Windows is notorious for driver problems, and even Mac OS isn't without a driver hiccup now and then. With the nearly endless combinations of computer software, hardware and peripherals, it's a wonder any of it works together at all. Yet as consumers and IT professionals, we expect (and rightly so) that our two-year-old laser printer will work with the latest operating system. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case.
Whether you're troubleshooting your own machine or a client's, when you encounter a driver problem, which party garners most of your ire? Sure enough, there's plenty of blame to go around.
Operating systems have grown increasingly complex, new features are often at odds with problem-free interoperability, and updates often require hardware manufacturers to release new drivers.
At the same time, many hardware vendors seem to focus little attention on how their components, peripherals, and gadgets are most likely to be used by consumers actually work with a computer. Devices are bundled with additional software that often conflict with or duplicate functions handled by the operating system. Indeed, much of this "additional" software serves as little more than a commercial for a service or separate product the vendor wants you to buy.
Lastly, users are sometimes at fault or at least complicit in driver issues. They buy products that were never designed to be used with their computer or OS. They expect a brand new digital camera to work perfectly with a computer running Windows 95 or their new Mac to work with that dot-matrix printer they're holding on to.
Despite the long list of potential suspects, I'd like to who most of your driver-related wrath is directed at.
Notes: First, I deliberately didn't put users on the list, as I want to focus on the groups which actually control interoperability between the OS and hardware. Second, I didn't include an answer that assigns equal blame to both the OS developers and hardware vendors. While this may be the most "accurate" answer, I wanted to capture people's perception of who deserves more blame. When your aunt calls at 8:00 AM on a Saturday because she can't transfer pictures from her new camera to her laptop, you're secretly swearing at someone and I want to know if it's the OS developer or the camera maker. (If it's your aunt, then see my first note and stop blaming her.) Third, I only listed Microsoft and Apple, because they account for the vast majority of personal computer operating systems.
For more information troubleshooting Windows driver problems, check out these IT Dojo videos:
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.