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.

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