Yes, these drivers are WHQL Certified!
Now we are passing the ball (responsibility) over to Microsoft, in this part of the article. nVidia's ForceWare 96.85 drivers were released on October 17, 2006 and are WHQL certified! That means, before nVidia releases the drivers, they are checked by Microsoft and officially approved and certified for use in their operating system. For a fact, we know this process for ATI Radeon Catalyst drivers takes around 24 hours (give or take) - is that enough time to properly test a driver from all aspects of possible error? Obviously not, as they didn't pick up on the error we found. Microsoft dropped the ball here, too.
So, how on earth could Microsoft approve ForceWare 96.85 drivers knowing that GPU temperature monitoring was no longer supported under their latest OS? Did they not think what might happen if the graphics card overheats in Vista? The usual mechanism in Windows XP is not present which tells the system to power down or crash. The answer is simple - the drivers should have never passed WHQL approval in Redmond by Microsoft and never even made it to the nVidia website for public consumption. It's a major Vista driver blunder by two big companies.
We know Vista RTM has only just been released recently but many people have been using forms of Vista (RC1 and RC2 and even previous releases) for quite some time now. We also appreciate Vista (final RTM) is a new operating system and nVidia are still fine tuning their driver performance and features to make everything work just like XP. However, all of this is just not an excuse for the lacking thermal management systems - that should have been the first thing nVidia made sure worked 100%.
Personally, I would have much rather saw nVidia focus their time on making their internal thermal management systems work properly before they concentrated on improving frame rates or making SLI work better, for instance. They may well be an underlying reason why thermal management isn't working under Vista but nVidia should have worked harder to make it work and should have (at very least) made a better effort to make it clear that this feature isn't working properly - you shouldn't need to dig through pages of release notes to find out about this as it just might be too late by the time you do that. It should be visibly clear.