First let me say that I really like Microsoft Hardware.  I find their hardware innovative, well designed and easy to use.

The purpose of this blog entry is to express some frustration over the fact that some pieces of Microsoft hardware do not work with some of their operating systems.

Particularily annoying for me has been my experience with the Microsoft Finger Print reader.

Earlier this year I had to purchase a new mouse, so I figured, hey, why not spend a few extra bucks and get the one with the finger print reader.  After all, I’d really like the ability to secure the server computer I want to plug this into with an additional level of security — password plus fingerprint scan.

So, I go to install the software:  The mouse driver works with no problem, but when I go to install the fingerprint reader software, I get a nasty message about the OS not being supported. 

You’d think: Hey, it’s Microsoft, they must support their own platforms! — Ya, not so much.

Do some digging — turns out Microsoft doesn’t even make this software, they licensed a cheap OEM version from some 3rd party company.   The version that ships with the product will ONLY work with Windows XP Home or Windows XP Professional (32-bit versions only by the way).  And since they’ve OEM’d it, there will NEVER be a service pack for it, it will NEVER be upgraded — basically: you’re on your own if you buy any fingerprint reader from Microsoft because they don’t actually control how the device works or what it can do.

So you’re thinking: "but I’d really like to protect my server operating systems with fingerprint recognition plus a password — that would be way more secure then just a password right?"  Well, not according to Microsoft — Windows Server Products are NOT supported.  Do more reading, apparently people think that these devices are easy to fool — the gummy bear example comes up a lot in these discussions.  But I don’t want to "only" scan the finger print — I want two factor authentication: one biometric + one password!  ARG.

Also, even if you happen to not be using an OS, it seems that computers that are joined to a domain are NOT supported.  OK fine, so I decide the next machine I get, I’ll just run as a stand-alone computer, NOT authenticated to a domain…

So, I buy a nice new AMD Dual Core 64-bit machine and install Windows XP 64-bit edition on it.  Surely that will work – XP 64-bit has been shipping for well over a year, the drivers must be available — after all this is Microsoft’s hardware, Microsoft’s operating system…

Nope — 64-bit Operating Systems are NOT supported.


So, I go to use my cheap web cam with the 64-bit OS — not supported.  So hey, Microsoft’s shipping web cams now … maybe they’ll run on 64-bit OS.  So I check out the site — hey, they have a great product: LifeCam NX-6000 high-def video recorder — surely a product that needs that much bandwidth and graphics power must be designed to work with a 64-bit OS that will give much better access to memory and will perform better. 

Check out the spects online:… — Operating systems supported: "Windows® XP Pro/Home/Media Center Edition/Tablet PC Edition" — no mention of Windows XP x64, or of Windows 2003 Server x64" — I’m going to assume that means it’s not supported.

So I thought to myself, maybe I can infer if x64 is supported or not by trying to download device drivers for this product.  Go to the download page — there are no drivers listed (at all) for the NX products!  (arg)

I don’t get it.  If you’re going to make hardware that pushes the limits, don’t you think you’d want to support the operating system that your own company makes, that’s designed for power users?