allow the advanced functionalities work in the low level cards, because in that way nobody will buy our multihundred bucks cards.

Sincerely yours.

SSDD (4, Informative)

GastonTheTruck (1048316) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903940)

Same thing happened with Win2K/Windows XP on the Live! cards. Creative never bothered to issue working drivers for the cards or the LiveDrive that allowed use of all the features, and the KX Project happened. It's pretty simple, don't bother with their hardware, the most compatible thing they ever produced was the SoundBlaster 16 and everything from there has been a support nightmare.

D'oh (1)

mattpointblank (936343) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903952)

When I saw "goes after" in the headline, I assumed it meant they hired the guy after realising he was better than their in-house programmers. How naive and foolish of me.

He was restoring XP functionality (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903958)

From what I just read he was restoring XP functionality which (I assume) would break the protected path and lead to Creative themselves getting in the shit for it.
But its just corporate bullshit, I would have personally hired him in a big fanfare and gotten good publicity.

What he needs to do is release the patcher... (4, Insightful)

Yer Mum (570034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903960)

... as an idiot-proof installer and let users download the drivers themselves, like the patcher which generates the ATI Mobility Radeon drivers from the normal ATI Radeon drivers (see here) [driverheaven.net] . This would probably be legal in most country with the inevitable exception of the US, but even then their complaint would be weaker as he's not distributing their IP.

Actions speak louder than words (4, Interesting)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903962)

The forum thread is interesting because it's full of irate users lambasting Creative for their drivers and their attitude towards "Daniel_K". However, how many of them are that upset that they will stop purchasing Creative products? We can bitch and moan all we like but if we/they/people continue to buy Creative's products regardless of how rubbish they are, regardless of buggy, feature crippled drivers and regardless of their attitudes towards their customers, they're going to think they have the prerogative to continue in this fashion.

I, for one, bought an X-Fi sound card. Buggy drivers and constant issues regarding gaming made me put it away. Reading that this was a common issue across the board made me decide not to buy Creative again. There ARE alternatives out there. Cheaper, better quality alternatives. Just for example, I replaced my X-Fi with an HT Omega Claro. http://www.htomega.com/index.html [htomega.com]

Re:Actions speak louder than words (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904140)

Do these Claro cards work outside Windows?

Re:Actions speak louder than words (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904206)

Don't forget M-Audio and their very nice "consumer" level Revolution [m-audio.com] cards. Not super cheap, but it sure sounds nice.

Creative Sucks (4, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903978)

I'm never buying Creative again after how poor their drivers on Vista have been. The Creative 5.1 drivers have a huge memory overflow in them which causes the Windows Audio Service to need to be restarted every few hours or you'll suffer though huge amounts of audio distortion...

So I upgraded to their latest card in the hopes that their latest drivers might fix things. I picked out a X-Fi Audio Extreme, and this is only recently mind you...

And although the memory leak seems to have gone this card has the highly entertaining bug of turning down the master volume by 75% each time any input is received on the microphone, in use or others. A wonderful feature you can't turn off. So if I type too loud on the keyboard my music turns down by 75%...

Long story short... I gently unscrewed my Creative X-Fi and throw it against a wall. Then I plugged in to my Gigabyte motherboard's built in audio, enabled it in the bios, and haven't had any audio issues at all for coming up to two months now.

I'm not using Creative again. I'm done. Seven years a happy customer, now gone.

Re:Creative Sucks (4, Funny)

cortana (588495) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904056)

Jesus Christ... and people say Windows is ready for the desktop!

Re:Creative Sucks (1)

seededfury (699094) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904442)

mute your mic? problem solved. I will be taking donations. Thanks.

Just a brand name (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904472)

When pc's didnt come with soundcards (remember that) I looked at soundcards, and trust me i didnt end up with a creative product. That pc eventualy died and I happly moved to on board sound from the motherboard and i have never looked back.

Reading through this /. article i now understand why i was never a client of creative. There are 'hifi' nerds - you know the type who fall for gold connections in wires. Funny shapes of plastic that 'improve' the sound in a room. Maybe my hearing is basic but while its nice to sell some hifi nerd a $1000 cable can anybody really tell the difference ?

Bunch of lies (1)

postmortem (906676) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904028)

Last drivers appeared few days ago for all Windows from XP to vista x64... you haven't even specified to which product your statement applies.

