Like choosing our lifetime partner or substituting a recipe ingredient that won’t ruin the meal, we should also think about the issue of compatibility when it comes to our computers and drivers. But it would be a futile exercise to discuss which drivers are compatible within an operating system like Linux or XP because there are literally hundreds of drivers that have been manufactured in the last decade. And the number of drivers keeps growing!

If we look at the issue of comptability more closely, there are certain elements that must be considered before taking a specific course of action. These elements are grouped into five major categories (as explained by a 2006 Microsoft white paper with a special focus on Vista):

• Installation – the acronym UAP stands for user access protection. It is this UAP feature that may generate kinks in the installation procedure especially for Windows Vista. One potential occurrence is that when installing a program, you may receive a message saying “installation failed” or “installation cannot be completed.”

• Loading – the driver may not load as smoothly as anticipated. For example, Microsoft says that the 64-bit version of Microsoft Vista does not load unsigned drivers.

• Run time – drivers may not run as they did in earlier versions like XP. The run time may create major problems or minor ones. An example of a major problem is, as the Microsoft white paper says, “drivers that extend or replace kernel services by hooking the system service tables cause a bug check in the 64-bit version of Windows Vista.”

• Functionality – the network driver interface specification (NDIS) 5.x drivers go through a layer which reduces their efficiency or functionality.

When Vista was developed by programmers, some changes had to be introduced. These changes were intended to enhance security features but they affected driver performance.

As you use your computer more frequently, chances are you may experience compatibility problems. This will happen if you download other programs or purchase devices that you add into your operating system. To get the latest on performance compatibility issues in Vista, for example, you have one recourse: go to maintenance.

There are also web sites that will allow you to update your old and obsolete drivers.