A couple of days ago I wrote about some headaches upgrading to Windows XP SP3. This was related to my ability to rotate my screen being scuttled by the SP3 update. Microsoft said I needed a driver update to restore this functionality but Dell did not seem to provide one, so I tried to get some publicly available drivers from the ATI website which didn’t work for me, because they didn’t contain any definitions for the Mobility Radeon series, only the desktop versions. This meant that although my monitor rotation worked, I couldn’t get my LCD to display at the native 1400×1050 resolution that it usually displays at, which was a deal breaker and I had to revert to SP2 and install the Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit to stop it from automatically upgrading again.
A couple of comments later, people pointed out that the problem is really Dell’s rather than Microsoft’s because Dell hadn’t bothered to release a driver update in years despite ATI continually updating their reference drivers. What’s worse, Dell has a deal with ATI where Dell users can’t download drivers directly from the ATI website. So users are supposedly stuck with the broken old Dell drivers that Dell couldn’t be bothered to update.
I did some researching on the Dell forums and found two entries that gave me the correct information so that I could find drivers that worked with SP3, even though they were unsupported by Dell. There is a “hidden” link on the ATI website that allows you to download the drivers for Mobility Radeon series bypassing the compatibility check that usually stops Dell users from accessing the drivers:
After I got the drivers from this site, everything worked like a charm and I was able to use my video card rotation function correctly with SP3. One small gotcha regarding the latest ATI drivers is that you must have the Microsoft .NET Framework Version 2.0 installed in order to use them.
All of this would have been a lot simpler if Dell just kept their drivers up to date! I have a Dell Latitude D610, which is widely deployed at enterprises worldwide. It’s surprising that their enterprise customers haven’t made a bigger fuss about this.