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back to article Creative threatens developer over home-brewed Vista drivers

Creative Labs has enraged customers by threatening a developer with legal action after he wrote drivers that allowed its products to run smoothly on Vista. Soundcard maker Creative accused the developer, known only as daniel_k, of theft and warned him not to infringe its intellectual property. Daniel_k has created a number of …

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Congratulations, Creative

On making yourselves look like yet another bunch of Corporate Fuckwits.

Nice one.

I guess they'll be shooting their own bugs then unless the developer is big-hearted enough to show them his sourcecode amendments (and therefore presumably HIS IP). I hope he doesn't although that's a little harsh on user of the hardware. Maybe they could ebay their Creative gear and get something else instead.

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bah

When will you people learn? Creative are not in business to give you fantastic audio, a good aureal experience or even a usable system. They're in business to take money from your pockets. And stop bitching about their products not working, you're using Vista for gods sake.

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Linux

when...

... did IT as an industry give over complete control to PR / Comms and Legal dept?

Those muppets have crippled other indutries with their playground level tamtrums and are fast killing IT.

Last creative card i buy (they were good once, but nothing special anymore unless you are running serious stuff).

As for the developer, come to Open Source, we'll welcome you!!!

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Stop

Avoid

Sounds like a good reason not to use Creative or Vista

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Anonymous Coward

Balders

sounds like a bag of grapefruits to me...

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Creative lost the plot a long time ago

I run Vista and have an Sblive 5.1 Digital . The generic drivers for Vista are appalling . Creative said get an Xfi as thats compatible . I found the KX Project drivers and went from crap stereo and no microphone to full 5.1 and the card working as well as it had in XP .

My brother in law bought an Xfi for his new build also running Vista and its bloody appalling . The drivers are dire . An update or 2 later and its still terrible . Im going to go looking for these wonder drivers . Give the man a job already . He has done what you couldnt . I think they have a bloody cheek shipping the product with these horrible drivers supplied .

The problem as I see it is if you dont buy a Soundblaster what the hell do you buy ? . Soundblaster was feted as THE soundcard to have . So what now ? .

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Anonymous Coward

Fight Fire with Fire

Maybe Creative wont be so keen to involve the lawyers if someone decides to complain that goods marked "vista compatable" are not - clearly a mis-selling of goods. Fight fire with fire!

This attitude is one reason why I have replaced all of the creative labs products that I once owned with non creative items. A good company gone bad it seems

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Idiots

Dit I say "idiots"? Quite. they are idiots!

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Not surprising.

Creative's portable media players only come with XP drivers by default (I'm lead to believe they supply Vista drivers online -- 2K and earlier are unsupported). I don't know how Mac fans would cope -- but if you're a penguin fan they don't seem to want your custom.

Methinks Creative care more about "protecting rights holders" than making useable products.

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Classic strategy

Funnily enough, I am currently reading a book called "The Undercover Economist" that explains that behaviour by companies. It goes something like this: intentionally cripple your cheaper/older products so that people have a reason to buy the more expensive ones, in this case by providing sub-standard drivers for Vista. The problem when you do this through software is that a bright hacker can ruin your plans by writing good drivers. In this case, a company has two choices: 1. say thank you, distribute the better products and go to plan B to milk cash from customers another way; 2. threaten the hacker with a lawsuit to safeguard plan A, which looks like what Creative is doing here. The problem with the second solution is that there is a risk it will backfire as a PR disaster that can lose you customers and cost you more than going to plan B would have done.

This looks like an own goal to me: Customers 1 - 0 Creative

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how come

how come one guy can do what an entire company cant. Seems like creative is more embarrassed then wanting to protect their IP.l

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Overclock.net

http://www.overclock.net/hardware-news/313210-ocn-creative-s-fall-glory.html

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Flame

Capitalism is democracy, not freedom!

Phil O'Shaughnessy is right, in a capitalist economy those users are free to use another product. People often forget companies exist to create profit, not to help you, not to serve you...

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If only...

