Let's say that against your better judgement and the urging of your closest family members you do the unthinkable and actually purchase a retail computer from HP. Make absolutely sure that you take any driver CDs or files from hidden partitions and burn them onto 10 different CDs. Put one in a bank deposit box, send 5 of them to your closest friends, and bury the rest in your yard! Because if you ever lose them, you're going to pay!
I recently rebuilt my shiny HP MediaCenter. I was able to find drivers for most things but the sound card was a problem. It's an OEM Audigy 2 ZS card. So I did like any good nerd and went to HPs site to download the drivers. But they weren't there. I then went to the ultimate Internet authority Google only to find dozens and dozens of comments from other people like me in the same situation. The drivers are not available online. Feeling annoyed already I decided to attempt to bridge cultural borders and call HP's customer support. Here is how that call went...
Me: Hi, I'd like to get the drivers for my Media Center's sound card. Can you tell me where to download them?
HP: If you'd like to order a Recovery CD, I can forward you to our parts department.
Me: I don't need to recover my PC, I just want to install the drivers.
HP: It appears that your computer is out of warranty. If you'd like, a technician can help you install the drivers but there will be a fee.
Me: I don't need help installing them, I just need to know where they are.
HP: I'm sorry sir, you'll have to order a Recovery CD or pay for a technician to help you install them.
At this point the conversation devolved into something not appropriate for publication even in a blog. Angry but not stopped, I decided to go to my local retailer where I bought the PC and ask them if they have a copy, since they also do repair work. They said even they would have to order the drivers. So my last recourse, while a bit sneaky, was to take a USB key to the media center PCs they have on display and look for one with the Audigy sound card. But alas, the new PCs don't use the same sound card.
Why, after I've already purchased the hardware should I have to pay for the software to make it work? Software I already own a legal right to use? Why would any company intentionally hinder their customers use of their product by hiding away the drivers? Because they can.
The Dallas Visual Studio 2005 Launch Event is going to be held on November 30th at the Dallas Convention Center. With more than 3,800 attendees this will be the second largest launch event in the country. Attendees will get to see the latest in Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server technologies and might even be able to pick up some goodies as well. I'll be there in the "Ask The Experts" section, so if you have any questions feel free to drop by and introduce yourself!