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Creative Vista Driver Modder Speaks Out 318

hol writes sends a followup on Creative Labs shutting down the modder who made their drivers work with Vista. Wired is running daniel_k's response to the contretemps."
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Creative Vista Driver Modder Speaks Out

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  • fp? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @04:39PM (#22934390)
    what is everybody busy reading the article or something?
  • by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @04:41PM (#22934420) Homepage

    I never know whether to bother with /. on April 1. The fact that TFA is on Wired is no help. April fools is no longer funny.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Miltazar ( 1100457 )
      Yes, I've seen this story on multiple web sites so far...its real.
    • by Finallyjoined!!! ( 1158431 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @04:46PM (#22934450)
      The guy tried to fix the drivers for Creative products, that worked in XP, but didn't work in Fista.

      Creative censored & censured him.

      Shame on Creative.

      Shame on Daniel for making Fista work :-)
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        My understanding of the situation is that Creative had to license some IP for the ability to decode/output some types of data streams. They licensed this for their XP drivers, but have not yet licensed it for their Vista drivers. Until they do so, they can't enable their Vista drivers to offer the full range of support that their XP drivers had.
        • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @04:54PM (#22934554) Journal
          So the real moral of the story is stay away from Creative.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Ash Vince ( 602485 )
            How are we all going to avoid buying creative soundcards for gaming? Since Gravis went out of business they have a monopoly on high end sound cards for gaming. They can behave as badly as they like and just sell more product.

            This is clear example of how market based principles do not always benefit consumers.
        • Well, why didn't they just say that? With the benefit of hindsight I say that it couldn't possibly be a worse PR fiasco, but they have people paid several times what I make in a year every month to think of these things for them.
        • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:49PM (#22935224) Journal

          They licensed this for their XP drivers, but have not yet licensed it for their Vista drivers. Until they do so, they can't enable their Vista drivers to offer the full range of support that their XP drivers had.
          What an elegant example of why the intellectual property laws are ridiculous, outdated and do more damage than good.

          I'm hoping that China, filesharers and hackers like Daniel violate our IP laws so thoroughly and ceaselessly as to make them useless. At that point, we can start thinking sensibly how to approach the issue.

          And don't tell me that innovation will disappear if there were no IP laws. That is simply not true.
      • by kesuki ( 321456 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:00PM (#22934648) Journal
        It's way at the bottom of TFA but
        "Alchemy: My last ALchemy release (1.00.08) was completely unlocked and could be used with any sound device from any vendor."

        So the reason why they shut him down was he released a version of their software that would enable advanced creative only (software) features to say, work on an integrated sound driver. His bad, and he did that as a result of creative 'removing' all links on their support forms to his (working) vista drivers.

        According to his words in TFA he's still modding but 'not the forbidden mods' that creative really was upset at him for doing.

        He's lucky he's in Brazil, I guess.
    • by Kuukai ( 865890 )
      Don't worry, they decided it was "cool" (read "lazy") to pretend as if AF isn't even happening and just put "Disconnect from desire" at the bottom of every page instead. Real creative.
  • by Buzz_Litebeer ( 539463 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @04:45PM (#22934444) Journal
    Thats the solution. You have it from Creative's mouth. They purposefully are positioning themselves to cripple your hardware to make the actual cost of your card higher if you have Vista.

    This is not a problem with Vista, it is a problem with Creative if they do that.

    So, do not buy Creative sound cards and let them go out of business.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by plague3106 ( 71849 )
      I agree. Who do you recommend though? ProSpectrum cards from MediaVision I actually liked quite a bit back in the day. Wonder if they're still around.
      • by Shados ( 741919 )
        Depends if its for professional work or not I guess. If its for everyday usage and gaming? Just stick with whatever's on the motherboard. Sound cards have evolved to the point that integrated is probably as good as it gets for watching movies and gaming on anything 7.1 or lower. Now if you have special requirements, I have no clue whatsoever :)
        • by AuMatar ( 183847 )
          Only if its really improved in the last 2 years. On my 2 year old computer, I tried the integrated audio. About 2 hours later I ripped my old turtle beach out of the old comp and stuck it in. It may be 10 years old now, but it sounded an order of magnitude better. And I'm far, far from an audiophile- I never could see the big quality difference between cds and cassettes (convenience, but not quality). The integrated sound just absolutely sucked.
        • Unfortunately integrated audio tends to be noisier and consume more CPU time to drive them.

