Steve's blog

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Vista 64 Blue Screen Hell

I recently updated my development box to a nice new quad core processor and with it stuck in 8Gigs of ram. I would have been more than happy to stick with Windows XP as I had on my old dev box but the 32 bit version is limited to 4G (more like 3.5G) of ram so all that extra goodness would have been wasted, hence I crazily decided to opt for Vista 64.

What a mistake! It's like using Windows ME all over again and we all know what a terrible product that was.

So to start with the motherboard an Asus P5Q PRO for some reason doesn't support sleep which is a big thing with Vista, I would go off to have dinner and come back to find the PC rebooting because it had gone to sleep. Sadly I wasn't always that lucky – it would often corrupt the CMOS and loose the date/time. If I had one of my Arduino based projects such as the connected it would also be frozen at the Bios Legacy USB detect stage.

I can't really blame Vista for what is a motherboard problem so I've disabled the sleep function and replaced it on the Start menu with Shutdown. When I wrote LazyLoad I didn't think it would be useful on Vista because of the improvements Microsoft made – It hasn't taken long for me to realise LazyLoad is still well worth running on Vista!

So onto the real big problem I'm having, almost daily blue screen of death's. This appears to be caused by the ATI graphics card – a Radeon HD 3650, just great. I regularly get a blank screen followed by Vista telling me it's recovered from a stopped graphics driver. However almost daily the screens start blinking darkness and then when I've had enough time to glimpse at the work I'm about to loose it all goes blue claiming an ati driver failed.

Just to really annoy me when the machine reboots Vista prompts with it's “Windows has recovered from an unexpected shutdown” and gives me a “Check for solution” option, it then appears to do something, followed by quietly hiding it's self never to be seen again, not a sorry we couldn't find anything, or a try the vendors web site for the latest drivers, or a yep we know another ati driver problem, nope, it just disappears as if it's embarrassed and wants to quietly leave the room having wet it's self.

Windows has recovered from an unexpected shutdown

I've had ATI cards before and not liked them, I really should have known better. Whilst looking for the link for the 3650 on the ATI site the search summed ati up for me. I entered hd 3650 and hit enter to search, not realising I had to change the “Select Site:” drop down. I got a JavaScript box saying “Please select a site.” and they kindly cleared my search text so I had to enter it again (whilst not making the same mistake of hitting enter) and then select the ATI site. How could something so simple be so unfriendly?

And what's with the improved TCP/IP stack in Vista. I though networking with Vista was supposed to be much improved. If I watch a movie that's on another machine one of two things happens, either the file explorer will freeze and show the green progress bar whilst trying to browse the folders or when I finally open the file my whole PC will freeze whilst Windows Media player opens the file. And if the other machine is busy doing something like a backup I really know about it on my Vista box (BTW – often the other machine is a Vista box!). I thought with 4 cores a gigabit network and an improved TCP stack Vista would still be usable whilst it tried to sort out connections with networked machines. My old XP box with it's single processor was is so much better for networking.

As for the new “improved” windows explorer, I so hate it, I mean really hate it. If I'm trying to copy files or folders with Explorer in details view (which I prefer) from one location to another I regularly end up with them going into a sub folder of the destination because of the change in the way the hover selection works as it's really difficult to get exactly between the folders when dropping. As for default view (list view) that's just to annoying, You've got loads of extra column headings and if you have a long file name it's often obscured, it looks like you can resize the columns but that doesn't work – you have to change to details view to do that – it gets me EVERY time and annoys me intensely every time.

Is it just me or has the audio stuff got worse, my last box (XP) pushed out the audio via the SP/DIF and headphones socket at the same time, I can't see how to do that in Vista, so if I want to switch from headphones to speakers I have to stop what I'm listening to, change the default or use something like WinAmp's settings to change the output (not easy to get to) then change to the RCA Digital output. What a pain in the ****, I want both outputs together – is that such a stupid requirement? I wonder if that's another Asus special.

I'm so very glad FireFox remembers the pages I had open, all to often I've been part way through reading an article for the PC to blue screen on me and by the time I'm back up and running I've forgotten where I found the article. Fire up FireFox and restore - magic! I so wish IE did the same, especially as it's a lot less stable than FireFox and crashes it's self frequently.

So in conclusion, it's really great so much effort has gone into the Aero to make Vista look nice whilst introducing whole new instability issues, revaming Windows Explorer to take annoying to a whole new level whilst totally defeating usability and that the TCP has been speeded up to the point that Vista to Vista networking freezes the machine and browsing a file share regularly messes up, that's on top of the slew of security measures which resulted in me being unable to browse my NAS without having to get into the depths of Vista settings.

I appreciate most of the problems are actually hardware (MB/Graphics card) but it's still annoying to have seen so much effort go into making the thing look nice only to have it fall over, I've seen it all to often with various products where the manufacture has put lots of effort into making the thing look really nice but failed to make a usable product (more on that and my home automation problems latter). Take for example software products that have their window an unusual shape - I know instantly that I'm not going to be able to use it, all to often I've tried software where the products a funny shape and the functionality and usability of the product are just so poor – please please please lets get back to making usable products and get over our obsessive desire for things to look pretty whilst not worrying about being able to use them.

Well the good news is in the hour it's taken me to write this the machines not blue screened!

Comments (1) -


    10/23/2008 3:01:45 AM |

    Same here.  I get almost daily BSOD with ATI 3650 on a Q6600 quad core with 8 gig and Vista x64.  I use this sucker for video editing and Adobe after effects and it flies but the BSOD has to be resolved.  I've tried a NUMBER of things so far with no luck.  Updated drivers - downgraded drivers - turned performance down to minimum - checked that nothing is overheating - tweaked system config and boot.ini  I haven't had a BSOD when turning off Aero so maybe there is something there.  I've scoured forums but so far no luck.  It may be a lemon video card in which case I will return the entire system and get one with a different video card because purchasing a new video card seems wasteful to me.

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