I spent a lot of time over the weekend tring to sort out problems with the machines in my little home studio, mainly around getting MIDI output to work. Here are some notes, primarily to save myself time if I have similar problems again.
(It pains me to say I've committed myself to using an M$ OS in the music room, when I first bought he Delta 66 soundcard I couldn't get the drivers working with Ubuntu.)
The NetGear wg311v3 wireless card isn't compatible (the problem seems to be with addressing 4GB memory space). Not a MIDI issue but annoying nontheless. Fortunately I had a spare USB wireless interface, but the walls are a bit thick for wireless here, connectivity's lousy even when I have a repeater plugged in. Must address this sometime soon.
Microsoft have removed some of the Control Panel device management utilities around sound, specifically the widget for choosing MIDI output devices. There are several free 3rd party utilities around, most of which don't work. However the PWL MIDI-Mapper does appear to work (a German site where I found the link, link to utility itself).
ExergyXT is the multitrack audio/MIDI seq I use. It's generally excellent, inexpensive and well-featured, but MIDI out leaves something to be desired (it's hard to tell whether my problem was related to this, selection of specific output devices wouldn't show up, just 'All'). I saw VSTNETMID recommended as a workaround, but I didn't seem to get any output from this.
The current version doesn't make use of all the cores in a multicore processor (support on the way apparently), a little annoying since I just upgraded to a quad-core Athlon II. But even just one 3GHz core seems faster than the 1GHz Athlon I had before.
The soundcard - 4 inputs, 4 outputs, not really Professional but inexpensive reasonably good quality. The driver seems to work fine with Win 7, but I can't find the utility I used to have for setting resolution/rate (I prefer to work with 24-bit/96 kHz). Will have another look shortly. Right now I'm getting crunchiness when using EnergyXT's built-in synth, I suspect that's down to latency issues.
This is the USB MIDI box I've got. For a long time I've suspected it's a little unreliable when exposing its interface to the OS (but once connected it works fine), I thought that might have been the motherboard USB but now that's upgraded. To add to my confusion, the reviews of it I found seem to suggest it is reliable. By disconnecting this and just using the Blofeld's direct USB connection I do seem to have got a reliable connection there. Any others may have to wait until I get a new box (I'm tempted by the ESI M4U XL, it's 4x4).
As the main outboard MIDI instrument I use (it's an analog synth emulator module), this was also initially a suspect for connectivity problems. So I had a go at updating the firmware. You upgrade by pumping a MIDI file into it. Unfortunately the Waldorf site is thin on documentation, EnergyXT really didn't want to play with this, and Win 7's media player left me with a picture of Nietzsche on the Waldorf's screen and the quote "Das vollkommene soll nicht geworden sein" (Google Translate makes this "Become the perfect should not be", right, I see your point). The Blofeld looked bricked until I discovered there's a minimal recovery mode available by switching on with the Utility and Global buttons depressed. Finally I found out what the problem was - Win 7 MIDI player doesn't play some low-byte system messages. By using the midi player in MIDI-OX I was finally able to get the firmware to take (MIDI-OX seems like a must-have utility, it shows a lot of what's going on, although I can't remember much about wire-level MIDI).
One possible silver lining in all of this. While nosing around the Blofeld site I discovered they now have a 99euro bit of software for the box (with free Win app to drive it) giving it what sounds like good, integrated, sampling facilities. Although it seemed a little cheeky making this payware when you already need to have bought the hardware, put another way, 99euro for a hardware sampler module is rather good. I couldn't resist. Hope to try it this afternoon.