Driver Availability

By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2009-08-17 Print this article Print

On both of my test systems, plus several others on which I have installed Windows 7 RTM (including Lenovo T60p and X61 laptops), driver availability for recent-model systems (3 years old or younger) was surprisingly good with just the installation media--and even better upon first connection to Windows Update.  On all four systems mentioned above, the only device that could not obtain a driver in this manner was a wireless WAN card in one of the laptops.

However, the functioning of the drivers was still a little dicey in some cases. With the Lenovo X61, for example, the 64-bit Win7 video driver for the laptop's Intel 965 chipset adapter  technically worked, but only with a lot of tinkering--particularly with an external monitor attached to the laptop's VGA connector. In this case, getting the external monitor to the maximum supported resolution required me to periodically re-adjust the monitor refresh rate.

I expect Windows 7's driver support and performance to improve significantly before the operating system's official mid-October launch. However, don't expect legacy support for older devices to magically appear. If a vendor never created a driver that worked well with Vista, don't expect one to show up for Windows 7.

Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at

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