Using Firewire Apple iSight on Windows Vista/7

It is possible!

A long time ago, I discovered that my external, firewire iSight camera worked on WindowsXP. It worked if I plugged it in at a very specific time during the boot-up process. XP SP2 broke it nearly completely, so it once again only functioned on my Mac. I didn’t really feel like learning how to write a device driver for Windows so I could make it work, so I didn’t bother with it.

Fast forward to today. I have been messing around with Windows 7, and I noticed that file transfers via Firewire were extremely slow. On a disk that should easily be in the 40-50MB/s range, I got a transfer rate around 300KB/s. I discovered that there was a bug in the Firewire driver for Windows Vista with a VIA controller that makes transfers super slow. I tried downloading the hotfix, but it wouldn’t install on Windows 7.

While there wasn’t any other Microsoft firewire driver I could install, there is an alternative by Unibrain that is available, and it installed. I actually couldn’t use my firewire disk at all with the Unibrain driver on Windows 7. In fact, I can pretty reliably make Windows 7 blue screen. I suppose that is at least one reason why it is still a beta.

However, disregarding the disk problem, the Unibrain driver set includes a driver for IIDC cameras. The original Apple iSight is just such a camera. I plugged it in, opened Skype, and Skype recognised the camera and let me play around with it.

Unlike Windows XP, which would initialise the camera with the iris completely open (thus giving a white picture), the picture this time was reasonable. Not as good as when connected to a Mac OS X computer, but usable.

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