Hardware Vendors Struggle With Vista Development


Microsoft claims the bulk of hardware devices and peripherals in the market work with Windows Vista, but it will be several years before the ecosystem is ready, partners say.

At its annual hardware developers show in Los Angeles this week, Microsoft embarked on a concerted effort to quash complaints that hardware and software incompatibilities and the lack of new hardware and applications for Vista is hurting adoption.

Microsoft said it has sold 40 million copies of Windows Vista in its first 100 days on the market -- twice the number of copies of Windows XP sold in the same timeframe.

And more than 1.9 million devices now support Vista, a big jump from the 1.5 million devices that supported Vista out of the box at launch in late January. There are now 785 printers, 80 scanners, 308 monitors, 165 sound cards and more than 250 ISV software products have been tested and certified, Microsoft executives said last week.

Nine thousand of those 2 million products have passed Windows Vista Logo tests. Of those, roughly half -- 4,242 products as of April 11 " are Certified for Windows Vista, according to Microsoft figures presented at WinHEC.

During the conference, Microsoft highlighted only a handful of Certified for Vista products including Buffalo's wireless router and D-Link's streaming media solution, Canon's SD 750 Digital Camera, AVermedia's USB TV Tuner and LG's 22-inch Flatron monitor.

The list of Certified for Windows Vista products "- a higher ranking for products that exploit key Vista technologies such as Windows Rally -" is limited, but expanding rapidly as Vista finds it way onto more PCs, said Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates during his keynote at the Hardware Engineering Conference this week.

"There's still a lot of work to do, still more devices. If we look at the coverage we've got in Windows Vista, it's up over 95 percent, but we're still getting those device ID numbers, reaching out to you to get those updates," Gates told WinHEC attendees, noting that Microsoft has four times the number of drivers for Vista than it had for Windows XP.

But the numbers don't tell the whole story.

Partner and attendees who roamed the halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center this week at Microsoft's annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference say the number of drivers available for Vista may be improving, but the quality of drivers for existing products is in question and the availability of hardware products that exploit significant new features of Windows Vista is minuscule.

One source who asked not to be named said some Vista printers that passed certification do not support Microsoft's XML Paper Specification Format (XPS), an alternative to Adobe's Portable Document Format.

Significant changes made to security model and graphics and printing subsystems -- such as user account control, Internet Explorer 7 Protected Mode and the unified driver model for graphics and video, for example, have imposed onerous requirements on all OEMs and device manufacturers as well as ISVs.

And Microsoft has lagged on documentation needed by systems engineers and developers, partners say.

One IDC study commissioned by Microsoft and highlighted at WinHEC claims that the software company's ecosystem of hardware and software partners stand to reap as much as $120 billion in Vista and Windows Server 2008-related products and services in 2008.

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