Newer Always = Better? Nope

Technophiles beware! Newer is not always better.

The sign industry seems to have gotten over the initial transition from XP to Vista compatible software and plug-ins. FlexiSign 8.5, LXi 8.5, SignLab 8, and Roland and Graphtec’s plug-ins (CutStudio and Cutting Master2, respectively) have all been updated for Vista compatibility.

“So it’s okay to run down to CompuMart and buy a brand new, cutting edge triple xenon dual overhead cam PC to use it in my sign shop, right?”

Not quite. Just when you thought it was safe to buy a Vista system, Microsoft has begun shipping a 64-bit version of the Vista OS. I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but there’s a glitch lurking in the shiny new Microsoft offering. Actually the problem isn’t in the OS, but rather in the drivers.

In order to use your PC to create and produce digital signs and graphics, your computer’s operating system and installed software have to communicate with your chosen output devices; plotters and printers in plain English. Here’s the glitch: Plotter and printer drivers developed for 16 and 32 bit operating systems simply won’t work in the 64 bit OS. This causes conflicts and tech support issues that are currently unsolvable (that’s a scary word).

Roland and Graphtec plotter drivers, as well as Sawgrass printer drivers, will not work with Vista 64. And there are no plans to write 64-bit plotter drivers in the near future. But there’s never been any need for 64-bit plotter drivers. Writing a 64 bit plotter driver is kind of like building a 10,000 square foot mansion to house your new golf bag. Sure it’s nice, but not really necessary.

What do you lose by having to settle for a 32bit OS? Not much, really. As long as you have a good dual core processer and enough RAM and hard drive space, you have more then enough computing power to run sign industry apps. You may not be able to create large format 3D renderings or play Crysis, but otherwise you’ll feel no pain. Before you upgrade your hardware, make sure you read the details. Don’t assume that more is better.