Creative Technology Threatens SoundBlaster Driver Developer

Creative Labs: The Lack of Functionality Under Windows Vista Is Business Decision

by Anton Shilov
03/31/2008 | 10:19 PM

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.