Atkelar (atkelar) wrote,

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OS stability

I have a rather good example of how it is that Windows gets blamed for just about
every crash that there is. Some time ago I bought a cheap "USB-Microscope Camera"
which is basically a web cam device including white high power leds and a focus
feature for very close range - not going to name a brand here.

Windows XP:

It did work fine and I used it to make quick snapshots of the few Euro
coins I collected without the hassle of setting up my DSLR for macro mode.
Later on I realized that vmware workstation wouldn't start anymore. Oh well.
Let's re-install it. But behold! The setup failed miserably too! Lots of
investigation finally turned out that the driver for that microscope cam
contained an executable called "FixCam.exe" which is auto-started after
setting up the driver. It is a very sloppy construct which is evident by
the fact that it uses the default application icon for MFC based projects and
also what seems to be the default version information. So nobody bothered to
set any useful metadata to this project. Turns out that the web cam works perfectly
normal even without that stupid program and no other app has any problems either.

Windows 7 (64bit)

Now that I run Windows 7 for well over a year I tried to re-install that microscope cam.
And lucky me: the vendor offers a 64bit Windows 7 driver for it. So: install!
And wouldn't you know it! FixCam.exe still comes along with it: my antivirus software
even got triggered during setup but couldn't "remove" the virus (it doesn't seem to be one,
just a similar signature) and same problem as before: vmware doesn't even crash, it just vanishes.

Of course, the end user will blame Windows for the crashes, and the vendors of
both vmware (in my case) and the web cam will most likely blame each other - that is
IF somebody even realizes that it's the camera driver's fault! I mean it should
be 100% unrelated.

Bottom line: IMHO Windows is a very stable and reliable OS, but you have to
take care which drivers you install. Not even the hardware really, because I also
had a not-working driver for a PCI based card before where I found an open source
replacement driver for the chip that the expansion bord hosted. Worked fine.

Again: if you want your OS to run stable: DON'T INSTALL EVERYTHING THAT'S BLING!
Tags: techtalk, windows

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