I got a reminder of one of the reasons why I bought a Mac yesterday, thanks to the PC in the Parish Office. I got an e-mail on Monday from somebody who had tried to write a CD in the internal CD-Writer on the Office PC, and had got a peculiar error message. Having been at the Parish Centre on Monday evening, I tried the same thing, and got the same problem.
The first time you tried to copy a file to the CD Writer the task appeared to lock up, and then subsequent to that everything you tried to copy produced an error about the folder being in use.
I didn’t have a chance to sort it out then, but as the PC also needed Windows XP Service Pack 2 I thought I’d sort it out at the weekend. I’ve previously had problems with the built in CD Writing feature on XP Home, caused by another bit of software changing a relevant DLL. (Classic DLL Hell)
Anyway, yesterday I spent the evening doing the service pack upgrade, which went off flawlessly, and then moved on to the CD Writer problem.
The main oddity was that Windows was listing the drive as a normal CD Drive with no writing features, so I thought I’d locate a driver online. That proved to be impossible. Searching on Google for the drive, a Sony CRX230E only produced a number of other people looking for a driver. After some digging on the Sony site, I found a firmware upgrade, but not much else. Eventually I found several people who had raised up problems with Microsoft, and with Sony, and basically been told that it just “doesn’t work” with the built in CD-Writing software, but that some of the third party CD writing packages would work with it.
I’m not sure whether the problem is in Windows XP itself, or with something that Sony has done, but it does seem a fairly funadmental problem. (It is worth noting that this is a brand new PC as well – it was delivered with XP and the drive in question). It also reminds me why I got a Mac. I’ve had similar hardware problems with PC’s before, where some combination of product A, with product B, under operating system C, on machine D just doesn’t work, or only partially works, but on a slightly different machine works without problems. You also get the joy of making sure you install the relevant drivers in order to make the thing work.
I’ve not had the same problems with the Mac. The key reason being of course that Apple tightly controls the platform, so there is a much more limited selection of hardware and software combinations. In the PC market the machines are built from a selection of component, and the whole concept is that you can build a machine with whatever components you require. For example firms can build a machine with a basic sound card for an office machine, or a surround sound system for game use. This flexibility ultimately leads to the problems I encountered, nobody can possibly test all the combinations, so although Sony lists the drive as XP compatible, it just isn’t compatible with the particular combination.
With regards to the drive, Evesham, who supplied the machine, included a third-party CD Burning application, which I assume supports the drive. Having said that, I’m tempted to make use of our support agreement to get them to try and get it working from XP directly, since the machine was delivered with XP and the two drives I would have expected that I should be able to use the built in CD burning functionality, or for it to be disabled, certainly it shouldn’t lock up the machine.