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Creative Technology, the world’s leading supplier of discrete audio cards for personal computers, has been under fire for many months due to the lack of drivers for Windows Vista that expose feature-set of SoundBlaster cards. But as drivers developed by a private person with full feature-set emerged, Creative asked to cease their development, claiming that reduced amount of features was a business decision.

Creative Technology late last week issued an open letter to a person who provided unofficial driver packages for Creative SoundBlaster audio cards, implying that this person may run into legal action with Creative.

“We are aware that you have been assisting owners of our Creative sound cards for some time now, by providing unofficial driver packages for Vista that deliver more of the original functionality that was found in the equivalent XP packages for those sound cards.  In principle we don’t have a problem with you helping users in this way, so long as they understand that any driver packages you supply are not supported by Creative,” said Phil O’Shaughnessy, vice president of corporate communications at Creative Technology.

The reasons for the legal actions are simple: drivers developed by person or persons under nickname Daniel_K provide functionality that Creative itself decided not to provide due to business reasons, but which are technically possible.

“Where we do have a problem is when technology and IP owned by Creative or other companies that Creative has licensed from, are made to run on other products for which they are not intended. […] We own the rights to the materials that you are distributing.  By enabling our technology and IP to run on sound cards for which it was not originally offered or intended, you are in effect, stealing our goods. When you solicit donations for providing packages like this, you are profiting from something that you do not own. If we choose to develop and provide host-based processing features with certain sound cards and not others, that is a business decision that only we have the right to make,” said Mr. O’Shaughnessy.

Even though the company did not directly state that it plans to sue Daniel_K, it strongly recommended him to stop creating its drivers.

“We are asking you to respect our legal rights in this matter and cease all further unauthorized distribution of our technology and IP.  In addition we request that you observe our forum rules and respect our right to enforce those rules,” the statement reads.

End-users criticized Creative Technology for trying to cease development of third-party drivers, bringing to attention the fact that the company itself could not provide the same functionality under Windows Vista compared to the feature-set it provided with Windows XP.

Discussion

Comments currently: 28
Discussion started: 04/01/08 03:40:59 AM
Latest comment: 06/17/08 04:46:28 AM

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1. 
It should be noted that:

http://forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board/message?board.id=Vista&thread.i d=30737&view=by_date_ascending&page=6
"I checked with management, and it was decided we would bring back the Audigy Support Pack thread and allow you to continue in that endeavor. As long as no intellectual property of Creative is distributed, we will have no problem with it. I will get the thread reposted shortly."

Though, clearly this is WAY too late.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 04/01/08 03:40:59 AM]
Reply

2. 
Creative must have it hard with onboard and stuff like Asus' cards.

And WTH? The card supports the original functionality, yet Creativre refuses to support it? Oh, do they plan to sell us a second time what we hve already bought, with some sort of X-Fi 2 or something?

Hmm... Ok, guess it was the right decision to get a Xonar then. No reason throwing away money for this kind of support.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 04/01/08 05:13:58 AM]
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3. 
There is no IP involved here. They have disabled functionality for Audigy cards in Windows XP x64 and Vista on purpose to force people to upgrade to X-Fi even though X-Fi itself has shady support for Vista and a lot of unresolved driver issues.
Has an X-Fi been a better supported product they wouldn't have to force anyone into buying it in the first place.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 04/01/08 05:37:12 AM]
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4. 
A rather sticky problem for Creative in this fiasco is that the cards which the drivers 'fix' were sold in packaging that touted the cards' ability to work with Vista. Now Creative is implying that they don't 'want' the cards to wok with Vista? Isn't that bait-and-switch? And isn't that actionable in a court of law?
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 04/01/08 08:24:36 AM]
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