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if no win2k specific drivers, which to try: nt4 or win98?

Posted on 2000-02-25
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In the absence of drivers written specifically for windows 2000, which drivers should I try first: the win98 or the nt4 drivers (to see whether they work)?

As I understand it, win98 introduced a new driver model that's _supposed_ to be native (but maybe non-preferred) for win2000 as well, so that in theory a driver written to the new standard should support both win98 and win2000.

However, I'm also under the impression that windows 2000 can deal with nt4 drivers the same way that win98 can deal with win95 drivers. Sometimes.

Assuming that I'm right on both counts (I could be dead wrong), should I try the win98 driver first, on the assumption that it will either work better than the nt4 driver (because it was written to support the new standard and thus be supported natively) or die a horrible death (if it was written for win95 and just happens to be supported by win98 in backwards-compatibility mode).

I suspect that even if it's true about 98 drivers, the vast majority of so-called "win98" drivers are really just written to the win95 driver model.

Of course, there's also the possibility that even drivers nominally written to the new spec (in theory) might not work, because the author(s) took shortcuts that win98 didn't notice, but win2k will notice and scream loudly about.

Of course, there's also the spectre that even drivers nominally written to the new spec (in theory) might not work, because the author(s) took shortcuts that win98 didn't notice, but win2k will notice and scream loudly about.

Still, I'd like to find out a definitive answer for this... Lots of people have been asking me, and I really hate not knowing for sure.
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Question by:jskubick
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8 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:CoolAss
ID: 2560031
Do not use Win9x drivers. Period. Win2k, as you know, is based on the NT kernel. And because of this, it uses the NT HAL, or NT Hardware Abastraction Layer. This means that you must use NT drivers on your Win2k box, or, of course, drivers specifically written for Win2k.

Win98, Win98SE, Win95 drivers are all more or less the same. None interact with the HAL, instead, they interact directly with the hardware itself. This won't work in NT because of security, and therefor won't work in Win2K.

If Win2K drivers don't exists (chances are they will soon) use NT4 drivers only. Using Win9x drivers will result in unpredicable outcomes.
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by:CoolAss
ID: 2560032
Abastraction = Abstraction... :-) I can't spell my first time through anything.
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by:Lermitte
ID: 2560544
Always use NT4 drivers first. If that don't work then you can try to install W98 drivers but I know (from betatesting) that 99% of the w98 drivers will not work...

So stay with the NT4 drivers and ask (seek) for W2K drivers

Mario
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Expert Comment

by:CoolAss
ID: 2560560
Do not try Win98 drivers... this is bad advice. Most likely, your system either won't boot or will crash soon after.

Win9x drivers are NOT for Win2k. Do NOT use them.
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by:Lermitte
ID: 2560570
In the beta-doc there was a advise to use the W98 drivers if something don't work. But I say that 99% don't work.

Mario
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Accepted Solution

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CoolAss earned 200 total points
ID: 2560617
Where in the beta documentation does it say this? Perhaps I am looking in the wrong place, but the only section on drivers states to only use the NT4 drivers, if available, otherwise wait for Win2k drivers to come out.

At any rate, in my experience, using Win98 drivers results in stuff breaking. If it does indeed say to use Win98 drivers in the docs, I still think they should be avoided, even if it means not having a functioning peice of hardware.

If you don't avoid it, you will no doubt sacrifice stability.
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Author Comment

by:jskubick
ID: 2561321
OK, I finally had a few hours to kill on Saturday morning and managed to find the defininitive answer in the MSDN knowledge base.

See: "Surveying the New Win32 Driver Model for Windows 98 and Windows NT 5.0"
 http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/periodic/period97/wdm1211.htm

(Yay! I KNEW I wasn't hallucinating & that it was for real, even if most of my friends thought I was crazy...)

In a nutshell, it basically says that a flawlessly-executed Windows 2000 driver can also work under Windows 98 *** IF *** the developer implements everything perfectly, takes no shortcuts, provides an occasional alternate method within the driver to be used by Win98, and gets really lucky.

While this might imply that a really progressive forward-looking developer might conceivably have written such a driver months ago and released it as a "Windows 98" driver, the odds of that actually happening in real-world corporate America is pretty slim (I'm a developer myself, although I don't do drivers, and god knows how many holy wars I've had over the issue of "elegant and flawless vs. good enough to sell")

Thus, as a practical matter, the fallback strategy looks like:

1. Win2000-certified

2. Win2000 beta, unless it has a bug bad enough to render it unusable

3. Win NT4 certified

4. NT 4 uncertified

5. Win98 certified -- but light a few candles & sacrifice a chicken first :-)
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by:Lermitte
ID: 2561381
So I was right that you can use a W98 driver, but I have already say that 99% don't work..

Mario
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