Legacy Soft Modem Support

A recent attempt to recommission a Compaq Presario 5062 has left me with a workstation that cannot communicate using the modem.

While this might seem like a trivial problem, the driver download page offers both a Conexant HCF V.90 and an Integrated Modem V.90 Upgrade yet neither of these drivers work with this system. Since the modem has a chip on it the the label Conexant, it seems most likely this is the proper driver. However, the driver updates from Compaq immediately remove TURBOVCD.VXD and any attempt to replace it result in a request for my Windows 95 disc.

Unfortunately, this is a Windows 98 install and of course Compaq never bothered to include an actual operating system CD. The entire computer is restored using a Quick Restore disc, while this is suppose to return the PC to the factory installed state it actually does everything except make the modem work.

While at this point one might assume the modem is bad, an attempt to drop in another soft modem produces no result. In order for a soft modem (aka: WinModem) to function correctly you need a driver for the device itself along with the Hayes-style modem command set it can interpret. Is there any benefit to this style of device? While the manufacturer can save money with a piece of hardware that has fewer components, the user is left with a kludgy device that requires multiple drivers to operate correctly. To make matters worse, this is a underperforming PC that really doesn’t have memory or CPU to spare for this kind of device.

Although HP/Compaq did offer me technical support, it really is a lost cause at this point. Beware of simple hardware that requires a complex software driver to operate, especially when this device can run over a standard parrallel or serial communications port.

Another great example of this is the Lexmark 7200V, but more on that some other time.