Drivers - everything just works?
On the subject of drivers, we were amazed with the latest build of Vista. After loading Vista for the first time, we expected the need of having to install a bunch of drivers to make everything work - and possibly certain devices not working properly or not at all. To our surprise, we didn't have to install ANY drivers at all - everything just worked!
It was a big shock to hear the Vista welcome sound on the very first load of Vista on the new install and see our RAID 0 array drive detected - definitely a vast contrast from Windows XP. The resolution and refresh rate of the monitor were set at the optimal settings - in my case 1920 x 1200 (Dell LCD). While it didn't detect the monitor, it did come with nVidia GeForce drivers for the 7900GS included. For the best performance during our benchmarking, we upgrade the drivers to the latest on the nVidia website, which were ForceWare 96.33 BETA from September 1st 2006. While it's not as refined as the latest XP driver, it works fine as you will see in our benchmark testing later.
As far as updating drivers went, the only driver we updated was the graphics card. As we mentioned, everything else just worked including HD Audio out of the box. Once Vista is fully released, all hardware companies will come out with new Vista specific drivers which will be tweaked for better performance, stability and features for Microsoft's latest OS.
If you're running a current modern system with standard components, you have no need to worry about driver support. Although, if you are running an older system with non-regular hardware components such as TV Tuners or other unusual or old devices, you probably should wait for the hardware vendor to come out with an actual Vista driver for optimal performance and stability. We're unsure just how many devices will be supported in Vista itself but time will soon tell once it has been released.
Included driver support in Vista impressed us with our particular test system and that's a great sign as Vista's launch is not too far away. Now we're ready to move onto the benchmarks and work out if there are any tangible performance differences between Windows XP and Vista.