ATI has just released a new display driver version called "Crimson" (which is really just a rebranded Catalyst version 15.11 release with some UI changes). I'm presently running Catalyst 15.9.1, 2 months old and which was a "beta" version - though it works perfectly.
My workstation, running Windows 8.1, has been running 24/7 on its current bootup since October (over 30 days now). I use it every day, usually quite heavily, to do software engineering and business management. It's been glitch-free, and is showing no signs of instability as time goes on. I couldn't be happier with the performance and reliability of this system. It's what I always hoped to achieve with Windows 8.1.
Since I am no longer applying Windows Updates, on the general principle that Microsoft can't or won't do anything good to improve Windows 8.1 from now on, I'm not forced to reboot it every so often. Hence the long run time since a reboot.
AMD claims performance improvements in Crimson, along with a new UI, though to be brutally honest everything I do with the version I have already happens virtually instantaneously, and in all cases in the past claims of performance improvements haven't affected basic desktop operations for me (I always do benchmarks after updates).
Some additional considerations:
- ATI is no doubt focusing more on making their drivers work well with Windows 10 and 7 than Windows 8.1, which is now used by only 12% or so of users worldwide.
- I do need to keep abreast of what's happening in the Windows driver realm because I do write commercial OpenGL-based software to sell to the Windows world. It would be good to know if the latest ATI release breaks something.
- I haven't received any problem reports from my existing customers, some of which have no doubt upgraded to Crimson already.
- I don't use my system for gaming, so game-oriented performance improvements - which is primarily what ATI driver development is about - aren't interesting to me.
- Stability is of prime importance to me since it allows me to concentrate on my work. Even if they were to somehow make something noticeably faster (and I'm not sure that's possible) if the new version were to introduce instability I would rather have the old "slower and reliable" version.
- There are not a lot of "screams of anguish" on forums coming from other users who have already updated to Crimson 15.11, so it's probably not a bad release. On the other hand, the number of folks reporting problems is not zero either. ATI quite often releases a .1 release shortly after a major version release, and as there IS a 15.11.1 beta already in the works.
- There is some evidence that a feature I use - that of being able to save a preset that's automatically loaded at login - may be missing or reduced in functionality. I'm still trying to get more info on that (notably no one answered my direct question on the ATI forum). Long gone are the days when how a piece of software works is documented thoroughly in a manual.
- I'm quite confident that I would be able to roll back to a working configuration if the new version breaks something.
- I dislike the current trend in dumbing-down user interfaces, and I don't feel I need performance improvements in the old Catalyst UI. It comes up quickly enough.
Do I resist the urge to get the "latest and greatest" display driver and just keep what I've got?
Or do I just install Crimson and see what happens?
Perhaps I should take the former approach until the decision is more clear.