Jul 262009

After installing a fresh version of Windows 7, I went to update the drivers and check device manager. None of my drivers downloaded from the manufacturer’s site would install, just the included utilities. ATI CCC would launch, but the main window wouldn’t display. After a bit of Googling, I found out Windows 7 was installing it’s own drivers. I went to device manager and expanded Display Adapters and sure enough, both (2 video cards installed) had Microsoft in parenthesis after them. I hit uninstall and removed them, scanned for new hardware changes, and as soon as I did, Windows reinstalled them. I tryed uninstalling them and using the ATI installer, right before it completed, Windows put its own back in. I checked in Process Explorer to see id I could end Windows driver installer, and sure enough, it kept launching as soon as a driver was uninstalled. I made a simple batch file that continually ended drvinst.exe and that fixed held back Windows long enough to get the right drivers installed.

The Process:

Computer Management > Device Manager
Launch no_driver.bat
Uninstall Windows Drivers
Scan for changes
Right click the device that shows up without drivers (with /!\ on it)
Browse my computer
Point to the location of your driver (You’ll need to extract the Windows 7 drivers to a folder. ATI will extract all the files to C:\ATI and then start the installer [exit the installer if CCC and utilities are already installed)
Exit out of no_driver.bat
Windows will install the “real” drivers
Restart and everything should be working well.

How to Tell if it’s a Windows Driver:

Windows drivers normally have something in parenthesis after the name of the device. To double check, open properties and go to the Driver tab. Now can tell if it’s Windows when the “Driver Provider” is “Microsoft”

Why you don’t want Windows Drivers:

The drivers, being Windows own, don’t work with manufacturer’s utilities. This prevents modifications, and most importantly, features like Crossfire. Even ATI Tray Tools needs ATI’s real drivers.

Why Windows Installs its own Drivers:

Windows installs these for novices users that don’t understand how to install them manually. In addition they are most likely trying to prevent users from complaining about their old hardware not being supported.

What if Windows can’t find drivers, and there are Vista drivers I want to use?

Make sure you have the driver extracted in a folder (the INF, sys and cat file and others would indicate the folder with the driver). Download a tool called DSEO. This tool puts Windows into test mode (which was designed to test driver signing) allowing you to use unsigned drivers (ATITool or ATI Tray Tools) and drivers for Vista. Launch the tool and select the first option “Enable Test Mode.” Hit next until you reach the menu again. When you reboot, the watermark in the bottom right will be back, you can disable this now. If you have a driver you need to sign, you can use that option (such as ATITool and ATI Tray Tools). Exit when finished and restart. You can now use Vista drivers (although you can’t right click and select install). You’ll have to install them through device manager, meaning you may have to use the above procedure to remove Windows own drivers.

no_driver.bat contains:

echo off
taskkill /im drvinst.exe /f
goto loop