Beside that, I see in my collection that new Vista drivers appeared in October and November 2007, then now in March 2007, which is surely more often than "less than one new driver a year".

What is worst is that people actually buy in your propaganda. One would think that having Creative HW + SW is terrible experience, while truth is quite different. For example, creative drivers provide simple thing as multichannel expansion (2 to 4..7 channels) - unlike most other manufacturers.

Beside, last 3 or 4 batch of drivers were pretty stable for X-fi series.

How did this baseless company bashing get on front page? Pure sensationalism?

Shorting stock? (1)

goldfndr (97724) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904040)

Watch that stock price (CREAF.PK)... I wouldn't be surprised if the VP or other executives had sold some stock earlier in the week. If only the 5 day graphs were available. Already down 3.25% for Friday.

(CREAF.PK) (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904116)

The PK means the stock is traded off the pink sheets. Companies wind up there, and not on a legitimate exchange like the NASDAQ, because no CPA will sign off on their financial statement.

Must be a real open company.

Formerly no online drivers too! (1)

xafan (836020) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904042)

I remember when I purchased an Audigy 2 from creative and attempted to find the latest drivers online (like any sane person purchasing new hardware). I was shocked to learn that not only did creative not provide any sort of driver downloads for my sound card (at the time) that the forum mods actively forbid anyone from ripping their driver CD and posting it online. I inquired what would happen under a hypothetical situation where I lost my driver cd, I was told that I would have to go to the store I purchased the card from to see if they'd give me a new one. This is just one more example of anti-consumer policy.

So, what to buy next? (2, Interesting)

James Youngman (3732) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904050)

I've owned Creative sound cards for years. The only non-Creative sound card I bought was an Aztech sound Galaxy, some years ago; annoyingly it kept losing its config settings over a reboot. It's reasonably easy to verify that the Creative card you're going to buy works on Linux (I've never used Creative's drivers since every PC I've ever owned has run Linux). At the moment I'm using a Creative Labs SB Audigy. However, the machine it's in needs an upgrade (it only has 1GB of RAM, and I want to run virtualised instances of *BSD and other Unixes to make porting software easier).

What sound hardware should I buy for the new machine? My needs are fairly pedestrian apart from the fact that I would like to do high-quality LP transcription occasionally. I will probably also buy a very quiet machine as the upgrade in order to use it as a media PC (and hence need 7.1 support). Since audiophile audio quality and 7.1 are probably more or less incompatible I'm happy to buy two sound cards for the two different purposes, but which to buy?

I've been considering the M-Audio FastTrack Pro [m-audio.com] (the idea being that I use the device itself for the LP transcription and export SPDIF to an AV amp for the surround stuff). I've heard good things about M-Audio kit. However, it appears not to work with ALSA (yet, at least) [sourceforge.net] . What are my other choices?

Re:So, what to buy next? (0)

.Bruce Perens (150539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904100)

Stay the hell away from the recent Diamond sound cards. I've had to down Direct Sound acceleration in several games to prevent lockups.

Re:So, what to buy next? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904200)

Which answers none of the questions of the parent. Note he said he uses linux/bsd exclusively? Direct sound is a Windows-land thing.

Re:So, what to buy next? (2, Informative)

John_Sauter (595980) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904186)

I've heard good things about M-Audio kit. However, it appears not to work with ALSA (yet, at least). What are my other choices?

I use the M-Audio Delta 66 [m-audio.com] . It worked well under Microsoft Windows XP when I bought it, and it works well under the Ubuntu distribution of GNU/Linux now. I have no idea whether or not it works under Microsoft Windows Vista.

Re:So, what to buy next? (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904264)

Your best bet is not to do your LP conversions using your sound card. You can get Turntables with USB ports [sellcom.com] that will most likely do a better job.

Re:So, what to buy next? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904338)

Unless you're doing pro or semi-pro audio work, an Intel chipset with on-board HDA audio will be more than fine for what you want to do. In fact newer onboard audio is probably fine for the majority of users these days, unless you've got a super-cheap board that introduces noise on the output.

Re:So, what to buy next? (1)

Yosho (135835) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904370)

You might take a look at Turtle Beach [turtlebeach.com] 's sound cards. I'm not up-to-date on how well their current offerings work with Linux, but many years ago I got a card from them that beat the pants off of the equivalently-priced SB Live! Value.

