Every time you talk about Windows 7 (and you know my opinion on it, it's Vista a bit polished), you hear the fanbois cry up that it detected everything for them and they didn't have to install a single driver (except perhaps graphics drivers, but that's the same everywhere). Well, my first experience was on brand new hardware and it definitely didn't. My brothers new PC, and getting the -older- Wifi card to work was like going to Hell and back. I probably journalled about. Why, yes, I did, but I failed to document the process of the wireless PCI card installation.
Anyway, second Windows 7 experience was on my (brand new) Dell L502x. As I didn't want to use the OEM installation but start with a fresh install, I did a fresh install with the provided (okay, bought as an option) Windows 7 installation CD. That one was harsh, pretty much nothing was detected on it and I got presented with a grocery list of drivers to install.
You'd think that old hardware would be fine, right? For kicks 'n giggles, I took out my old AMD Athlon MP 2400+. That's hardware from 2003. I wanted to do something specific with it and I did, but since it was in the apartment now and I had two 1TB SATA disks lying around and a PCI SATA/Raid controller (obviously not from 2003. The Tyan Tiger MPX S2466 doesn't have SATA), I decided to have some fun and setup a striped 2TB volume and install Windows 7 Ultimate (trial). One good thing about Windows 7, and it's about the only one, is that it's very easy to get the installation media and if you don't enter a key, you get the 30-day trial version. I'd rather have Microsoft provide the ISO and MD5 checksums, but I could get what I needed here. (Also an interesting read, not to extend the trial period, that thing about the ei.cfg)
Now, obviously, I didn't expect the PCI SATA/Raid controller to be detected. Well, at least not in RAID mode. That's fine, given Windows 7 now allows loading of extra drivers from USB and I had them lying around on my fileserver.
So, the thing installs and.... Okay, graphics are standard VGA. Fine, fine, you don't detect a years old NVidia Geforce4. That's okay. I get it, graphics drivers are exempt of the "should be detected" part. However, can you guess which device wasn't found. A device that's pretty important and, believe me, something which is considered bog-standard hardware. No? It didn't find the integrated 100Mbps 3Com 3C905. Can it get any more standard? Really? Microsoft? 3Com, the most common NIC of all times (at least from back then). I simply cannot understand that omission. The XP driver doesn't want to install (no surprise there) and Tyan obviously isn't going to provide drivers for Vista/7 for eight and a half year old hardware. I have no idea where to get drivers. Perhaps at 3Com (Probably not)
Windows 7 may be fantastic (but I doubt it, given my experience), but this is really sad, sad, sad, sad.... Microsoft, disappointing you since 1975....
Anyway, this pretty much stops my experiments dead in the water.
With the help of a USB Wireless key, I managed to get on my network. Just because I'm an optimist, I decided to let the Windows driver manager check online for drivers for the 3Com 3C905C-TX NIC. You know what? It fucking finds them at once! Can you understand that? These drivers are unavailable for free download, but Microsoft has them and isn't assed to include them in the default install. Again: one of the most common NIC chipsets in the World! I need to install a network to install my network. Pure insanity.
I also tried finding graphics drivers for the graphics card. Okay, it is a very low end card (but it's passively cooled, that's why I never threw it away): an NVidia GeForce4 MX 4000 with 64MByte RAM. NVidia doesn't provide Windows 7 drivers for it, and it gets detected as Standard VGA. I'll try the "look online" trick again, but frankly... Compiz does run fine on this card.
Vista/7 made so much hardware obsolete, you could consider it an ecological disaster.