After many many years, I just had to install Windows on a (thankfully) new machine. (Updating Windows on a working machine is a pleasure to only those who also like to shove spikes through their own cheeks.)
This is on a Toshiba C850, which comes without any OS, and you have to buy your OS separately. Of course, there are no driver disks nor any clue which drivers this particular machine will actually need. Just a piece of paper pointing you to a generic Toshiba driver website. Compared to HP, this is an improvement, which doesn’t even name their drivers, they number them.
So after figuring out which machine you’ve bought, and getting a list of all drivers for that specific model number, you, the user, now have to figure out which motherboard your kind manufacturer has actually shipped to you.
You see, it’s cheaper to label every tacky plastic case exactly the same way, instead of having a meaningful name. Yes, the reason why Windows PCs are cheaper than Macs is exactly this – the label costs more than the machine! Instead of calling an AMD based model C850A, and an Intel version C850I, they have to call them both C850 to save money. Not following me?
Turns out, your friendly neighbourhood laptop maker, might have shovelled in an Intel or AMD board in that plastic case.
On that board, they might have Realtek or Atheros networking chips. If you’re lucky, the ethernet chip and the wifi chip might be from the same manufacturer, but don’t hold your breath.
By the way, that means your brand new machine needs network drivers to make a network connection to download the network drivers which you don’t have to drive the network connection which you need to download the drivers. Okay, I’ll stop at that, or we’ll be here all week.
Get it? You see, every Windows user is expected to own a working machine on which they can research the Internet to determine which drivers they need for their new machine. Luckily I’m doing this right next to an iMac, which just works.
Several hours later, here I am, with a mostly working Windows installation. Sound works, kind of. The touch pad works. The network came up relatively quickly since Toshiba kindly prints some diagnostics and I saw Realtek scroll by at high speed. So the Atheros drivers can be deleted. Yay. That gives me back 102Mb of disk space!
Bluetooth works, since I took a chance and assumed that Toshiba machines would use Toshiba BT chips.
But I still have some 4-5 yellow items in Device Manager, which means that there are still some devices lurking about who are driverless.
All in all, I spent more time installing drivers on this one new machine than I have spent updating my operating systems on all my 10 Macs in the last 7 years.
Tiger to Leopard to Snow Leopard to Lion to Mountain Lion to Mavericks. Not one file lost and not one device failing to work.
The “Apple tax” is paid in money. The “Microsoft tax” is paid out in hours of your life. Guess which one I can always get more of?