Unless you're connected with the technical know-it-alls of this world, the chances are the following will seem rather confusing and highly illogical to you, but nonetheless, it accurately describes a real life situation brought about the almost-conspiratorial foolishness of two companies; Microsoft and VIA. Allow me, gentle reader, to explain. When Microsoft built Windows 2000 and Windows Millenium, ATA 100 was a bit of a myth, and the only controller cards you could get for it were rather poor, so as a failsafe measure, they didn't build proper support for it into the operating system, leaving it instead to the ATA 100 chipset manufacturer to come up with the goods. This, they thought, would help prevent them getting into trouble. The fact that it's taken a year for people to stand up and take notice kind of proves their point, and Whistler will no doubt make up for this purposeful oversight. Anyway, it's about a year on, and ATA 100 is all the rage. Its benefits are as debatable as ever, but in an effort to fit one more buzzword feature onto their motherboard setups, ABit, ASUS and co. have included native ATA 66/100 support, safe in the knowledge that VIA's motherboard drivers (those crazy "4-in-1" things they insist you install along with the rest of it) will understand and interpret the higher transfer rates for the operating system. Won't they, VIA? Hello? The point of course is that no, they don't. Even the latest official release of the VIA 4-in-1 drivers (4.25a) doesn't do the job, sticking all of your hard-drives into the vastly inferior PIO mode only, and ignoring any changes you try to make to that setting. Of course, those amongst us that care about such things as the speed of our hard-drives simply will not have this. We will fight them on the beaches, in the swamps, on our desktops and at our command prompts to overcome such an atrocity. And to this end, VIA Hardware.com, a similarly-minded group of fellows, have ferreted out a beta version of the VIA IDE Busmaster driver, in other words, the piece of software that tells your hard-drives and other devices what to do. A beta version it may be, but we've experienced no problems with it. If you download and install this, a little system tray program which you run on startup keeps an eye on what your drives are doing and enables you to tinker with their performance settings to no end! In my case, the performance of my machine under Windows 2000 improved almost as much as it did when I last upgraded my processor - something just about everyone with a new Athlon or Duron system and Windows 2000/Me will want to get their hands on.
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