Just remember (4, Insightful)

DigitalisAkujin (846133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904120)

Just remember Creative, the geeks control the network.

We are the ones that fix computers for friends and relatives. Slashdot readers alone probably account for a good sizable chunk of all your sales ever so what do you think will happen when we stop recommending your brand to the people who don't know any better. Or better yet, say it sucks?

Your company won't be the first to die in the flames of a hoard of angry geeks and you certainly won't be the last.

Re:Just remember (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904230)

Which company was first?

Re:Just remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904280)

Loki?

The course of action at this point is obvious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904122)

To arms, slashdotters! I think an invasion of their forums is in order to let these douchebags know what we think of planned obsolescence. Within days the internet will contain uncountable links to the modified drivers and Creative will regret screwing over their customers once too often.

not ineptitude? (5, Insightful)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904148)

after re-reading the entire thread for my amusement, I think this is not a simple case of ineptitude from Creative.

after all they have the original source code and we have to assume some partway competant SW engineers.

it seems that some of what Daniel K did was reactivate some features that had been intentionally crippled from older cards.

this seems more to be nefarious decisions on backwards compatibilty and forward roadmap taken on profit grounds not technical grounds. after all, we of the /. community are more aware then others that there is no compelling reason at all why HW from XP should not work on Vista - but there might be commerical reasons why.

follow the logic here. a brand new and shiny OS hits the market and you need to release drivers for it. would it not be tempting to cripple some of the older cards and hence try and tease people to upgrade to the latest HW? even better you could hold back some of the features of the later versions and try to gain additional income for them in the form of top range drivers. its an insane tactic but one that is used in the field quite alot.

the bad thing is that somebody then dissassemles that code for the driver realises what has happened and then patches the removed functionality back in.

this tactic is very prevalent in the industry - by attempting to artificially shorten the product life cycle you try to force repeat purchace and then profit. when there are no more additional features you can dream up then you attempt to deprecate the original in order to force purchase of the new. Creatice make no money at all from people using old sound blaster tech on vista so they will do everything they can to halt it.

maybe I'm just being paranoid, but I see this sort of thing all the time and it make a more logical explanation to me then "large multinational cannot write new drivers even when they have the source code".

comments?

I don't think that's the corporate/Singapore way (1)

julian67 (1022593) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904174)

I still have an original basic Audigy, bought it a few years ago (for the firewire as much as the sound) when I used Windows. The XP drivers back then stank too, horribly unstable, very tedious to uninstall cleanly (required cleaning registry and also system folders for orphaned .inf files) and I ended up using the alternative kX drivers. It took Creative maybe 6 months to produce useable drivers while simultaneously vigorously claiming nothing was wrong in public. Looks like nothing changed which surprises me (but probably shouldn't). Using Audigy in Linux is fine though, everything works nicely right from distro install. The hardware actually seems very good, and much better for having none of Creative's awful drivers or software along for the ride. They should thank and hire this Daniel_K instead of stomping on him, but I don't think that's the Singapore way.

Hardly unique (4, Informative)

Mike1024 (184871) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904178)

Just today Creative has decided to put a stop to this. They removed all links to his modified drivers, and banned several users who were posting links to the now banned drivers.
It's worth noting that Creative is hardly the only company that deletes posts they don't like in their corporate forums [google.co.uk] .

Lawyers forget there's this new interweb thingie.. (2, Interesting)

sdo1 (213835) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904182)

The stupidity of some corporate lawyers never ceases to astound me. Surely someone must have told them that for whatever good they hope to get out of such an action, the harm could be far far worse. And as with all corporate actions of mondo ignoramo, the news will be spread far and wide. It's on /. and if it isn't already, it'll be on the front page of digg. Then ars and gizmodo and a thousand other sites.

Now what exactly did Creative have to gain by doing this? Maybe somewhere an unhappy customer who installed these drivers, and for whatever reason, they didn't work or broke something, and that ignorant but well meaning customer blames Creative. Instead what they get is legions of geeks pledging to never knowingly purchase any Creative product ever again. They get a soiled reputation. And finally, they loose the happy customers who were happy only because this guy rewrote the drivers.

If they had half a brain, they would have quietly hired him for a very handsome sum of money. If they didn't try then they deserve whatever backlash they get.