          ASUS has been releasing descrete audio cards for like a year or so and I've been wanting to take a dip in that pool and see how it goes. As long as I stay with XP though I'll probably stick with my original non-5.1 SB Live because it features selecting "What You Hear" as an input source for ripping audio from the unrippable without resorting to the analog hole or looping signal around with patch cables. ;)
        • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:38PM (#22935082)
          Ok, I just had to chime in here... I happen to do audio development for a gaming company. Make no mistake, most on-board audio is absolute crap. The drivers very often have glitches/bugs, missing features, or simply emulate "hardware" features (badly) in the driver. Creative's X-Fi lineup is one of the few decent audio cards still available, and that's a pretty small percentage of our consumer base anyhow. Generally speaking, about 75% of our customers have on-board audio, with the remaining 25% scattered among add-on cards. The X-Fi has perhaps one or two percent of the total.

          That being said - the future is software processing anyhow. With multi-core machines being standard equipment on all new machines, it makes sense to simply devote part of a core to audio processing, and screw the hardware and the many, many troubles it causes audio programmers. Vista doesn't support audio hardware acceleration anymore (Creative wrote their own OpenAL pipeline to get around this). Our upcoming game will probably only support hardware acceleration on X-Fi class cards. Anything else, it's simply not worth it, and we'll switch to software mode.

          I'm not condoning Creative's actions by any means. It seems pretty obvious that they're a bit panicked about the tanking sales of PC audio hardware, and so are making idiots of themselves by irritating their few remaining customers. Stupid...
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            and just to be clear, the key issue in your post is GAMING.

            blips and blaps. (sorry, but I dont' respect gaming. I respect gaming PROGRAMMING, but I can't be bothered with the game itself, sorry).

            my 'thing' is music - non blip-blap audio (well, ok, that's also a matter of opinion) ;)

            but my point is that relaying 44.1/16 audio is TRIVIAL for even a pentium1 (in software). all good audio hardware has already been designed and there is no more 'room' for other designs since the problem has been solved and re
      • by colinbrash ( 938368 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:28PM (#22934950)
        Terratec and M-Audio both make quality sound cards, and I much, much prefer those companies to Creative.
    • by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:17PM (#22934840) Homepage

      If anyone wants another reason not to buy Creative anymore, two quick ones

      • When I bought my Muvo2 years ago, they advertised it as upgradeable to support new codecs -- never happened, can't even get the dumb remote which is required to use the advertised FM radio on the Muvo2
      • Creative has decided that having drivers that work for most of their cards in the vanilla Linux kernel is simply too good to be true, so they are moving a binary blob model like Nvidia. God forbid I shouldn't have to go through hoops to get hardware I paid for to work.
  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @04:51PM (#22934514)
    Hardware makers, especially those that make drivers for their gear, don't understand a hacker's mentality, or even the rebuke they get from not listening to customers. I applaud the guy; did what he needed to get the Vista Not Ready gear working. They should hire him after they throw out their software contractor and their VP of whoever thought that killing the driver was a good idea.
    • by GreatBunzinni ( 642500 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @06:06PM (#22935368)
      Well, that would be fine and dandy if the real problem behind Creative's Windows Vista drivers were the result of incompetence. On the other hand, what daniel_k said made me strongly believe that Creative was intentionally fucking up the drivers in order to make their products appear rotten in Windows Vista and then force their users into an upgrade cycle. That has nothing to do with misunderstanding a hacker's mentality. That's screwing us all, the potential clients, up the ass.
  • by Bombula ( 670389 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @04:53PM (#22934540)
    Can anyone elucidate the issues of fair usage and licensing as they apply to hardware? I'm assuming when you buy a piece of computer hardware you're not licensing it like you are with software, so you should be able to do with it whatever you please. But since it 'requires' software in order to run, then I can imagine how the issue gets a little murky. As an example, when I buy my car I expect to be able to use it however I please within the confines of the law - not how GM or Ford has licensed me to use it. And if I can find or write software that will control the car's hardware better and give me better performance, shouldn't I be able to use that software? Last I checked, there was no licensing/fair use law against overclocking, for example - even though overclocking is always done through software (bios).

    So while I understand Creative's beef about messing with their software, the reason this is a firestorm issue is that since the software in question is a driver the hardware becomes an inseparable part of the equation.

    And this leaves aside the whole other issue of crippling.

    • He appealed to the public for donations, and made statements to the effect that he would have new, uncrippled drivers available faster if there were more donations.

      He shot himself in the foot when he did that.
  • Drivers in (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slapout ( 93640 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @04:58PM (#22934614)
    Windows are very difficult to write. If this guy modded someone else's, they should hire him.
  • by mlwmohawk ( 801821 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:04PM (#22934690)
    The person "modding" the driver has a license to use that driver. The person receiving the driver must have a license because they have a creative labs card.

    So, there is no "infringement" here.

    Daniel should phrase what he does better, he isn't getting donations for the "driver," as this is a free download and already licensed by creative. He is getting donations for the "work" of modding. In other words, he is being paid for support not the driver.

