Sunday, April 27, 2008

Don't Feel Bad, It's Also Amateur Hour at Analog Devices

Analog Devices, whose D/A, A/D, and DSP circuitry power on-board sound in everything from ThinkPads to ASUS' main line of motherboards, makes a wicked bad driver suite.

Last summer, I was troubleshooting a situation where laptops were exhibiting lots of really short freezes at a close-to-the-metal level ... keystroke input being delayed, or mouse cursors getting jittery. Turned out to be DPC storms resulting from the Analog Devices SoundMAX driver and usermode controls.

Today I was struggling with the latest flavor of this driver set, which attempts to detect what you've plugged in to which port, and then auto-configure. Which it does wrong, forcing you to come up with tricks to get basic things like a headset and microphone working. Guys, we've had the "green" and "pink" sockets on sound cards for like 15 years now, give me some credit here.

But that's not what got me really annoyed. No, these guys have gotten themselves really confused about how multi-user logon and fast user switching works on XP. They've only had seven years to get that right. They pop up some of their controls and wizards in the wrong user session ... when I tried to close them and switch back to the account I needed to be on, their driver blue-screened my box.

As a developer, I install all kinds of stuff on my machines and I often torture them in unseemly ways. But, since 2001 when I started using Windows XP, this is the first time I've had a blue screen during a regular old user session, after a successful boot.

This is a WHQL certified driver too. For a long time there were problems where developers didn't get their drivers WHQL certified, which led to users clicking the infamous "continue anyway" button, and companies ignoring WHQL; I'd hate to suppose Microsoft solved that problem by letting junk like this pass the test.

No comments: