Forecasts of the evolution of PC shipments estimate that approximately 380 million units will be sold by the end of 2010, some 70 million more compared to 2009. The vast majority of these units will ship with Microsoft’s Windows operating system, which prompted the not so unrealistic prediction that Windows 7 would hit the 300 million sold licenses mark by the end of the year. And yet, although more than 1 million PCs are being sold each day, the perspective that the post-PC era is nigh emerged earlier this month.

“The transformation of PC to new form factors like the tablet is going to make some people uneasy because the PC has taken us a long way,” noted Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the D8 conference, comparing PCs with trucks for an agrarian world. “The PC is brilliant […] and we like to talk about the post-PC era, but it’s uncomfortable.” More »

A computer on which Windows 7 has been deployed via a clean install can stop responding completely after the second restart. This issue also affects Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft informed, and is related to the 1394 bus driver.

According to the Redmond company, machines running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 can also stop responding when customers enable or install a 1394 device. The IEEE 1394 is a serial bus interface standard most known by the following brands FireWire (Apple), i.LINK (Sony), and Lynx (Texas Instruments).

Microsoft even offered an example of the hardware configuration on which users have been experiencing this problem. The software giant notes that the issue affects PCs with nVidia MCP7A-GeForce 9300 rev B1 motherboard that also feature an LSI Logic FW533 or an FW643 1394 Host controller. Disabling and then enabling, as well as uninstalling and then installing the 1394 host controller will render the machine unresponsive, as will restarting the computer, or putting it to sleep and then waking it.

“This issue occurs because the 1394 bus driver in Windows 7 does not issue an Open Host Controller Interface (OHCI) Soft Reset command to the 1394 host controller when the computer enters a low power (D3) state. When the 1394 host controller later enters a high power (D0) state, it may generate an incorrect PCI-Express packet. In this situation, the motherboard chipset stops responding,” Microsoft explained.

Ahead of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, the 1394 bus driver in Windows platforms generated an Open Host Controller Interface (OHCI) Soft Reset command to the 1394 host controller concomitantly with the moment when the PC was entering a low power state. Microsoft doesn’t offer users an update to fix the issue.

However, the company does have a hotfix available for download via Microsoft Support. “If the 1394 host controller is an add-on card, remove the card from the system before you install Windows 7. After setup is complete, apply this hotfix, and then re-enable the 1394 host controller,” the company advised affected users.

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Customers that have upgraded their Windows Vista Service Pack 1 computers to Service Pack 2 only to subsequently be plagued by frequent crashes can access a solution from Microsoft. The Redmond company notes that it is well aware of the issue. According to the software giant, some customers that made the jump from Vista SP1 to Vista SP2 have experienced repetitive crashes and have also come across the following stop error message “Stop 0x000000FE BUGCODE_USB_DRIVER”. Microsoft also mentions that the same problems affect customers that upgraded from Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2008 SP2.

“After you upgrade from Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) to Windows Vista SP2 or from Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2008 SP2, your computer crashes frequently and you receive the following stop error message: Stop 0x000000FE (parameter1, parameter2, parameter3, parameter4) BUGCODE_USB_DRIVER,” the company stated.

While an update is not available from Microsoft, nor likely, except with the release of Vista SP3, a hotfix can be grabbed from Microsoft Support. The software giant notes that the hotfix is the same as a resolve designed to take care of another problem impacting Vista and Windows Server 2008. However, in the specific case of Vista SP1 to SP2 upgrades, the issue “usually occurs on computers that have NVIDIA chipsets. More »

Whenever you play computer games that utilizes 3D graphics, a decent frame rate of about 25-30 frames per second is a prerequisite to make the games run smoothly and be at all enjoyable. If you play on a desktop PC, you always have the option to put in a more powerful graphics card, but that’s not an option with laptop computers. Another problem with laptops – but one that can be avoided – is the lack of updated graphics card drivers. Using updated drivers can provide better performance in new games thanks to game-specific fixes and improvements.

The Problem with OEM Drivers

Although both of the leading graphics card manufacturers (ATI/AMD and Nvidia) provide generic driver updates regularly that are designed to work with all of the respective manufacturer’s chips – even the laptop versions – most OEMs (laptop manufacturers) do not allow these to be installed on your laptop, since they prefer to use proprietary solutions for all their driver updates. As a result, you may be forced to use drivers that are as old as your laptop if the OEM doesn’t update their drivers on a regular basis, which is unfortunately often the case. More »