If you have been experiencing Microsoft Vista problems – such as the infamous “nvlddmkm has stopped working” issue – you may need the Vista 940105 patch. While there’s been an outpouring of more than the usual amount of angst regarding Windows Vista problems lately, due to the incompatability of some Vista drivers, this isn’t a Vista vs XP issue, and in fact some problems with Vista are not Vista’s fault. In this particular case, applying the Vista 940105 patch should fix your problems.
Now, problems with Vista are only to be expected. This isn’t us pointing the finger at the Windows Vista problems and making faces. As with any system, reliability often follows the bathtub curve; testing can’t be exhaustive, and while it can show that bugs are present, it can never prove their absence (source: Edsger Dijkstra.) Could a better job have been done? Absolutely and without question, yes. Would it have been perfect? Absolutely and without question, no.
So what’s the problem? It’s all to do with how the OS accesses and controls the memory in your system. Vista allows each separate application or process to operate within its own virtual memory space; for 32-bit Vista, it’s usually 2GB in size. The advantage of this, well-known to the Unix user community for years, is that when a process fails (which can be caused by an incorrect memory access, or a divide-by-zero, or any number of reasons,) the whole computer doesn’t have to be forced to its knees and a reboot required. Usually you can pick up and go on, or use the diagnostic information to deduce what caused the failure so you can fix it. This virtual memory isn’t the same as the amount of physical memory you have in your system, because when not needed, data can be paged to disk to free up some of the precious locations in your DDR2/DDR3 SDRAM.
Windows XP games using DirectX 9 also used some of this virtual memory. How much? As much as the GPU/video card memory (which could be 512MB.) Although Vista, with DirectX 10 and WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model,) has a more efficient mechanism for this memory management, it maintained backward compatibility with this XP “feature”. Consequently, games not using the new Vista memory management scheme run out of virtual memory far earlier and far more frequently than those that do. You’ll see stuttering screens, jumping cursors, and the infamous “nvlddmkm has stopped working” error. Sometimes games won’t even load.
That’s all very well and good, you say, but how can it be fixed? If you read the forums, suggestions such as “remove half your physical memory”, “increase the voltage”, “add cooling”, and “disable SLI” abound. They’re all a little extreme, we think. The remedy is a simple one. Firstly, read Microsoft’s knowledgebase article 940105 and then download and install the patch files (here are links for Vista 32-bit or for Vista 64-bit.)
With this fix installed you should be back to blasting aliens or negotiating tricky terrain with full Vista goodness (it’s all relative) in no time.
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