If only there was some organisation devoted to the new frontier of electronic freeedom, or someone advocating free software and backing up their beliefs with legal muscle... Nah, it'll never happen: none of these cases will ever go to court. Nobody serious about computing would do anything like that.

Still, it's a shame, because seeing that one go to court would make fools of Creative Labs. The document discovery required in such a case might also reveal that Creative are forced to act this way in order to retain their Microsoft certification: their board live under the threat that every single Creative Labs device will one day be 'decertified' and prevented from running protected media under Windows.

I wonder how that would play in the press... If there still is a free press: much of the mass news media is owned by people who have an important financial interest in the in the next-case-but-one, where we establish a legal precedent that states whether the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a license to ignore the antitrust laws. Do Microsoft, or the content owners who now seem to be Bill's paymaster, have the legal right to selectively 'freeze out' hardware manufacturers who don't toe the line?

It occurs to me that Creative Labs might actually gain more than they lose from taking this case to court. Unless, of course, their legal team are as badly-managed as their developers: given the clumsy way that they have behaved so far, this seems all too likely.

And what do Creative Labs have to lose? We already know they're fools and their hardware drivers don't work particularly well anyway.

Of course, a court case might also permanently blacklist and burn our promising young programmer's career - at least, in the world of large corporations in partnership agreements with Microsoft. But there are worse things than starting out in a department which ships bad code, learning to accept working that way, ending up managing the process and forcing it on a new generation of recruits, and eventually directing legal operations against the the sort of promising young programmer that you used to be.

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Pirate

Should have posted a torrent

I think this guy should have told them to piss off and started a torrent containing the drivers. Once something like that is started it cant be stopped easily.

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Creative Death Wish

Let's see . . . Creative Labs sells hardware, right?

Yet Creative Labs has long been extremely hostile to extending its hardware to platforms it lacked the imagination (and the will to profit!) to port drivers for. MacroHard must have the cattle prods set to incinerate for Creative Labs to deliberately engage in actions that will rapidly sound taps over it as a business enterprise.

So, what next? Is Creative going to go after the Linux and BSD drivers?

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Paris Hilton

Fail

The best idea is to just avoid Creative products. The bit I liked the most was (from Creative);

'Ok, I see a lot of negativity here. Please lets cut the bad talk. We try our best to get working drivers and sure we might not be the best coders but god knows you're really only paying for the low end cards anyway, if people want the professional stuff they would be getting the true pro stuff, its a get what you pay for thing, so don't complain so much, we'll get the drivers working eventually.'

Paris, because she could write better drivers.

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Typical of the way things seem to work these days

My soundcard was so quiet under Vista it was unusable for the Media Center even on full volume. I downloaded the official drivers and it made no difference. I was going to try daniel_k's drivers, but after I uninstalled the official ones in preparation for installing his the volume returned to normal (the same it was under XP). So I decided not to install daniel_k's drivers but I really appreciate his efforts, the Creative drivers and software for Vista seems to be an utter pile of shite - what a lame company, maybe they ought to merge with BT, Virgin Media, Talk Talk and Phorm, they can probably analyze what kind of music you're playing through the soundcard so they can target you with adverts. Seems like the kind of thing Creative's management would be up for given their recent disregard for their customers.

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Alert

Give the guy a job...or pay him a few dollars

This sounds like a typical "the company knows best" attitude when in actual fact, it's a complete farce......

If Creative really were that "creative", they would have dealt with the situation long ago, by providing the very drivers that their customers needed...which would have prevented the situation from happening in the first place....

But due to their failure, this has prompted someone to do their job for them...and made them look very stupid in the process....

Wise up Creative....give the guy a break...he might help you to save your business (coz with so many mobo's now coming with onboard sound, who needs an add-in card these days ??).

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Creative's attempt at market manipulation exposed

One thing that this furor over the Creative Labs drivers has done is to widely expose their attempt to force people into a hardware upgrade cycle through deliberate failure to support their current hardware under new operating systems. They have been doing this for several years now, the only thing that has really kept them in the sound card business is the gaming industry, certainly the quality of their products and their customer support has not.

