Posted on April 2, 2008,

Is Creative Labs Intentionally Sabotaging Old Cards Through Drivers?

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Maybe all of those reports of Creative Labs sound cards not working properly in Vista weren’t due to poorly made drivers after all.

Wired recently received an email from Daniel_K, the individual who was responsible for fixing the broken Vista sound card drivers released by Creative (and who was then threatened by Creative), which claimed something that is, to say the least, very disconcerting: “Creative purposely modified the Audigy drivers to disable some features when Vista is detected and also purposely introduced some bugs to prevent some XP utilities from running.”

The entirety of his email can be read at Wired, and suffice it to say that Creative stands to lose a lot of business and take a tremendous knock on its reputation if Daniel_K’s allegations turn out to be true.

I must say, this all makes me happier than ever to own a Razer sound card.

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8 Comments on Is Creative Labs Intentionally Sabotaging Old Cards Through Drivers?

weclock

On April 2, 2008 at 9:37 pm

Man, Danny must be having a really hard time right now, I can’t think of any company who would just sit by and let it’s secrets be aired like that.

He must have gone into hiding by now.

Rollett

On April 3, 2008 at 12:55 am

I have been REALLY disapointed in my X-Fi .. Lack of Driver updates ect… Bugs STILL in it from launch ect.

runemaster

On April 3, 2008 at 2:53 am

I have an old Soundblaster Live Card, i really liked this card – no problems, great sound quality. Then i upgraded to Vista and there were no drivers available – those the system used by default produced … noises, i wouldn´t dare to call them sound.
I will not buy an Creative Labs product again, because i want driver support for cards that are good enough to last. If i pay that much money (and i have paid quite a bit for the card because i needed some addons for it), i expect not to be bullied into buying a new one.

I really hope Daniel will succeed in court against them and that there might be consequences for CL. To bad – i used CL cards since the SB 2.0 in my old 486.

Norbit

On April 3, 2008 at 5:24 am

I’ve got a Soundblaster Audigy 2 which cost me over $150 and its worked fine fior the last 3 years (even in Vista) but I’m interested in how this story pans out because if its true I’ll be giving Creative a miss with my next purchase.

Heru-Ur

On April 3, 2008 at 6:16 am

Been using an X-fi card for a couple years now and i have not had a single problem. Amazing sound for the price ($130 new). You couldnt pay me to own a Razer anything now. My wife got me a Copperhead for xmas and the click mechinisim wore out in 3 months! Only other sound card i would even think about owning is a Turtle Beach card.

Michael

On April 3, 2008 at 8:10 am

Firstly let me say that I agree that the Creative drivers under Vista are awful. I get a lot of hard crashes because of them. I really wish Creative would fix the problems rather than add new features. I have one of the latest cards so it isn’t a matter of legacy card support for me.

Still, Creative is legally justified in their actions. It is there software and hardware. Modifications of any sort are forbidden in licensing agreements. People can try to sue all they want. I can’t remember a single case where it ever worked. The media backlash is a different story however.

As for the quote from Creative I believe there is too much being read into it. Saying that they “disabled some features under Vista” is perfectly reasonable. If a feature doesn’t work properly or causes crashes then why wouldn’t you disable it until it can be fixed (if ever)? Just because somebody enables it doesn’t mean it will suddenly work properly. If they would have shipped a feature that didn’t work right people would be complaining about it.

Furthermore the comment “introduced some bugs…to prevent some XP utilities” also can be misinterpreted. The author evidently doesn’t understand what a bug is. A bug is something in code that does something you don’t expect. You don’t add bugs to code on purpose, ever. When you add something on purpose it becomes a feature (good or bad). Thus the comment boils down to the fact that they purposefully prevent some XP utilities from working. Big deal so does every other company. If you can’t guarantee some app will work with your drivers then why would you let someone even try it? Have you tried running certain XP apps under Vista? Vista will “introduce a bug” to prevent certain apps from running properly. You even get a nice dialog telling you so.

So, while I agree that Creative needs to get in gear and fix their drivers I can’t blame them for their actions. Why should you trust the work of single individual on code they didn’t originally write? Furthermore why should you assume that the changes that were made would work on anything other than the single (or perhaps two) machines that the author tested it on. There are way too many test scenarios left. I can’t ever recommend that people go outside the original manufacturer for driver support (when the drivers are being supported still). What I would like to see is Creative take the changes from the author, evaluate them for quality and security and then integrate them into an official patch. Then we get the best of both worlds.

Gauldar

On April 3, 2008 at 8:29 am

I figured that before I upgraded to Vista when service pack 1 came out, then it would have been a “mostly” complete OS… I think I will wait till SP 2.

Bounce

On April 3, 2008 at 9:21 am

Why people still use Creative to get sound is beyond me. There’s much better alternatives out there.