September 24, 2008
Two weeks ago I ordered three Lenovo T500 series laptops for work and man, these things are nice. The only problem: Vista preinstalled! So I proceeded to downgrade to Windows XP on these beasts. Should 'downgrade' even be used in that context? Oh well, more on that later!
Everything went smoothly. I installed XP using the installation CD (after removing the preloaded service partitions) and it was screaming. I always set up the hardware drivers first, and that's where things got a little messy. Apparently, these T500's come with 2 video cards built in. Mine, unfortunately, did not. It came with the Intel X4500HD video card (I should have known considering the price was so cheap on this particular model as compared to the others) and Lenovo never released an Intel video driver for the T500 for Windows XP, at least not yet. In fact, the only drivers that I could find were for the Radeon HD3650 card! The frustration was beginning to mount escpecially considering I needed to get this new laptops out to the field for use! Without the proper video drivers a user was limited to just using the laptop screen. Presentation Director doesn't work, so putting the laptop in a mini-dock with an external monitor was pointless becease it won't work!
So I called Lenovo's support line and after waiting for 10 minutes or so I was told that there weren't any drivers for a T500 with an Intel video card and Windows XP because the model shipped with Vista. I asked how soon would they be available and the rep told me that it was unclear. Really? Unclear? You have no idea when you're going to release device drivers for a well used operating system that Microsoft still supports and still licenses via its downgrade policy? At this point I'm ready to send these devices back and order something else, even if it means spending more money. But Billy came to the rescue with an idea.
Billy suggested that I look at the W500 model Lenovos because they use the same video cards. I looked but still didn't find anything except for the Switchable Graphics Driver for Vista (which, incidently is listed when choosing XP as the operating system) so that was no good. But that logic got me to thinking: what about the T400 series? So I went looking and low-and-behold what did I find?!?! The Intel Display Driver for the X4500HD video card on Windows XP!!! Oh happy days!!! Downloaded the drivers, installed them, and now everything works as expected (and quite well I might add!). These T500 Series laptops rock, plain and simple, at least when you get all the drivers installed. LOL
So now I'm left with a question: why didn't Lenovo list this driver on their T500 driver download page? It sure would have saved me a headache!! Are they pushing Vista that hard or are they more concerned with their higher end T500 and W500 series machines? Either way, the way I see it, if you put a product that's less than two months old from manufacturing date, you should support it.
But that's just how I see it. I could be wrong.