-S

Well it's obvious how to proceed... (1)

EddyPearson (901263) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904202)

It appears Creative have joined the ever growing ranks of vendors who don't give a SHIT about their customers.

Luckly we live in a free market, where competitor products are freely available, and so the answer is clear, STOP buying Creative products. Sure they used to be the best around, but that changed long ago.

Where is nvidia's sound storm 2 sound card / chip? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904208)

Where is nvidia's sound storm 2 sound card / chip? Sound storm 1 was a good sound chip and there was talk a few years ago about them working on a new sound chip.

Anyone remember Gravis Ultrasound? (2, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904210)

Now that was a kick-ass sound card. Good ol' GUS. Sad now that the on-boards are good enough, all the current stuff sounds great but still doesn't seem as cool as firing up the GUS for the first time.

Very bad move: potential deadly results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904232)

Years ago, when mainboards were less specialized than today, if the user wanted to play sound he had to purchase an audio card, which usually meant choosing a Creative one or a cheap ultra low quality clone (ALS100 cheapos anyone?).
Today most audio chipsets bundled into PC mainboards are good enough for music and movies, and if the user needs special features like very low latency, high sampling speeds, big word sizes, balanced I/O, etc, the answer will be a professional card, i.e. not a Creative product.

I bought years ago a M-Audio Delta 44, which is good enough for my needs (and works perfectly under Linux); when I'll need a better or more powerful one I'm still not sure what I'll choose between RME, E-MU, MOTU, etc, but certainly Creative will be out of the list.

My point is that their market is shrinking every day a new motherboard comes out with new and better audio capabilities and a high end audio card producer makes a consumer product on the same price level of the typical Creative card.
Pissing off your customers is generally a very bad move for every company, but in this scenario if that silly move backfires it could pretty much destroy Creative.

Re:Very bad move: potential deadly results (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904410)

Yeah I recently built a computer for my cousin that had on-board Dolby 5.1 surround sound. Now I've never used Surround Sound personally but the fact that this is already built in would make me more inclined to do so and without the assistance of a crappy PCI card vendor going the way of the dinosaur.

Creative : patented idiots since 1994 (1)

Anne Honime (828246) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904234)

A long time ago, I bought an isa SB16 and CDROM reader to upgrade my (then) 486. Much later, I was building it back up, and couldn't get hold of my drivers, so I borrowed a set of floppies from a friend, to make a copy. Believe it or else, the disks were copy protected. Some stupid drivers, copy protected ! Like you could use them without the associated hardware !

It's a pitty they swallowed ensoniq and not the other way round. Ensoniq was doing a pretty good job at making good budget sound cards.

Re:Creative : patented idiots since 1994 (1)

baka_toroi (1194359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904340)

Well, that's the reason why the last Creative product that I bought was a SB16. And I'm not joking (OK, i got a SBAWE64 from a trash bin, but that's a different story. Worked like a charm, btw)

People still _buy_ soundcards? (1)

faedle (114018) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904336)

At the risk of sounding stupid, I'm wondering why people still buy soundcards. The vast majority of motherboards have some version of AC97 audio on them nowadays. Is there some inherent advantage to SoundBlaster cards over the AC97 audio bundled with most motherboards nowadays?

Is there something I'm missing?

Re:People still _buy_ soundcards? (1)

Anne Honime (828246) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904374)

Is there some inherent advantage to SoundBlaster cards over the AC97 audio bundled with most motherboards nowadays?

As far as I know, ac'97 has only one wired sample rate, around 48 kHz. Every other rate must be achieved by a software downsampling, so it steals cpu cycles. SBs have at least the good idea to have wired the usual rates corresponding to CD quality (44.1 kHz) and some divisions of it (22 kHz, 11 kHz maybe some others). All in all, it makes for a slightly better quality playback in games, radio streaming and such.