This is the story that needs to be investigated and followed up, Daniel_K's drivers exposed the the fud that Creative has been generating wrt to their hardware and the Vista OS. It is time for the technology press to fully expose the truth in this issue, let the chips fall where they may.

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Coat

Definite PR disaster

Creative should be thanking the guy for doing what they couldn't. Instead they want to force new hardware sales onto the unlucky souls who have been duped into "upgrading" to Vista. This puts Creative into the same anti-consumer league as companies like Sony, M$ and BT.

Fortunately, pretty much all of the recent Creative hardware has been rubbish, along with all the software ever supplied with their products, so I won't be missing anything by never buying from them again.

The good news is that this wanton upsetting of existing customers makes space in the market for new companies (who want happy customers) to spring up. Roll on some competition.

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I've come close to purchasing Creative products before...

Some nice sound cards and USB-boxes. Very tempted a few times. Never got around to buying any so far, but I'm still in the market. Now their name is poised to be flicked into the boycott bin beside HP.

Over to you Creative...

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Dead Vulture

Business as usual for Creative

So the same company responsible for the SLI Screech of Death fiasco is more interested in forcing customers to buy new sound cards than solving the issues with their own drivers.

Sounds like business as usual for Creative, yet another example of a company giving it's customers the shaft whilst it exploits its monopoly position......

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Dead Vulture

170,000 usrs can't wrong!

The enraged thread on creative's forum numbered 160 pages this morning and clocked over 170,000 page views! And that was just over the weekend, before it was picked up by the news sites.

Calling this a PR disaster is puttting it mildly, but to those of us who have suffered at the hands of Creative's senseless disregards for its customers, it's nothing new...

I personally returned the last creative product I bought when the vista drivers proved flaky since last time I checked I was not getting paid to be their beta tester...

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Gates Horns

They are legally obligated to criple their products

If you go to this site called "The Register" you can read about all the legal hassles M$ has imposed on its hardware providers so that they cannot provide drivers that allow the digital content of DRM protected files (which as The Register has noted are going out of fashion with the content providers) to be extracted.

Just remember that content is king and the users are presumed idiots or they wouldn't be M$ customers, now would they?

-HJC

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Way to do Daniel!

If Creative cannot put out a good set of VISTA drivers, I salute anyone with the smarts to do so. Shame on Creative for being a "prick" in this matter.

I'm a developer and really appreciate all the assistance I can get to arrive at a great product. Creative should take the same mindset!

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Paris Hilton

Remarkable decision

Just going by what I read here -

Has anyone ever done a study on what point a corporation begins to behave as if it is brain damaged?

If the guy is producing a better product then your own developers then hiring him should be a serious consideration I would think.

Also - considering the way executives move around shouldn't we have some kind of exec monitoring service? I for one would like to know if any of these guys get hired by the nookyoolar industry so I can nip down to my bunker.

Just going by what I read here.

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He probably did not write his own drivers...

I am *guessing* that this developer reverse engineered the drivers (nothing illegal btw), and then patched the drivers with bug fixes. Then he distributed the modified drivers, against creative's copyright license agreement. As opposed to say, releasing his own proper drivers for the sound card.

If it really is the case that this developer released his own "home brewed" drivers as the article implies/states, then creative would not have a leg to stand on and their actions are shameful. This goes much further than not publicizing the interface specs; it is actively preventing others from interfacing with the device using their own implementations (think linux drivers). In which case creative really deserves a beating here.

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Mr Shaughnessy's e-mail is on creative's website

As per e-mail:

Dear Mr Shaughnessy,

I have been a Creative customer for nearly 2 decades, from my first SoundBlaster PRO card in the early 90s to my current Creative MP3 player. I am the manager of a technical consultancy firm and in the past I have not hesitated to recommend your brand to my clients and colleagues.

However, I recently read about your heavy-handed legal assault on a volunteer developer who had produced working Vista drivers for your products and I am dismayed by your attitude towards hobbyist developers.

