[Note: This post was made pre-Windows 7 release when ASUS did not yet support Windows 7. Since that time the correct drivers have been released - see my post in the comments section for more details.]
A trend I appear to to be experiencing recently is applying a vendor supplied update to one of my gadgets only to have the update trash my device. It happened rather spectacularly with my iPhone when Apple released 3.1 and now my ASUS 1005HA netbook experienced a similar fate.
ASUS recently added Windows 7 as an official operating system option for their software and firmware. Going to their website to check on BIOS updates I can now select Windows 7 and find a wide variety of BIOS versions listed for the operating system.
However has ASUS added official support of Windows 7 in their BIOS? Will the special features of the EEE PC, such as all the blue function keys, be supported? Yes and no, but ultimately I had to once again figure out how to fix my gadget by removing the update …..
Unlike many laptops where the blue function keys represent a few extended options, the ASUS netbook relies upon the blue function keys for many standard inputs – page up, page down, home, and end in addition to all the special volume control and wireless device function keys.
Pressing one of those keys involves three layers of software. The top layer is an application that runs in the background (one such app is the Super Hybrid Engine). That layer then talks to the device driver. the device driver then talks to the special functions in the BIOS (or firmware) installed on the motherboard.
ASUS supplies the three components to make the blue keys work – the BIOS, the ACPI drivers and the application software.
One problem is that ASUS has only ever written the top two layers, the ACPI drivers and the software, for Windows XP. Even though they now have BIOS available under the Windows 7 category, they still have not listed the ACPI drivers or the software for Windows 7.
Yet Windows 7 does offer some special features, such as pretending to be Windows XP to let old software run. Choosing to run in XP compatibility mode makes the installer believe it is running on Windows XP and tries its best to install on Windows 7.
When I first received my EEE PC netbook this is what I did to install the ASUS ACPI driver, the font resizer and the super hybrid engine. Using the compatibility mode it is possible to successfully install the drivers and the application software on Windows 7. However that was when my EEE PC was running BIOS version 0703.
Since then ASUS updated their BIOS with two new versions – 0801 and 0905. Various notes about improved battery life make these new versions extremely enticing, specially as they now appear to support Windows 7. But what about the ACPI drivers? There was no mention of them under Windows 7, but I already had them installed and running under Windows 7 compatibility mode.
Taking the plunge I first start with updating my BIOS from 0703 to 0801. Immediately after the reboot my system started popping up error dialogs telling me I was missing the ACPI driver. Closing the window immediately spawned a new one. This soon became annoying as it never stopped.
Apparently with this newer BIOS, the already installed ACPI drivers that I installed in XP mode no longer worked. By adding Windows 7 support to the BIOS they broke how the drivers talked to the BIOS. But that made no sense since the same drivers still talked to the new BIOS when running on Windows XP. Clearly something other than just adding Windows 7 support is broken.
Not yet worried though I updated to the next 905 version to see if perhaps the problem is fixed.
No dice. Whatever ASUS broke in the 0703 BIOS is still broken in the 0901 version.
The solution then to running the ASUS ACPI drivers on Windows 7 was to stay with BIOS 703. Even though ASUS added the new BIOS releases under a Windows 7 category, they changed how the ACPI interface worked. Not updating was the best solution. Nice to know now.
The problem then became how to go backwards and install the older BIOS. Their update tool would not let me install the older BIOS. After a few Google searches I was able to find how to downgrade the BIOS to 0703 to get ACPI working again on Windows 7:
- Download the 0703 BIOS from http://support.asus.com/download/download_item_dna.aspx?product=20&model=Eee%20PC%201005HA&SLanguage=en-us&os=29
- Download the older ASUS Update V6.10.02 from http://support.asus.com/download/download_item.aspx?product=1&model=A8N-SLI&type=BIOS (link broken)
- Scroll down to ASUS Update V6.10.02 Install Program for Windows 2000/XP/2003 & for Windows 64bit XP/2003.
- Install ASUS Update, then select Options from the dropdown list.
- Click next, then check BIOS Downgradable.
- Click next, then select Update BIOS from a file, then click next.
- Select the 0703 BIOS ROM file, then click Flash.
After it finishes flashing your BIOS you check your BIOS settings that everything is to your liking and then once again enjoy using the EEE PC functions under Windows 7.
Perhaps one day ASUS will properly support Windows 7. Considering it is scheduled for general availability on October 22 (a few weeks from now), one would think that ASUS would be ready to properly support their systems by now.