Thursday, March 13, 2008

Windows Vista – Worst Operating System EVER!

About a month ago, I bought a slick swanky new laptop. It’s a ‘real beaut’ – a Hewlett Packard Pavilion dv9000 dual core processor. Aside from being of the latest and greatest technology, it is also pretty big.

It’s a 17-inch widescreen laptop. Most laptops these days are 15.4 inches widescreen. So, what’s the big deal over an extra 1.6 inches? Size matters – and it actually really does when it comes down to monitors, televisions or any other sort of video display. Even a few extra inches makes a big difference in terms of the overall image quality, the smoothness of on-screen movement, and the speed at which the display updates.

Also, 17-inch widescreen laptops enjoy another benefit which smaller laptops miss out on – full keyboards. Because of that extra 1.6 inches, my new laptop has a full keyboard, including the numerical keypad on the right-hand side. All laptops smaller than 17-inches replace the numerical keypad with condensed function key combinations.

There are bigger laptops, believe it or not! When I was shopping around, I saw laptops with 22-inch and 24-inch widescreens! The downside to the bigger laptops, aside from the obvious price increase, is weight and battery longevity. The bigger the laptop, the heavier it is, and the less time it will run on batteries.

Still, when I brought home my new laptop, I was like a kid in a toy store. It was exciting, and although I spent a whole day installing software, it was an enjoyable experience.

My new laptop came with Microsoft’s latest incarnation of the Windows Operating system – Windows Vista Home Premium Edition.

I was hesitant at first when it came to buying a computer with the new operating system. I had no experience with Windows Vista, and from all the people I’ve talked to, including those in technical support and IT roles, most agree that Vista is not a good product.

But, almost all the Windows-based machines these days come with Vista pre-loaded. It is actually hard to find a decent Windows XP system – most are usually slower, and older technology which the stores are trying to sell off.

So, I got my first computer with Windows Vista, and at first I was okay with it. I wasn’t impressed. I’ve been around the technological block many times over, and I’ve seen real improvements over the years with real advances in software.

I remember back to the early years of personal computers, to an IBM PCjr running on MS-DOS 2.10. When we upgraded to MS-DOS 3.11, and then eventually up to MS-DOS 5.0 – now there were some real improvements.

Then Windows 3.0 and eventually Windows 3.10 came out, and it was like moving from a black and white television, to a high definition full color flat panel screen. That was a major improvement in technology.

Windows95 made significant advances to the Windows operating system, and was the first version of the current Windows XP and Vista versions we have today.

In between Windows 95/98 came Windows ME (for Millennium Edition as it was supposed to be released on the eve of the new millennium, but it was late). Windows ME was a disaster – it was released late because it wasn’t ready to go on time. Then, they rushed it out the door – even though it was already late – still full of major bugs.

History has a tendency to repeat itself, and unfortunately, Windows Vista is another Windows ME with a few fancy bells and whistles to disguise the fatal flaws.

Within the first few days of using my new laptop, I start receiving DLL file not found errors upon booting! One of the cool bells and whistles of Windows Vista is that, upon detecting an error, it will automatically try to self-diagnose and heal the problem. But as with Windows ME, many of the bells and whistles sounded cool – but never actually worked. I managed to fix the errors myself, using my own solutions – which often took weeks to resolve, through trial and error.

Also, Windows Vista has some serious issues with its own drivers. I am using a brand new, Vista-ready, wireless mouse made by Microsoft – the one and same company that makes Vista. Yet, one day, I was surprised to find Vista searching for the driver for my wireless mouse, which had been installed previously, and was working just fine the previous day. I hadn’t even unplugged any of the cables, I just shut-down my computer as per normal at the end of the day – yet Vista thought it had discovered new hardware and re-installed the driver.

This problem also happened with my Lexmark inkjet printer – which was even stranger, because the printer wasn’t on when Vista suddenly decided it found new hardware, which again had already been installed!

The real kick in the groin came exactly one-month to the day after I had bought my new Vista-invested machine. I received a DLL file not found boot-up error, and figured it was Vista, just being Vista. But this one had something to do with the display. Everytime I ran a program, it would open and run, but then the whole display would go blank! I couldn’t use my computer.

One of the main reasons I use laptops, is to cart my work to important meetings. Well, I had one of those important meetings in just a couple of hours, which I had planned to get ready for. Instead, I spent two-painfully fruitless hours trying to figure out what was going on – because Vista’s self diagnosing program didn’t even notice anything was wrong!

In the end, I just powered down my new laptop, grabbed a printed backup of other materials I could use in place of my PowerPoints and other cool computer-based demos, and I ran out of my apartment making it to my meeting just in time.

Yet, a month after getting a brand new computer, essentially that new computer was nothing more than an expensive doormat.

When I got home, I looked at my new computer with shock, horror and anger. It was as if my best friend had let me down just when I most needed my best friend. My meeting went surprisingly well, considering I had to improvise at the last minute. Years of experience have done me well. It pays to not only backup important files, but to have hard copies printed, in case you get stuck like I did – sans computer.

I spent an hour trying to fix another Windows Vista “feature” – but couldn’t resolve it. It’s pretty hard to figure out what you can’t see – and my laptop’s monitor mechanically was working – it was Vista that kept clearing the screen!

So, I formatted my hard drive, and re-installed the system to its factory settings. Then I spent a whole night working until 3am re-installing all my software!

It isn’t uncommon to wipe a Windows-based machine and re-install everything. Over time, the Windows registry and system files get cluttered, and need to be re-initialized. I’ve done this before on systems that were running the same Windows for several YEARS – not a matter of one MONTH!

Today, Vista through me another curve ball. I was running Norton’s Anti-Virus on my system since getting it – but today, it stopped all incoming mail. I could send emails no problem, but anything coming in was blocked. Funny, it was just working last night!

So, I’ve spent a couple hours uninstalling and re-installing anti-virus software. . .

Windows Vista is a great operating system, if you have nothing better to do with your life than constantly fix it!

Good thing I live on the upper levels of a very high, high-rise building – I’m thinking I may be tossing this new computer off the balcony sooner than later. (More likely, I’ll wipe the hard drive and “upgrade” to my previous, and stable operating system – Windows XP.)

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