These developers often spend hours poring over the inner workings of your company's products out of a love for the technology - hours which are completely uncompensated and technology which they often purchase at their own cost from your company as soon as it is released (complete with "early adopter" price premium). They are also the kind of people who are called upon by friends, colleagues and business owners to recommend technology products.

Mr daniel_k's work did not in any way allow himself or any other users of Creative technology to deprive Creative of revenue or offer a means for them to do so. In fact, they'd need to have purchased Creative technology to use Mr daniel_k's modified drivers.

Neither did daniel_k's work attempt to mislead people into thinking his product was authorized by Creative. Sure the drivers may not have passed through Creative's own internal quality control process, but the kind of people who scour bulletin boards looking for homebrew drivers are fully aware that they are using third-party code - even if such code is unstable and crashes their computers they will know that it is a problem with the author's code and not the Creative product itself.

Openness and ease of modification/programming have always been one of the best things about Creative products - I seem to remember the SoundBlaster becoming a de-facto standard which others emulated because of this ease of programming. Similarly, the most open products in today's marketplace become the most popular - look at the success of the Tivo, the Asus Eee and the Linksys WRT54L[inux] series of routers - all leaders in their respective categories in part because they allow and even encourage tinkering.

I urge you and your company to reconsider your approach to hobbyist developers - your most loyal brand ambassadors in a highly competitive marketplace.

Incidentally, I modded the hard drive in the MP3 player to 100Gb - does this mean I am considered a thief rather than a loyal customer?

Kind regards,

G.

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Reading between the lines...

>> We own the rights to the materials that you are distributing. By enabling our technology and IP to run on soundcards for which it was not originally offered or intended, you are, in effect, stealing our goods.

Translation: We intentionally didn't provide decent drivers for existing products so that users would be forced to upgrade their soundcards after installing Vista. By providing working drivers you have deprived Creative of these potential sales.

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Linux

Incredible..

..that intelligent people are made into criminals but companies who are just too lazy to properly support hardware that's getting on a bit. I have a Live! 24bit External box which I really like but the support and software is shocking. Once I get it working on a machine (which can take a good few minutes), I relax in the knowledge that I don't have to go through the painful process again for a little while!

Same thing with my Canon scanner - perfectly good hardware and no Vista drivers - shocking.

Oh, and if you read this, daniel_k, I could do with WM6 for my HP iPaq 6915 - HP clearly don't give a toss about it.

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Gates Horns

Then they need to get a move on

What about all the "home brewed" drivers for Linux? when are they gonna get a move on those people? This is another asnine attempt by a company to get in good with the beast from Redmond. Second it does not specify if he wrote his own code or just modified their code? Third and what everyone fails to see is that how is he stealing the IP? did he charge for his driver? Those F#@ktards at Creative need to pull their head out of there a$$es and realise that all he was trying to do was to get something to work on an OS that doesn't work!

BillG because high powers forbid something actually work on VISTA!!

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Paris Hilton

Talk about poor customer relations

How dare you produce software for our hardware thats better than the stuff we produce. We were forced to cripple it, had to make it integrate with vista seamlessly.

Guess I'll be avoiding creative then.

Paris for the intellectual aspect

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"Creative"...?

Well it's certainly a creative way to shoot your own business in the foot!

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Anonymous Coward

This guy got something to work properly on Vista?

Microsoft should employ him!!

But seriously, Creative, you should learn the difference between friend and foe

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Paris Hilton

Sign

Once again another major company shows it doesnt give a damn about the quality of its product or customer experience. Instead they want to milk you for everything they can and provide rubbish in return, how the mighty have fallen.

Paris because well she was feeling a little unloved ;)

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Go

I think we should come up with a new term - lititards

noun.

Meaning those who act like they would rather sue than act sensibly about something esp. when this is patently not in their own interests either on a PR, financial or intellectual level. I would list some well known lititards but I fear their litigious wrath may be poured upon me. I'm sure we could all name some though.

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Unhappy

so many alternatives out there

theres...err...

