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Microsoft Windows Logo Program

To qualify for a Microsoft Windows logo, devices must meet certain requirements set out by Microsoft. For Windows Vista, these requirements were set out by the Microsoft Windows Logo Program 3.0 in a hefty 321-pages long document, covering everything from bus controllers and ports to storage devices.

But let's focus on the section on graphics cards. Let's see what Microsoft requires before any one of those two Windows Vista logo is awarded. Here's a quote from the section, with the most pertinent part in bold :

The basic requirements in this section focus [on] support for minimum capabilities for timing crates, gamma correction, and monitor detection, plus the driver‘s ability to correctly report supported capabilities. For the Windows Vista logo, the adapter or chipset must have a WDDM driver and support GPU, memory, bandwidth, and other requirements supporting Aero capabilities.

At a minimum, display devices must support DDC/CI standards for communications between a monitor and the communication bus, in addition to supporting timing standards and sleep states. For the Windows Vista Logo, LCD and plasma displays have additional requirements to contain display characterization data and ensure color quality. Displays and monitors must meet the applicable requirements in the "Device Fundamentals" section of this document.

Well, the first bold sentence above says it all. The graphics card must have a WDDM (Windows Device Driver Model) driver. Although it's not stated, it stands to reason that such a driver should actually work and not consist of random 1s and 0s. The Device Fundamentals section of the document back that up with requirements like :

  • Device driver must have a properly formatted INF for its device class
  • Device drivers must be able to be signed by Microsoft
  • Installing or uninstalling the driver does not reduce or eliminate functionality of other devices installed on the system
  • Device is functional without restarting the system
  • Drivers are architectured to maximize reliability and stability and do not "leak" resources such as memory

Perhaps Microsoft should add a new Device Fundamental requirement, just to be clear - Device must have properly working device drivers that can be installed without crashing or disabling the system.



The Microsoft Windows Logo Program 3.0 reads like a really solid program. Forcing hardware developers to meet those basic requirements will be a great step in getting Windows Vista drivers to work like they really should.

Forget about fancy features and gimmicks like overclocking tools or video overlay previews. Those can come later. We need a driver that works first and foremost. Without it, the graphics card would be useless... useful only as a paperweight, or a dumb VGA framebuffer at the very most.

But from what we can see, compliance with the program requirements appears to be poor. If ATI can ship the Radeon X1950 GT as Vista-certified without a working driver until recently, and even then it was not able to run without crashing Vista at boot-up. Is Microsoft intentionally closing one eye? Was proper certification ever part of the program?

We would like to think that Microsoft had good intentions in mind when they developed the program. Certainly, it did produce results in Windows XP. Perhaps when it came to Vista, they had no choice but to close one eye because they just didn't give manufacturers time to improve their drivers before launching Vista.

However, if that's true, then it's a truly regrettable decision. Without adequate compliance, the Windows Logo Program becomes nothing more than a marketing program. Eventually, it will backfire on all involved when users realize that these logos mean absolutely nothing at all.


Questions & Comments

Please feel free to post your questions or comments here!


Date Revision Revision History
08-04-2007 1.0

Initial release.

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