2 Tricks to Try When Existing Devices Don't Seem to Work on Vista

Executive Summary:

In a perfect world, the sun always shines and manufacturers always provide new software and drivers so that their devices work on the newest Windows OS. But alas the world is far from perfect. So, besides getting an umbrella, you might want to try two workarounds if your older devices aren't working on Windows Vista and the manufacturers of those devices haven't provided new software or drivers.

At my company, we recently started to roll out Windows Vista on some of our machines. As we expected, a lot of devices no longer work. Take, for example, our laptops that use USRobotics’ USR5420 USB wireless device instead of a built-in Wi-Fi chip. The driver doesn’t install on Vista unless we copy the installation CDROM to the C drive, then configure the installer to run as Windows XP SP2 using administrator privileges. When we do this, the installer completes and Vista is able to access Wi-Fi networks.

Unfortunately, this trick didn’t work with our HP Scanjet 7450c digital flatbed scanner. This scanner is connected to a Windows Server 2003 R2 server through a USB device, and we use HP’s Precision Scan Pro software to share this scanner over the network. On XP, we install the scanner’s driver and an HP utility called Scan to Network, which tells the scanner driver to use the network printer instead of a local one. On Vista, we were able to run the installer without changing the installation program’s compatibility mode, but when we started up the Precision Scan Pro software, we received numerous JavaScript errors, followed by a message saying that the scanner wasn’t available.

When we tried changing the compatibility mode of the scanning software to XP SP2 and running it under administrator privileges, we didn’t even receive JavaScript errors. We only got the message that the scanner wasn’t available. However, when I changed the settings of the scanning software back to the default settings (i.e., run as Vista, no administrator privileges), the scanner was available. I have since tested this trick on several other computers and in every case the scanner worked. Somehow, setting the scanning software to run as Windows XP SP2 under administrator privileges, then setting it back to the default settings fixed all the problems.

Maybe these two tricks will work with other devices that don’t initially work with Vista. Shame on HP and other manufacturers for not providing new software and drivers for “legacy” hardware.

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