Иконописиконииконисондажиобзавеждане за спалниAfter a quick, painless upgrade of my 64 bit Sony Viao to the Windows 7 RTM, my wife decided to take the plunge with her Alienware MX-15. She’s had Vista on it since we got the machine last December and other than the OS she’s been very happy with it.
The Sony Viao upgrade was a snap. I upgraded from 64 bit Vista Home Premium to 64 bit Windows 7 Home Premium. After the reboot everything worked, and faster than before. It was awesome.
Well, apparently Windows 7 isn’t very happy with Alienware, or the maybe the other way around. The Alienware machine had Vista Home Premium 32 bit so I upgraded to Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit. I rebooted to a variety of errors. Most immediate was the fact that after the desktop came up I got a message that “Your TouchPad has been disabled because the Synaptics TouchPad driver has detected another pointing device plugged into your computer.” My wife doesn’t use an external mouse so I had Windows with no mouse. Hard to use. I stole a mouse from another machine and plugged it in but Windows 7 didn’t recognize it. Uh oh. Fortunately after a reboot it picked up the mouse. After trying a number of things I finally uninstalled the Synaptics Pointing Device driver (she was running v10.1.8 06Dec07) with the intention of reinstalling it. I rebooted (again) and the TouchPad worked, presto. Apparently Windows 7, left to its own devices, was able to work directly with the TouchPad.
The next scariest problem was the fact that CA Anti-Virus wouldn’t allow me to turn on real time monitoring. It kept complaining that I didn’t have permission and then it wanted to reboot. A few reboot cycles later and persistent clicking on the Enable button got it working.
This was getting annoying and had already taken twice as long as the Viao to upgrade. The next annoying problem was an “OSD Utility” which kept dying on startup. Windows 7 came up with the “fix or close” dialog and I just closed it. I turned it over to my wife for her to play around some and see if everything else seemed to be working.
It wasn’t. A few minutes later her machine froze, requiring a reboot. We determined that the AlienFusionController.exe had a memory leak, a suspicion discussed on this forum: http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=326911&page=3. Wish I’d have checked that before! So we called Alienware. After a short time on hold we got a customer service rep who apparently just answered the phones, because a short time later we got another one who asked the same startup questions (account number, model number, etc.) She basically told us to drop dead. She was convinced we were running the Windows 7 Beta even though I told her repeatedly that we were using the RTM. She just kept giving us the same line that they only support the OS which was originally installed on the machine. I can understand that, but they couldn’t give us anything? An empty claim that it would be fixed on the Windows 7 release date? An expectation that this might be fixed someday? Nothing. I told her they might want to look into it since in a couple of months there are going to be a lot of pissed off Alienware users, then we gave up on “support.”
The support person’s complete indifference left my wife steaming and we started talking options. I went into msconfig and turned off Alienware Fusion but it kept restarting. Then we realized that it must be a Windows Service and yep, sure enough it was and set to automatic start. I stopped the service and set it to Manual, which stopped the leaking EXE from coming up. Unfortunately, that stopped all the cool Alienware stuff from working including FX and the facial recognition.
My wife decided to live with it for a bit and see what else happened. She tried to run a game called Seven Wonders II and it reported that she didn’t have a compatible video device. Uh oh again! I checked her system info and it was reporting a generic VGA driver. I went to www.nvidia.com and installed a Windows 7 driver. Presto! The game worked. But that wasn’t all. Suddenly Alienware FX worked again and so did the facial recognition! Wow. Apparently Alienware really is all about the graphics. No graphics and half your machine stops working.
She’s happy now. Everything’s working and she is noticing better performance under Windows 7 than Vista. Hooray for NVidia for having Windows 7 drivers already. But let this be a warning to Alienware laptop users: support isn’t going to help you, and you’re going to have to mess with services, startup and/or device drivers to get your machine back up and running. Probably not a big deal for Alienware owners, but you should know what you’re getting yourself into.
I’d also like to add my voice to the torrent of unhappy Alienware support users. They were completely useless. I know they’re not responsible for an OS I add to the box but their attitude was the biggest problem. Years ago I had to call Dell support after royally hosing my machine by installing a driver for an external CD burner. They didn’t tell me it wasn’t their problem, they talked me through what I needed to do to fix it. I wasn’t necessarily expecting that from Alienware (which is now owned by Dell, of course) but something more than a big “F you” would have been nice.
Oh, and for OSD Utility we finally just removed it from startup using msconfig. It seemed to be the appendix of the machine.