Is it too much to ask for driver bundles?

SumocatsTecraM7Compared to poor incarcerated Rob, I really don’t have much to gripe about when it comes to Windows 7 drivers for my Tablet PC, except I’m upgrading from XP to 7. That means a fresh install, which means fresh installation of drivers. Furthermore, Tablet PCs demand a few more drivers than plain vanilla laptops do, not just for the digitizer but also for screen rotation, accelerometer, and the usual extra few buttons.

Fortunately, Toshiba has me (mostly) covered with the driver hookup on their website. Unfortunately, the presentation isn’t all that friendly to users doing a fresh install, and I have to wonder why, in the midst of a new upgrade season, it isn’t easier.

Doing a search for my machine pulls up the list of drivers I need. But they’re listed individually, which means a multi-step downloading process for each one. Worse, most of them are still only listed as Vista or XP drivers. Filtering for Windows 7 drivers only shows the one that needed updating. The rest are older drivers that still work in 7. Some Vista drivers replace XP drivers, but all are listed in the search results. I think it’s fair to say that combing through Vista drivers and then back through XP drivers to fill the gaps is kind of a hassle.

I suppose I should be grateful the drivers are there at all, but is it really too much to ask that the drivers and instructions be bundled in a zip file or something? Why even offer them separately? The norm should be in bundles made for each PC. If I need less than all of them, I’ll only install the ones I need. No need to be stingy here. I’m using your brand. Not like I’m going to install them on a PC made by someone else.

As for my progress, I specified that I’m “mostly” covered because while I seem to have all the drivers I need, the inputs on my screen bevel aren’t all behaving. Power and security (ctrl-alt-delete) buttons work fine, but the fingerprint reader isn’t responsive, two pre-set buttons are both only pulling up Windows Mobility Center, my directional button won’t recognize press-and-hold and only orients for primary landscape (which means it’s flipped in slate mode), and my accelerometer-based screen rotation button works inconsistently (rotation app works fine when accessed directly, could be press-and-hold not working right).

Aside from those inconveniences, I’m up and running with Windows 7 on my Tecra M7. Oh, did I forget to mention I made a cheap upgrade from my Satellite R25 to a Tecra M7? Sorry. Will try to get to that. :)

12 Comments

  1. Fleon

    10/30/2009 at 9:07 am

    Driver bundles would be a good idea. The company I worked for years ago had them.

    However, you really still need to offer separate drivers. Why would I want to download a 500MB bundle if just my sound isn’t working?

    Reply

  2. Sumocat

    10/30/2009 at 9:50 am

    Fleon: I’d rather see split bundles in that case, maybe grouped by purpose (display bundle, security bundle, wireless bundle, etc.), but c’mon, 500MB is way beyond normal. I only downloaded a little over 200MB in drivers for a business-class Tablet PC. Most PCs would need a lot less than that.

    Reply

  3. Tim

    10/30/2009 at 9:58 am

    There’s always the steadily-improving Windows Update. It’s getting surprisingly good at finding drivers now.

    Reply

  4. GoodThings2Life

    10/30/2009 at 10:33 am

    A lot of OEM’s are like this Sumocat, but I agree it’s always been very irritating. Dell and HP do it the best, IMO, in that they at least let you choose the OS and then it shows all options… if the one you need doesn’t appear, try the Vista as a fallback. Problem solved… sort of.

    Your idea of a driver bundle would be great too. I know that Dell and HP both release a quarterly “Firmware CD/DVD” for their servers that has all their firmware updates for all devices bundled into one disk. You download the ISO, burn to CD, and run it on your servers. There’s really no reason they can’t do the same with drivers on the consumer side.

    Reply

  5. GoodThings2Life

    10/30/2009 at 10:35 am

    @Tim… yes, you’re exactly right… Windows 7 has found all but a handful of drivers for my hardware via Windows Update. Then, if I really feel compelled to download from the OEM, I can do so.

    Reply

  6. Brian

    10/30/2009 at 10:44 am

    Lenovo sort of does this. I installed a Lenovo app called “Updates and Drivers” as part of their ThinkVantage tools on my x200t tablet and it will identify and find drivers for all of my hardware, download and install them.

    So it’s not a driver pack but it is a fairly easy solution.

    Reply

  7. Tim

    10/30/2009 at 2:21 pm

    @Brian

    The reason I, and I feel certain a good number of others, don’t like those apps (HP has one pre-installed on their machines called HP Update, and my opinions stem from this since I see them more at where I work) is that it borders on being crapware for lack of a better word. Sure it performs a function, but a lot of these are set to run on startup, have bad designs that take up excessive amounts of system resources, and generally give you one more thing to close.

    When I bought my laptop, the first thing I did was clean install the OS back onto it, just to remove any crapware etc that was on there, and I include the updaters in that. I like to run with as few as possible processes going, especially at startup, and these utilities just add to that almost unnecessarily.

    Now if the manufacturer’s keep a relationship with MS to push their drivers out through Windows Update, that utility is solved with an existing solution, a much better design than having a manufacturer specific app.

    Reply

  8. dcboy123

    10/30/2009 at 2:55 pm

    Set the man free, but this should be a reminder, never buy dell.
    Viliv has been updating their devices from day one, each month another update to fix a problem discovered by users, if they make cars i am buying, until than “Set him free….”

    An I should mention that, I have two Dell machines at home and at work

    Reply

  9. echostryk

    10/30/2009 at 3:07 pm

    @Tim
    Lenovo’s driver update software used to have some of the issues you described, but the latest versions have improved dramatically. Version 4 of Lenovo’s system update does not run in the background/start with Windows. You can choose to run it when you need to, at which point it quickly can assess whether you are missing any drivers, etc. and gives you the option to select what to install. Windows Update has improved significantly, but it still left me with a couple of driver issues for custom Lenovo buttons on my X61t with Windows 7 64-bit. I was able to quickly find and install the needed drivers using Lenovo’s software. The convenience alone beats searching the manufacturers website for drivers and that’s even if they have the ability to narrow your search to the correct operating system. I personally think that a well designed update utility is even more useful than a driver pack.

    Reply

  10. Brian W

    10/30/2009 at 3:37 pm

    I was just going to say the same thing. I completely agree with Tim about pre-installed crapware and most utilities like those. But after having done the machine once with me hand locating and installing all the right drives and then again with the Lenovo utility, l can tell you that the utility works well.

    Lenovo’s website is particularly cumbersome to try and find what drivers you need.

    Reply

  11. lsbeller

    10/30/2009 at 4:27 pm

    It is funny that you post this today since I just installed a new clean OS on a Sony laptop that I have and started to download all of the machine specific drivers when I noticed a tag next to each driver on the Sony support site called “add to Sony Download Taxi.” I was able to check off each driver (35 in total) and add them to this “taxi” download tool and at the end, click one button that downloaded them all to my computer and then provided a mechanism to install each driver.

    I did need to install this small “taxi” app onto my computer but to your point, it sure was nice to click one button to download all of these files and then easily step through the installation of each driver.

    Steve

    Reply

  12. Brett Gilbertson

    10/31/2009 at 7:17 pm

    Motion Computing publish quarterly update bundles for their drivers. I find that extremely handy… Although I don’t think they have published Win 7 bundles yet.

    Actually, maybe it’s because they only have a few models at a time, but I find their driver pages the easiest to deal with of them all…

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *