It’s a well known fact that Creative hasn’t been the most beloved driver supplier, but this time they really stepped on their own toes. Daniel Kawakami, a.k.a. Daniel_K, has been a godsend to many owners of Creative’s products, since he succeeded where Creative’s driver team failed – and that’s making quality drivers (although functional drivers might be a better description). So, Creative stems his efforts by threatening legal action.
X-Fi cards are being sold with a Vista Compatible logo but many X-Fi customers quickly realize that Vista Almost-Compatible is the term that should have been used and would, in fact, portray this situation. Heck, it would’ve at least been honest.
Creative’s legal mumbo-jumbo aside, one would think that improving the drivers for free would benefit Creative – but one would be wrong. Daniel_K found out that Creative has, through their drivers, imposed limitations on their own hardware and thus he lifted them. He managed to enable X-Fi’s software-based Audio Crystalizer feature on Audigy cards, activate Dolby Digital Live on X-Fi cards, and removed a purposeful bug where Live!/Live! 5.1 would sound distorted in Vista.
Now, why would Creative do that? The answer is simple – although their slightly older equipment will support newer features, they still want you to buy their new cards. Creative even mentioned that what they enable/disable is their own business, but this time they’re stepping on their customers’ toes, because this is no longer an issue of features but compatibility. We bought the products, we demand drivers!
This brings us to Linux support. At one point Creative said Linux drivers for X-Fi were delayed due to increased need for human resources on X-Fi Vista compatibility work, but some job they did. Not only is X-Fi still buggy in Vista, but the “compatibility work” has, it seems, turned out to be driver crippling work. Well, Creative better get creative in solving this mess, because they’re the only company that I’m aware of that tricks their users into buying new products by creating artificial incompatibility. As for Daniel_K, we wish him the best of luck.
You can read more here, check out what some users did to their X-Fi’s here, and read the explanatory mail by Daniel_K here.