A year after writing my thoughts on the 64bit Preview of WindowsXP meant for x86-64, I thought I'd do a little update on the subject. Recently I've been getting a lot more questions pertaining to it, so why not collect all of them in one spot?
To start off, I never thought Microsoft would still be in the "beta" part of the process development cycle by this point. Back then, I figured that, since they had a more or less working desktop, enough that you could almost use it as a normal system day to day, it wouldn't take much longer before it was released as a revenue generating product for Redmond. Driver support was absolutely horrid, to the point that my ATi graphics card might as well have been a 2D only version. Chipset drivers were weak as well, there was very limited RAID support, basic networking for generic devices, and no sound that I could get operational.
But all of the input functions worked, as in keyboard and mouse. Sure, you couldn't use the Logitech drivers to enable higher level functions, but you could at least type, or move through the GUI. So my thinking was that it would take a couple months to get basic driver support, then out into the wild it would go. Instead...
It's still in limbo. In fact, there's been almost a dearth of advancement outside of the basics. Microsoft completed a new build of the OS, and there certainly is a larger base of driver support to draw from regarding mainstream hardware. ATi, nVidia and VIA have all stepped up, and tossed out a few revisions for their graphics and chipsets. For other devices though, it's a rather barren landscape.
Printers? There's a bit of a hack for some Lexmark, Canon, and HP printers, but some won't do color, they are slow, and often quality is less than ideal. So forget about using it where you would actually need pro printing.
Sound? Realtek had put out basic AC '97 stereo support, and in the last couple of months added 5.1 to that. But if you aren't using their onboard audio, Creative Labs does have some "preview" drivers for their Live, Audigy and Audigy2, VIA has also provided a build for the ENVY chip. None of those three though have managed to create anything resembling a stable final release as of yet, though from what I hear the Creative one is actually decent. Unfortunately there isn't support for their other products.
So drivers are a mess for perhiperals, but at least most of the necessary bases are covered. Promise, Silicon Image, VIA and nVidia all have created some drivers for storage, both in RAID and just for PATA/SATA use. LAN has gotten better than when I first tried it, many of the onboard NICs are now covered. PCI ones though, don't look nearly as happy. In fact, for anything that's not integrated into the motherboard itself, printers, webcams, mice, TV Tuners, and so on are MIA.
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