Sunday, April 6, 2008

Creative Labs Quietly Preps SoundBlaster X-Fi 2 as Customers Frenzy over Lack of Fully-Functional Windows Vista Drivers

As many consumers are furious about the lack of fully-functional SoundBlaster X-Fi drivers for Windows Vista from Creative Technology, the company is quietly preparing to roll-out its new SoundBlaster X-Fi 2, a new-generation audio solution for personal computers. Perhaps, the novelty will satisfy their needs?

There are no details about Creative Labs SoundBlaster X-Fi 2 available at the moment. The mention of the second-generation X-Fi audio card was noticed by some sharp eyes in the Windows Vista Hardware Compatibility List that does not list any details about unreleased hardware. However, the fact that on the 11th of March, 2008, Creative Technology received “Designed for Windows Vista” and “Vista Premium” logos for its SB X-Fi 2 may be an early indicator that the new sound-card is coming to the market.

Feature-set of Creative Labs SoundBlaster X-Fi 2 is unclear, though, it is more than likely that it will be more advanced compared to the original X-Fi. Still, the novelty should not be considered as something revolutionary: the company is known for unveiling “second edition” versions of certain products with serious, but not radical changes, e.g., the main difference between the original Audigy and Audigy 2 was slightly improved audio processing as well as better codecs.

Creative Technology has been under fire for many months due to the lack of drivers for Windows Vista that expose complete feature-set of SoundBlaster X-Fi cards.

The news about soon-to-be-announced SoundBlaster X-Fi 2 audio card can potentially further infuriate Creative Labs' anger customer after the company issued an open letter to a person who provided unofficial driver packages for Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi audio cards that enabled all the hardware capabilities of the sound processor. The world’s leading supplier of discrete audio cards for personal computers asked to cease development of unofficial drives and implied that this person or persons may run into legal action for. Creative Technology also stated that the lack of certain X-Fi capabilities in Windows Vista amid their availability in Windows XP was a business decision.

“We do have a problem when technology and IP owned by Creative or other companies that Creative has licensed from, are made to run on other products for which they are not intended.

We own the rights to the materials that you are distributing. By enabling our technology and IP to run on sound cards for which it was not originally offered or intended, you are in effect, stealing our goods. […] If we choose to develop and provide host-based processing features with certain sound cards and not others, that is a business decision that only we have the right to make,” said Phil O’Shaughnessy, vice president of corporate communications at Creative Technology.

Creative Technology did not comment on the news-story.

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