Free Yourself From Windows Vista

I have become the de-facto neighborhood tech support geek. Huh, you ask? Well, combine a pretty face with a bit of computer hackery know-how, and what do you expect?

During the course of regular Windows tech support adventures, I have accidentally observed an interesting trend ever since our friends in Redmond gave us Windows Vista. The trend: Tech support calls are up — way up. Before Vista, I would go months without a call, and now I’m getting called constantly. Here are a couple gems from this week:

1. The infinite reboot

We all know we’re supposed to keep our computers up to date with the latest patches from Microsoft, right? If not, the boogey man will get you, and the terrorists will win the War. So we all dutifully download and install (automatically, of course) these beloved patches every month like it’s our patriotic duty. Well, this week Microsoft released a particularly good patch. This one causes your computer to reboot so it can finish applying the updates (a normal course, to be sure), but after the reboot, and before you can actually login to your computer, it reboots again. Then it repeats the process, reboot, apply the patch, fail, reboot, apply the patch, fail, and you get the picture. There is no solution that I could find, though I did find lots of forums full of irate users whose computers stopped working. The only solution was a complete system wipe and re-install from scratch. The cost: about 8 hours.

2. “Easy” internet access

Jamie and I bought an iMac computer last week. It’s awesome. I brought it home, unboxed it, plugged it in, and it just worked. No configuration, no settings, no “cancel or allow?”, no headaches. It just worked. Internet worked, sound worked, movies worked, and I have about 75% fewer cords under my desk now.

On the other side of the coin, I was helping a friend setup their Comcast internet tonight in Windows Vista. I noticed that, out of the box, internet access is actually disabled (a “security” measure I’m sure since only Terrorists and Communists use the internet). But you can’t tell by looking at any settings in the control panel. It appears that it should be working. To make it work, you actually have to navigate to the control panel, then to “Network and sharing center” (yeah, I would have guess that meant “get me on the freaking internet”), then you have to disable the “Local Area Network Connection”, and then, and finally, you have to re-enable it. Some of this requires a right mouse click, some of it a double click, and some of a left mouse click. What a pain. Oh, and by the way, you get asked a couple times whether you want to “cancel or allow”, with a helpful warning that you should only “allow” if you trust the “executable” from “Unknown Publisher”, which of course happens to be the publisher that I trust the most!

I just don’t know how Microsoft expects non-programmers to figure out how to use their computers.

I have never struggled to use a computer so much. This really is the hardest computer I’ve ever used, and I’ve used some of the most arcane UNIX and Linux workstations imaginable (HP-UX anyone?).

So, seriously people, do yourself a favor and get a Mac. Save yourself the hours of pain and suffering setting up this piece of crap from Microsoft.

Oh, and don’t complain that Macs cost more than Windows PC’s because a PC is only cheaper if your time is worthless.


The hot iMac with the hotter Wife.

8 comments to “Free Yourself From Windows Vista”

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  1. P.S., not only is my Mac really cool, but it has a really slick keyboard that makes a gratifying sound with every keystroke. Mmmm, so gratifying.

  2. Yes! Someone besides your family reads your blog. I have some gripes about Macs and yes all my trendy friends have one.
    1) The cost. Already covered but worth mentioning again. When I can get a laptop that is almost 500$ cheaper than a macbook AND is faster I think I am going with the PC, though I am cheap so it makes sense to me.
    2) The proprietary nature of apple. With this company I can’t pick and choose anything I want OR build from scratch, which I do, a system. Though the parts are quality, I don’t think its fair that I can’t shop around on the free market for what I want.
    3) OK I really don’t have anything substantial besides the no right clicking option.

    Bottom line though, if you are just someone who doesn’t know computers very well and money is no object, then by all means buy a Mac. They look cool and are designed to save space. But power users will want something more for cheap and its sad that windows is the only well known OS out there for non Mac systems. What I find most sad, though, is that Ubuntu is much better than vista yet all new PCs come with vista preinstalled. When I picked up my new laptop last summer, after I decided that the macbook was WAAAAY overpriced, I immediately installed Ubuntu and use it 99% of the time. Windows needs to rethink their approach to software and all you windows users out there, learn Linux (Ubuntu preferably) you will thank yourself later.

  3. Kirk:

    I respectfully disagree with all your points.

    Number 1, my iMac cost as much as a comparable Dell. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples (no pun intended) for similarly specified computers. Apple hardware tends to be higher end. Similarly marketed Dell computers tend to be lower performers.

    Number 2, I assume you are talking about the hardware here, because the Darwin kernel is a BSD derivative, and I can install and run all kinds of open source, non-proprietary software. Out of the box, I have a functional terminal and development environment. Can’t say the same for Windows. As for other hardware, it’s true, you can only buy Apple branded computers to run Apple’s OS on (legally anyway). The truth is, though, that part of Windows instability is because of all the crappy third party hardware it has to run on.

    I’ve been using Linux for the past 8 years. I have to say. Linux usability stinks. I’ve been wanting to migrate my family and friends to Linux for a long time, and every year I think, “this will finally be the year.” About 2 years ago, I finally gave up. The Linux community can’t seem to really gel around a particular desktop long enough to iron out all the usability quirks. They keep abandoning frameworks instead of polishing the existing stuff to the point that it’s usable by lay people. It seems that every year there’s some new inter-process communication standard that requires a whole slew of software rewriting (dbus, anyone?).

    When I install Linux on a new desktop or laptop, I try to see how long I can go without having to type anything on the command line. I’ve never made it a whole day on a new computer without having to break out the terminal. That, for my non-technical family and friends, is unfortunately unacceptable.

    Nothing against the command line. I love it, but I wouldn’t make my mom do it. ;)

  4. I will bend on the Apple OS. I have HEARD it is very stable but I cannot be sure since I do not own an apple and cannot comment on that part. The Macbook is overpriced even for the lowest version. I will agree that the price/performance does match up to like a dell or something similar. For system builders, however, the price tag comes out way lower than the mac equivalent. I can shop around for the best deals and put it together with what I want. That option does not exist for apple. Like I said, if you have the money and you are going to buy package anyway, buy a mac. It IS better quality hardware and software. I am sure I will own an Imac one day when I have the money to throw around.

    With linux, typing into the console is half the fun. But I like control and to solve problems that way. I could see how a lay person would be intimidated. But you have to learn an OS sometime in your life, I just think linux is more worth it. Though if people actually took time to learn their OS most of you computer folks would be out of a job.

  5. MacOSX is good…. apple is only design (and it doesn’t deserve all this success).

  6. I love talking about Apple in public because people get so polarized. :)

    Anto: Apple is only design and doesn’t deserve all the success? Are you suggesting that companies who provide poorly designed products deserve more success?

    Personally, I’ve never used such a simple and easy-to-use computer, and yet it has all the UNIX features I’ve come to love in Linux. I could list all the great features of my iMac, but I’ll spare you the litany.

  7. BTW, I was talking to someone today as they were griping about how Vista kept installing updates, then uninstalling, and then reinstalling them again for no reason. With snoot in my voice I let them know what I use in place of Vista.

  8. I do not understand most of what you post on here- but i do understand this! Mac’s are WAY better and to combat that other guys gripe about the price… My Dell that we had when we were first married went illegitimate less than a year after we bought it. They are still selling the Mac we bought over 3 years ago- today. Talk about holding their value. FYI- when we sold our Dell to get our Mac we could only get like $200 for it- There were already a ton of new versions of Dell out.
    Personal favorite thing about Macs- NO INSTALLING AND UNINSTALLING- if i don’t like a program i just downloaded…. click and drag to the trash like real life.

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