Microsoft Windows has been a work in progress for nearly three decades and the WDM driver is one of many ideas that the Microsoft team developed during the ’s. The Windows driver model was developed to enable programmers and developers to create forward compatible drivers that would work with little or no modification on future editions of the Windows operation system.
WDM allows developers to write one driver for multiple platforms by using the latest version of the Windows DDK framework. This innovation reduced the amount of time a developer needed to spend on coding and testing a driver. WDM was first used in Windows 98 and is still currently in use. Criticisms toward WDM caused Microsoft to develop a successor to WDM called KMDF that is supported by Microsoft Vista and Windows 7.
WDM drivers were very useful for creating higher quality sound and videos drivers as well as faster input and output drivers. WDM was even useful in developing kernel level drivers for early USB integration and simplified the installation of network devices for all computer users. Once the initial confusion was handled, WDM drivers allowed developers to create kernel level code easier than ever before however there were some problems according to many developers.
Common WDM Drivers Problems
WDM drivers were a great improvement upon previous driver development strategies. Problems can and do occur when code updates and patches for various hardware and software are released. Some of the common problems with WDM drivers include:
1. WDM was initially hard to learn for programmers at the time Microsoft released the framework due to its different way of handling code. I/O cancellation requests were difficult to complete within the WDM framework.
2. WDM required a great deal more coding effort than previous methods of driver production. Developers generally needed more support staff to help create drivers for the WDM framework.
3. WDM drivers operate at the kernel level and when a malfunction occurs the result is usually a blue screen with little or no information the end user can interpret or diagnose unless they have experience with WDM coding. WDM is not user friendly to either the developer or the user.
4. WDM has problems interacting well with the power management features contained within windows causing many machines difficulty in going into sleep mode or waking up upon request. Plug and play issues resulting in the infamous blue screen of death are frequent on systems that have aged.
Troubleshooting WDM Drivers
If you are an end-user and you develop a WDM driver issue your probably never going to be aware of it beyond the fact that one part or another of your computer just stops working. The best advice for the average computer user is to reinstall the software for the device that quit on you. If this does not work, your next step will be to either call a service technician or reinstall your operating system from scratch.
If you are a developer and are having trouble with your WDM driver development Microsoft has plenty of developer assistance on their various websites and thousands of support forums on the web where you can find help. A good place to start is the book by Walter Oney entitled ‘Programming the Windows Driver Model’.
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