Windows is a Four-Letter Word

Since my computer is almost three years old, I immediately hoped it was a hardware problem so that I’d have an excuse to get a new machine (my motherboard only supports AGP 1x cards, so a new graphics card might have been hard to find). But I made the mistake of mentioning the problem at work today, and one of my friends suggested I look for a new driver and see if that would help.

This seemed like a good idea, since I was running the original Win98 drivers for the Viper 330. And, sure enough, there were new drivers on Diamond’s site. And a new BIOS, too. So I downloaded them and set to work.

The install procedure seemed simple enough: reset the system to VGA, reboot, and run INSTALL from the directory with the new drivers. When I told Windows to drop down to VGA, it complained — said that wasn’t the hardware I had. But it was willing to let me do it anyway, and I rebooted in glorious 16-color, 640×480 resolution, ready for the next step.

The next step seemed pretty easy, too; but Diamond’s install program told me that I had some files which were newer than the ones it wanted to install, and suggested I keep the ones I had. So I did. And then I rebooted.

And then things started to go wrong. Windows wouldn’t let me set the display to anything better than straight VGA resolution (though it claimed I was running the Diamond Viper 330 drivers). If I did try, it required me to reboot, then told me that my hardware wouldn’t support this mode, and dropped back to VGA resolution.

16 colors is not enough to edit pictures, so I decided I’d better persever. My next step was to reinstall the driver again. I got the same results. At least it was consistent.

So then I flashed the new BIOS into the card (a step I took most reluctantly). And I rebooted Windows. And nothing had changed.

By this time, I was getting annoyed — I actually had things I wanted to do on the computer other than play with drivers. So I deleted the display driver and let Plug-and-Play reinstall it from the Win98 distribution.

This got me back on the air — I could go back to my normal resolution and color depth — but when I went into Thumbs Plus, it still got the blurry picture, so I hadn’t fixed my original problem.

I decided to make one more attempt; this time, instead of using the Diamond installer, I used the regular Windows driver install. It complained that I might not be using the best driver in the world, but it installed the driver with no warnings about downlevel modules. And when I rebooted for the tenth time this evening, it worked — and so did Thumbs Plus!

So I guess I can wait a little longer for a new system. That’s probably just as well — it’d come with the successor to Win98, and I feel like I’ve been through enough for a while without telling Microsoft to go ahead and “Windows Me!”