ATI's Vista Killing Driver
I've been saying for sometime that NVIDIA Vista drivers are far from perfect. In fact, they are little more than basic working drivers. All the frills and thrills associated with those frills are well, non-existent at the moment. However, they are heavenly compared to ATI's Vista drivers.
Recently, we wrote about how the ATI Radeon X1950 GT graphics card had managed to obtain Vista certification without a working driver. Well, the first working driver for the Radeon X1950 GT finally appeared on March 28, 2007. Time to pop the champagne, eh?
Well, not quite. Let us take you on an amazing journey with ATI's new Catalyst 7.3 driver set. Then tell us whether you think ATI software engineers should be given a raise for their superb efforts or shot like rabid dogs.
ATI Catalyst 7.3
The ATI Catalyst 7.3 driver set actually consists of the AMD 8.351.3 display driver and the Catalyst Control Center (CCC) version 7.3. This is the first driver to officially support the Radeon X1950 GT. We quickly downloaded it and gave it a run.
The installer loaded up without any issue, and proceeded to check for ATI hardware in the system. If you read our previous editorial, this was where the installer informed me that no supported hardware were found. Well, this time, it recognized the Radeon X1950 GT and proceeded to install the driver when...
Up pops the error message "Driver Install : the INF file was not found" and the installer summarily quits on me. What??? INF file not found??
I checked the installation folder and found the INF file. I copied it into every subfolder used by the installer and tried again. No go. The installer still couldn't find the INF file. This isn't going well, is it? So, I went to the Device Manager to have the driver manually installed. Hey, it worked!
I retried the installer. This time, the installer did not give me the same error message. It successfully installed the driver and CCC. After a successful installation, it asked to reboot the system. No problemo. Clicked Yes and it rebooted... straight into a BSOD!
Yes, my friends, I was hit by a BSOD right after the login screen loads. Like all BSODs, there were plenty of mumbo-jumbo that only the wizards at Microsoft can decipher. Let's not bother with all that. That's not the interesting bit actually.
After it rebooted, I went into Vista Safe Mode to uninstall the driver and CCC. Believe it or not, the Catalyst Install Manager informed me that it could not uninstall any of the components in Safe Mode. I would have to boot up properly before it could proceed with any uninstallation procedures. OMG... How am I supposed to boot up properly if I don't uninstall the driver and CCC???
Again, I went manual and ran the installation routine to uninstall the driver and CCC. But when the installer scanned the system for ATI-related components, two error messages popped up, stating that the scan module could not be loaded. Then it hung. I had to kill it using the Task Manager. Fantastic.
To Boot Up In Normal Mode Again...
Guess what I had to do to get Windows Vista to boot up in normal mode without facing another BSOD? Remove the ATI Radeon X1950 GT and replace it with a non-ATI card. NVIDIA cards work well for this purpose.
After I successfully booted up in Windows Vista proper, I tried uninstalling the driver and CCC again. This time, the scan was successful. But I was left baffled when the Catalyst Install Manager reported that "There are no components currently installed".
Picture me banging my head on the wall and repeat that a thousand times. Oh God, the stupidity of it all...
When it comes to such idiocy, there was only ONE solution - the manual and forceful removal of the offending driver and CCC files. With the wrath of a righteously pissed-off user, I proceeded to delete both the ATI and ATI Technologies folders from Program Files and key ATI registry entries. Oh, the joy of pressing the Delete button on every instance of the word ATI. Delete, delete... DELETE!!!!!
After swapping in the Radeon X1950 GT card and booting up again, I finally breathe a sigh of relief when it loaded up with the basic VGA driver. Okay, the card was still useless in Windows Vista, but at least there were no more BSODs.