Nvidia to blame for many early Vista crashes

Among the nuggets in the suit over Microsoft's "Vista Capable" logo program are some stats that show whose drivers were at fault in reported crashes. Nvidia errors accounted for nearly 30 percent of crashes.

There is a ton of interesting information in the documents that have been released as part of the Windows Vista Capable lawsuit.

There's the juicy e-mails that show Microsoft caving to pressure from Intel and lowering the graphics requirements to get the Vista Capable sticker. There's also Dell outlining all of the problems it had with Microsoft in getting Vista to market as well as with its many readiness programs.

For those that want to give the full documents a read, the Seattle Post-Intellingencer has posted the complete PDF files of the documents, linked to from this blog by Todd Bishop.

Another area that got some notice this week was the inordinate number of early Vista crashes that were attributed to Nvidia, according to a list from early 2007. Nvidia was cited as causing nearly 30 percent of early Vista crashes (the exact time of the report is not listed), while Microsoft itself was to blame for nearly 18 percent. Intel and ATI each accounted for about 9 percent of crashes, according to the documents.

"These issues are a year and a half old," Nvidia PR director Derek Perez said on Friday. Perez noted the company took a number of steps in response to the issues, including establishing a Web site where people could report such issues and said the company made significant progress in reducing those errors. "We continue to improve drivers," he said.

In a statement, Microsoft also pointed to the complexities inherent in creating new graphics drivers.

"Microsoft takes exhaustive steps in testing hardware compatibility internally, as well as by working directly with our partners, to address compatibility long before customers experience an issue," the software maker said. "However, testing can only be conducted under so many different circumstances, particularly with such an exceptionally complex code that graphic drivers have. Understanding this, Microsoft has set up a system to help quickly identify the problems, work to fix them and, if warranted, potentially push them through to customers via Windows Update. NVIDIA has taken similar steps, and since launching Windows Vista, Microsoft has seen great progress in addressing potential issues by NVIDIA."

One of the questions I have is which is worse--having buggy drivers, as Nvidia clearly did--or pushing Microsoft to lower its graphics requirements to include less-than-optimal graphics, as Intel appears to have done. Nvidia can and has improved its drivers, but there were a whole lot of systems pushed out in 2006 with the Intel graphics chip that did not initially qualify for the Vista capable logo.