More thoughts on PC Upgrade.

I’m running Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 on an HP 864 PC – Media Center 2005 is awesome, each release of the Media Center software is better than the last, the 2005 release really is the best yet, really well thought out UI, all the most commonly used tasks easy to find – but this post is more about software/hardware update than Media Center 2005.

The HP 864 is running a Realtek 8139 network card, I have an nVidia FX5700 video card, and a SoundBlaster Audigy2 sound card. I’ve seen a blue screen that was related to the Realtek network card – a search of the Realtek site gave me an updated driver which seems to be performing ok.

The biggest problem I had with MediaCenter and drivers was related to the WinTV-PVR 250 card – The software/drivers that shipped with the WinTV-PVR 250 card installed ok, Media Center was able to find the hardware but wasn’t able to sync the cable TV signal – it turns out that I needed a specific driver to enable MCE2005 to work cleanly with the WinTV-PVR 250 card.

So, why is it so hard for a user to locate and install the correct (not the latest) drivers for a system, WindowsUpdate gets me most of the way (but didn’t list the Realtek networking driver update). Should it be the responsibility of the applications to determine/install the correct drivers ? – probably not, since an application shouldn’t need to know about the underlying hardware, right? that’s the purpose of device drivers, to abstract applications away from the underlying hardware so that you CAN swap hardware components and the operating system and drivers continue to work as expected. The next problem is the user unfriendly error messages that ship with most software “Error 0x12345678 Code=7” – How does that help me as a user to determine and rectify the problem without needing to contact a support group? – and if I need to rebuilt or re-install my operating system or applications then how do I easily get the mix of 3rd party drivers back to the point where everything just works.

This seems to fit somewhat with the “Consumer Electronics too complicated” survey – are PC’s too hard for the average user to configure and fix ?

– Mike

Comments (6)

  1. Smeghead says:

    I have a sneaky feeling you will say everything from MS is "Awsome". Nothing to see here, move along.

  2. Mike says:

    not so, there are some products like Media Center 2005 that are a big step forward compared to Media Center 2004, if I don’t think something works well, or has problems I will certainly say so…

    – Mike

  3. Matt says:

    Greetings. I too have the HP 864 running Media Center ’04… how did you go about upgrading to the ’05 addition?

  4. Mike says:

    Err, um, I picked a build of Media Center 2005 from the internal product server and installed that on my Media Center PC – I’m not sure what the plans are for upgrading existing hardware to the latest (and greatest) version of the Media Center software – it might be good to contact HP and see if they know what the plans are.

    – Mike

  5. Chris says:

    I’m looking at putting the fx5700 in my hp 896c. was the install easy? did you have to upgrade the power supply (mine is 200W)?

  6. Mike says:

    The install was very simple, and I didn’t need to upgrade the power supply.

    – Mike