No, not the robot from 2001. I’m talking about the Hardware Abstraction Layer in the Windows NT family. This week, I was using the Microsoft System Information tool (Msinfo32.exe) to gather some details about three systems here in my office. I was surprised to see that all three machines reported different HAL versions. Checking in with my Windows Vista Inside Out co-authors, I learned that they’re all seeing the same number:
That’s on a total of seven systems, including one here. But on two systems, both Dells, I’m seeing later build numbers:
A quick search turns up nothing to explain the differences.
If you’re running Vista, do me a favor and check the HAL version on your system. Run Msinfo32 from the Run box (Windows logo key+R) of from Search box on the Start menu. Look about two-thirds of the way down the System Summary page, above the user name and time zone fields. If you see a number other than 16386, leave a comment here with more details about your system (especially mfr and OEM/retail status)
Update: Microsoft’s John Gray posts a comment that explains it all. Executive summary: these are fixes described in KB 929777 and 930261, delivered via Windows Update or preinstalled by some OEMs. During and after beta testing, I remember hearing many complaints from testers with Nvidia chipsets about performance problems, crashes, and general instability, especially in configurations with lots of RAM (3GB or more). This is the fix, apparently. Read John’s entire comment for more details and some interesting links about the differences between XP and Vista dual-branch development.