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hj

you buy crap, we give you crap

http://forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board/message?board.id=Vista&message.id=23909

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Alert

pure greed

It seems creative got caught in a game of greed ,deliberately making drivers for older cards with reduced functionality so everybody would jump on the band wagon and buy their new line of cards out later this year.

Seems like they are using Phorm's PR team , 1792 post since friday on the one topic

...anybody want to buy any Creative or Phorm shares they are going cheap funny how in this technological fantasy land we live in words cost money, maybe they can get gerald rattner as their next CEO.

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of course

this is a way to get people to buy new cards, but consider this.

what if he mearly made and sold a fancy case to put the sound card in, maybe a bit pointless but he is still making money from their design.

as indeed are the companies that make speakers.

if Ford made two versions of the mundano, where the only difference was a small tab of plastic in the engine bay, that when fitted doubled performance, and someone found a way of making the same thing.. would they be allowed to sell it.. not a different design, but it happens to work.

unless he is downloading creative code, 'hacking' it and then passing it off as his own why is this even a story?

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Retards..

Calling these people retards is being very kind. Everybody that purchased these "vista ready" cards should demand a full refund.

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Stop

Don't own any creative hw..

... but I certainly won't be buying any in the future as a result of this stupidity. Any possible loss of their IP has been totally wiped out by this massive PR fiasco.

In the US this sort of nonsense is happening more and more frequently. A seeming injustice is thrown out to the public with almost universal condemnation of the perps. It seems the bean counters and pencil pushers are so inept they just don't understand the market they are in any longer.

Power to the people - after all, we pay the bills.

Cheers,

Mike

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Unhappy

Still hope?

Are these improved drivers still available anywhere?

I have an Audigy 2 ZS and it's the only piece of hardware left in my machine that the manufacturers haven't bothered producing proper Vista drivers for. I can't even use EAX on it because it forces itself into software mode. I've given up hope for Creative producing working drivers and think I'll be voting with my feet when I look to buy my next soundcard.

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Bronze badge

Please interview daniel_k

The Register needs to get in motion and have a real interview with a "rogue" developer, like daniel_k. Let's find out how he went about developing the drivers, and what he will be doing next.

As for Creative, I have no idea what is going through their heads. They have Vista drivers, but the drivers don't work. Creative *intends* their hardware to function under Vista, so that is a target OS. daniel_k creates drivers which enable the function of their hardware for the intended OS. Creative then claims that the drivers enable their hardware to function on an OS where it was not intended to work.

So let me get this straight: Creative really *doesn't* want their hardware to work under Windows Vista.

Maybe they want to go out of business.

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Dead Vulture

The answer is obvious folks...

Creative now joins other crap companies on the list of people I will never do business with. I'm quite good at holding a grudge thank you. I haven't bought a CD since the RIAA started suing people, I won't buy Sony products since their rootkit debacle, its a long and ever growing list. I remember the day (way back in the Win31 days) when Soundblaster was a great name. By the late 90's when they couldn't provide decent drivers to keep their crappy products working under NT4 I knew they were done. It only took about 100 BSOD's to learn that lesson.

I guess a dead bird is the closest icon I'll find since you don't offer a steaming pile of shit yet. << Hint, hint!

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Happy

Thank you, Creative

Thank you, Creative, for making your policies towards your users so crystal clear. I was currently considering my options for my next mp3-player, and the list just got shorter. Thank you for making my choices easier, I really appreciate this. :)

//Svein

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Well...

I'd just like to be the first to say: FUCK YOU.

I don't know why Creative would be perceive this as a bad thing, although I can take a guess: I gather there is a class action lawsuit in progress surrounding the "Vista Capable" claim of a number of companies and Microsoft. I can only imagine these patches provide proof that Creative's customers ARE aware of the issues (proving their existence), and therefore, by definition, the hardware is not "Vista Capable".

Who knows, they could just be bastards.

I shall have to watch for the inevitable Streisand effect (I pity the fool who doesn't use google), and just hope this guy continues releasing his patches anonymously.

I certainly will never buy another creative product, and with any luck others will follow suit.

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Best way to solve this

Not buying the creative products will very quickly fix this problem!

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