    Thus he is not running afoul of any IP laws. He is lawfully applying his expertise to private customers running third party hardware and and software, which they have the right to use.
  • by klui ( 457783 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:08PM (#22934746)
    I didn't recognize the name but "Braziliantech" did ring a bell. He did some pretty good mods for Asus's A7V BIOSes.
  • Analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis ( 1048476 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:16PM (#22934826)
    Software crippling is standard practice. I am a professional embedded software engineer and I guarantee that the majority of model sperated features are all only a few bits of cleverly coded SW to tell them apart. Hell most of the jobs I have ever had in consumer electronics or industrial applications are implemented this way - ie. one standard set of HW and a configuration file and different stickers to tell the top of the range from the basic model.

    This is really all Creative were doing, attempting to force enough of a difference between bottem end products and older products and the new top of the range technologies to ensure sales stay up. You cannot really blame them this this commercial decision.


    what I take exception to is the fact that they have made none of this clear to the consumers. and worse, they have actively degraded the functionality of hardware people have already paid for by means of drivers for a new operation system.

    In other words it is as though you purchased a car hifi and used it for a year in your Ford. Then you purchased an Mercedes and fitted the same car hifi and found the audio output was at half the resolution in your new car. If you have wanted to spend the money and pay for double the resolution then nobody would of batted an eyelid - but you would reasonably expect that the original performace would of been preserved. At the very least you would of expected some notification or warning.

    And thats why Creative are in hot water - apart from their shockingly rude and arrogant behaviour that is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:22PM (#22934898)
    Creative has replaced the original threatening post on the forum with a very defensive one [] Chunks of the original post are still available on the article. Here's a smart guy who archive the original post [] .
  • by Brit_in_the_USA ( 936704 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:35PM (#22935040)
    I went through SB live and incompatibilities with very popular VIA chip sets.

    I bought a Audigy (1) and never got the firewire port working or any drivers to work since XP SP2.

    For years I had been annoyed at the rubbish that installs with the drive CD's and how the GUI is totally at odds with Windows.

    I switched to Diamond (with DDL optical output) and Via sound cards (24bit / 96kHz) for a fraction of the price. I haven't looked back, updates are available for vista and they work just fine.

    Due to my bad experiences with Creative and driver support I actively steer clear of *any* product they make for over 5 years and advise family and friends to do the same.
  • by Knight of Shadows ( 1163917 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:45PM (#22935178)
    Dear Phil O'Shaunessy, We, the public, have heard your comments and belief that 'whether or not it cripples its Vista drivers is a "business decision that only we have the right to make." ' and we would just like to say we fully agree with and support your belief: any company has the complete and total right to be an absolute asshat and fuck over it's customers. The public, on the other hand, has the complete right to do anything and everything to put your sorry ass out of business, and to tar and feather your sorry ass and run it out of town on a rail. Now that you and your company has shown its colors, it is up to us, the public, to cut off your balls and run with them. Therefore, we have decided to not buy your lousy products, ever. We will do everything in our power to spread the word to our customers, friends, family, strangers on the street, on what a sad, pathetic bunch of fucktards you really are, and anything else imaginable to steal your sales and lessen your profit margin. Oh, and Phil, be careful when you are crossing the street, because none of us will bother braking for your evil, moneygrubbing, worthless ass, and will claim a temporary overwhelming need to do the world a solid after running it over. We don't need you, Phil, or your bullshit products. What you need, dickless, is our money, and we're putting an end to your shit now. Fuck you, and have a great day. There you have it, folks. This should be copied by each and every computer owner in the country, put into practice, and copies mailed to our friend Phil at Creative Labs. All it takes is ONE SHOW OF STRENGTH BY THE BUYING PUBLIC. LET'S SEND A CLEAR MESSAGE OF 'FUCK YOU FOR TRYING, YOU PIECE OF SHIT' TO THESE BASTARDS! Or you can sit on your asses and get what you deserve. Your choice.
  • by Whuffo ( 1043790 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @06:26PM (#22935664) Homepage Journal
    Creative had a good run for many years; perfectly adequate sound cards (not great, but not bad) and a line of reasonable MP3 players.

    But things have changed; the iPod has made Creative's portable music player largely irrelevant - and on-board sound is a standard feature of motherboards these days.

    So what is poor Creative to do? They could take the honorable path; see that their market has dried up and either innovate in another market or close down their business. But no; they're used to getting those dollars coming in on a regular basis and decided to try something less-than-honorable.

    But they got caught at it. Too bad; Creative is in a worse position now. Not only are they still faced with sharply declining revenues, they've also got a public relations nightmare to deal with too.

    Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch; here's payback for all those crappy drivers you dumped on your customers. Die in a fire, OK?

