The vast majority of people upgrading will not have any issues, but there is always that stray use-case scenario that will encounter an error. In the past, Microsoft has done a great job with compatibility, and even shown that they are willing to make their OS backwards-compatible with older hardware and as much of the software as possible.
With that said, one of the biggest issues that can bite end-users is driver problems. A printer here or audio card there can wreak havoc with what you assume will be a simple upgrade.
A free app called DriverScanner can fix all of that, and they have now released their brand new 2013 version which is capable of conducting a Windows 8-friendly scan of your PC and identifying driver issues and updates.
Microsoft made Windows 8 available as a beta late last year with the first Developer Preview, but they have now officially released the new operating system to the general public, which they did back on October 26th after a big launch event in New York City.
That event was preceded, thanks to the International Time Line, by an earlier one in Sydney, Australia where the product actually first went on sale (or perhaps that was in New Zealand? Well, either way…).
To get going with this, you will need to start off by visiting UniBlue and downloading the app. It’s free and and it is only a measly 5.24 MB, so it is quick to download. The installation is also pretty fast and, most importantly, doesn’t contain any nasty stuff like browser toolbars or the McAfee virus scanner which Adobe Flash now tries to push off on users.
DriverScanner 2013 has four simple tabs across the top of the window – “Overview”, “Driver Scan”, “Manage” and, finally, “Settings”. You can simply start a scan from the “Overview” tab. It seems to run pretty quickly and you can even minimize the app while you perform other tasks as it runs in the background. Once completed, you will be presented with a list of any driver updates that are available for your system. You can choose to install them in one fell swoop or one at a time. I will mention more about that later.
The Driver Scan tab provides a quick overview of past scans, the results and access to update drivers. This will likely be your starting point when you fire up this app.
The Manage setting allows you to ignore certain driver updates, in case there is a known problem or compatibility issue, as well as do a roll back (kind of like a Windows System Restore) if you encounter a problem. I didn’t get to test this feature (thankfully), so I can’t vouch for how well it does or doesn’t work.
The Settings page contains a number of options, perhaps the most in the app. Users can choose to minimize the app when running, choose to start it upon Windows startup, set a download location, set proxy settings, and even display system information to give you stats about RAM, processor, the operating system and more. All handy information for any savvy computer user.
It’s free to download and use. It’s also a small file size and uses very little system resources, even when running in the background. In addition, it does a great job of identifying problems and finding the correct drivers and downloading them to your system, either one at a time or as a batch. Finally, the app is simple to use for even a casual computer user – no geek-cred necessary here.
Here is where I have issues with this piece of software. While it’s free to download and use, they want to charge the user for a paid version in order to actually download drivers. That could be considered a deal-breaker but, on the other hand, you can always use it to find driver problems and then navigate to the manufacturer’s web site and grab the driver download yourself without any charge, which, for security reasons, may be the safer method anyway.
First, I should point out that there is a lot more to this app than just the basic scan and install features. The menu is simple, but it does provide some nice flexibility, like being able to see past history, setting proxies, the ability to revert back to previous driver versions, set the number of simultaneous driver downloads possible at one time and a lot more.
Second, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that installing multiple drivers at one time could prove to be a VERY bad idea. Drivers cause system problems and even crashes, so it’s best to install one and run your PC for a day or so to ensure there are no issues before moving on to the next installation. For those not afraid to get into the inner workings of their computer and operating system, and especially for those who are experiencing problems with the big move up to Windows 8, then this may be just the ticket.
DriverScanner 2013 is free, carries no ads and no “bonus” add-ons for your system or browser. It’s also simple to use for even a casual Windows customer. It’s up to you to decide if the convenience of installing a driver from it is worth the trade-off of a bit of your hard-earned cash. Or, if you want to simply use it for your scans and then have the small hassle of visiting the sites in your browser to nab the drivers.