Re:People still _buy_ soundcards? (1)

Lazaryn (955844) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904418)

Most motherboard soundcards produce a fair amount of static that can be heard on any half-decent sound system due to their proximity to other circuits on the board. Using a soundcard prevents this in most cases.

developers managers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904364)

this guy summed it up very nicely:
http://forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board/message?board.id=soundblaster&thread.id=116332&view=by_date_ascending&page=7 [creative.com]

"Now the painful truth which half the posts here have missed: the Creative driver team is a group of smart, very talented people who could release a fully funcitoning driver set TOMORROW if company executives would let them. The fact that they have not done so is a strategic marketing decision based on 1. The cost of drafting a license with other IP holders that would cover the card itself for its entire life cycle versus just the card on a particular set of OS's, and 2. The desire to use a new OS as leverage to force customers to upgrade to a new sound card even though the previous card is still fully functional."

it's all about forced obsolescense

This is why I am getting a Xonar (1)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904372)

I have an audigy 2 ZS right now and the drivers under Vista BITE HARD. EAX and other stuff get disabled if you have more then 3GB or so of ram. I couldn't even install SP1 because creative has not updated the drivers in over a year. The card has mostly been trouble free under linux but I have run into a few issues with it every now and then. It is only because of the drivers that daniel put out that I could update to SP1 which did fix some issues.

The newest alsa version added support for the CMI8788 cards which includes the Xonar. I am planning on picking up a Xonar D2X and then not having to worry about this stuff anymore. The Xonar even has a nice DTS out so you can take a feed directly off the card and plug it into your receiver/decoder etc. Based on what I Have read on it the Xonar and other CMI8788 cards certainly have the Creative cards beat in the most important ways .... drivers that work.

Creative: one example of an Evil Company (tm) (3, Insightful)

ardor (673957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904394)

Poor to mediocre hardware, buggy drivers, patent-trolling, not only giving shit about customers, but punishing them for trying to improve the situation. Their real sin was to destroy Ensoniq and Aureal, which were lightyears ahead both in technology and customer care. Creative's death is inevitable, since AC97 onboard chips are killing their marketshare. Unfortunately, this means they will mutate into yet another patent troll that produces absolutely nothing. They have killed progress in PC audio, will continue to kill it.

Please, Creative, just vanish.

Class Action Lawsuit (1)

kwandar (733439) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904424)

Why don't all the Creative owners with defective drivers just launch a class action lawsuit? From what I've read it seems that their product doesn't function as they advertised it would - and they knew it wouldn't. In fact I'd think there would be a few Attorneys General interested too?

Not As Innocent As One First Appears? (1)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904434)

I've been following this issue since Creative first removed the links, and two things stood out to me as very good reasons Creative would have to remove links to his stuff.

1) He was taking donations for his work. This gets sketchy because he wasn't hosting anything, all of the money went straight in to his pocket
2) One of the packages he was distributing was a version of Alchemy (Creative's DS3D->OpenAL wrapper) called Universal Alchemy. Alchemy is a product that Creative sells (free w/X-Fi's however), it's my understanding he somehow removed the DRM from one of their releases as part of the Universal Alchemy package. This would basically be pirated software.

Of course Creative is Creative, so the situation has been handled with their usual degree of overreacting, but at the same time it seems to me that they'd have some good reasons to stop letting this guy's software be listed on their forums. As far as I know he hasn't even been asked/told to stop developing the software, only that he's not welcome to advertise it on Creative's forums.

Frankly this comes off to me more as the users getting their panties tied up in a knot over Creative moderating their forum, than any real concerns about the technical issues. Creative's forums can be a bit wild at times thanks to the seemingly endless supply of Creative haters and the trolls they evolve in to.

Re:Not As Innocent As One First Appears? (1)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904456)

And like a fool, I open my mouth about 5 seconds too early. I had quickly skipped over the post in TFA since I thought it was something I had already read before. It turns out that Creative has asked him to stop, but at the same time they basically confirm what my points were anyhow, which brings us back to the point that some of the stuff he was doing was shady.

Hardware wants to be free!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904436)

More precisely, if I PAID for hardware that I expect to be functioning properly, if correctly-functioning drivers were supposed to be included in that price, and if the vendor doesn't provide valid drivers themselves, then who the heck are they to say people can't fix the problems on their own?

What next? Cars that you aren't allowed to fix yourself? Yes, there are warranty issues, but damn the warranty if it is the difference between functionality and being left with a non-functional piece of expensive junk. That's a consumer's call, not the vendor's (although the vendor has no obligation to fix things if the consumer takes things into their own hands -- that's fair).

Alternatively, if Creative can't stand the possibility of other people fixing their problems for them then the right thing to do would be for consumers to return the product as defective and launch a class-action lawsuit to test the claim that their products really were "Vista Ready".
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