  • by Shemmie ( 909181 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @06:32PM (#22935720)
    Creative Forum []

    We have read the strong feedback about Creative's forum post regarding driver development by Daniel_k and other outside parties. Creative's message posted on our behalf by our Company spokesperson tried to address our concern about the improper distribution of certain software which is the property of other companies. However, we did not make it as clear as we would have liked that we do support driver development by independent third parties. The huge task of developing driver updates to accommodate the many changes in the Vista operating system and the extensive testing required, including the lengthy Vista certification requirements for audio, makes it very difficult for Creative to develop updates for all past products. Outside developers have been very helpful to Creative and our customers by developing updates for many of our Sound Blaster products, and we do support and appreciate these efforts. This however does not extend to the unauthorized distribution of other companies' property. We hope to work out a mutually agreeable method for working with Daniel_k in supporting his efforts in driver development. Going forward, we are committed to doing a better job of working more closely with third parties to support their development for our products and our customers.
  • by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @07:11PM (#22936092)
    I have a patent on sound waves and I'm pretty sure Creative is infringing on that. I was just going to let it go, but after this. Forget it. Time to call the lawyers..
  • by TheNetAvenger ( 624455 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @07:12PM (#22936112)
    Anyone that has worked with Vista over the past year usually know one thing. Creative is screwing its customers...

    There is no reason that the same hardware level of support is being provided by Intel and even generic Realtek drivers and yet the sound industry leader, Creative, has been unable to deliver working drivers.

    Vista new sound model is designed around an agnostic system that allows for more options than was ever available under XP, and Creative continues to tell people that they can't get the Vista drivers to work properly. If this is true, then Creative has horrible driver developers working on these products.

    Look at generic drivers from Realtek, on Vista they support as many of the new Vista features as they are capable of, even on old Audio hardware.

    Virtually every game out there, has also made adjustments to easily work with Vista's sound system, making it even EASIER for sound card manufacturers. Several games even have their own additions for EAX and other features, but you have to use non-creative cards for these features, which is freaking insane at best for Creative to let their cards be the only ones to consistently have problems and fail.

    XP's sound system was barely in the range of industry standards, not supporting a lot of features becoming standard for music professionals and even gaming enthusiasts. XP's sound had no idea of multi-channel (5.1,7.1,etc) had limits on sampling rates, and combining multi-application streams at high quality sampling rates.

    Microsoft's revamp in Vista was known a LONG time ago and was necessary to bring the Vista sound system up to the industry current standards, and also give Microsoft some design headroom to extend beyond what Apple and OSS was doing with Audio. (For example the self optimizing speaker technology, the basic realtime filtering of levels and noise, unlimited channels and sample rates, etc.)

    - In Vista you can use a crap internal microphone on a laptop and with it processing for feedback and background sound from the laptop, get ok recordings for meeting notes, and even handle the sound well enough that speech recognition works well on low quality input like htis.

    - Vista also handles internal processing and mixing of sound far beyond what XP did and even past Apple and other core technologies in the OSS world. Play any type of sound, same sound device, same speakers, and the Vista clarity is surprisingly there - making even high compression audio stretch back to levels that is borderline impressive.

    - MS did kill off the older version of DirectSound, because of the problems with it, and its dependance on the XP sound system, which was severely limited.

    10.1 DirectX replaces DirectSound for the hardware audio layer, and even prior to 10.1 sound in Vista is not 100% CPU bound, even though people try to scare people with this, as Vista is agnositic at what is processing the audio, but defaults to the CPU for advanced processing if the features are not inherent of the Audio hardware.

    This is where Creative messed up, and instead of working 'within' the new API and driver model provided, are trying to work around Vista's audio and driver model, implementing things in good old XP fashion, so there is no wonder why their drivers are crap on Vista.

    XP with basic API you could play sound, letting the format and output quality be handled outside the basic application level of understand. In Vista you can jam 20% of a sound to the RL speaker if you have Quad or higher speaker configuration. This is a good thing, and the right way audio should be handled from both a user and a developer standpoint.

    Creative continues to dig themselves into a hole with the whole Vista mess, especially starting out by not even having drivers during the beta process for Vista, tell all testers to wait until Vista was released, and then losing all that tester and developer feedback and time, and releasing crap drivers AFTER Vista RTM'd, in fact waiting until after Vista was shipping at the retail level in 2007.

  • by prxp ( 1023979 ) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @11:16PM (#22937492)

    From Daniel_K:
    What I did wrong
    Reversing ALchemy was also wrong, I know. But I reiterate, what is the point of improving ALchemy and changing for it, when it requires an improved driver? It was my protest against Creative.
    Just to clarify a few things. Maybe Daniel doesn't even know that, but reverse engineering is completely legal in Brazil, so he hasn't broken any laws. What he did is completely OK and law abiding.
    Actually things run even deeper. Copying stuff for personal use isn't illegal in Brazil, even if you don't have a license. It can be anything, books, movies, software, etc.

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham