Creative Labs has enraged customers by threatening a developer with legal action after he wrote drivers that allowed its products to run smoothly on Vista.
Soundcard maker Creative accused the developer, known only as daniel_k, of theft and warned him not to infringe its intellectual property.
Daniel_k has created a number of drivers which make Creative's soundcards work smoothly on PCs running Windows Vista. He had posted a link to them on a forum on Creative's website and many users had downloaded them.
Without his drivers, users say, Creative's soundcards cause Vista machines to crash or features to fail.
This is despite the fact that Creative markets its sound cards as "Vista-compatible".
But Creative has not taken kindly to Daniel_k's efforts and has accused the developer with breaching its intellectual property.
The company posted a statement on the forum on Friday and removed all the developer's messages.
In the statement, Creative's vp of corporate communications Phil O'Shaughnessy addressed daniel_k personally. He wrote: "Where we do have a problem is when technology and IP owned by Creative... are made to run on other products for which they are not intended.
"We own the rights to the materials that you are distributing. By enabling our technology and IP to run on soundcards for which it was not originally offered or intended, you are, in effect, stealing our goods.
"To be clear, we are asking you to respect our legal rights in this matter and cease all further unauthorised distribution of our technology and IP."
The developer backed down almost immediately. Posting a reply the same day, he wrote: "I do know what is right, so I'll stop developing and distributing Creative softwares and drivers."
But he was clearly upset. "The funny thing is that you are faster "protecting" your technologies and intellectual properties than providing improved drivers and softwares for your customers.
"You purposedly [sic] crippled and ruined the Audigy/Live! (Emu10kx) and the Audigy LS/SE/Value/Live!24-bit (P17) drivers for Windows Vista.
"This just proves you don't really care about what your customers... think about you."
Other forum users rallied behind the embattled developer, saying his drivers had made Creative's sound cards work better.
One wrote: "He offered a service you guys can't/won't, and in so [doing] made a lot of your customers happy about their product again. Now you wanna wipe him out and keep him silent by threatening about legal actions. This is a beyond retarded, shame on you, shame on you."
Forum posters have described Creative's stance as a massive PR disaster, saying they should be giving Daniel_k a job, not threatening him with legal action.
At the time of writing, Creative was unavailable to offer any comment beyond its initial statement. ®