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Why Windows 7 Will Be a Success, Whether Good or Not

BallmerWin7 Windows 7 hasn’t even arrived yet but the speculation started: What’s wrong with Windows 7.  To be fair, the speculation is fueled by an unlikely source: Steve Ballmer himself.  He is trying to manage a potential fallout by warning us:

“’The test feedback (on Windows 7) has been good, but the test feedback on Vista was good,’ Ballmer, 53, said in an interview last week. ‘I am optimistic, but the proof will be in the pudding.’”

Indeed. But I actually think Windows 7 does not even have to be good to be a success (and my readers know I am not exactly a MS-fan). Here’s why:

  • Vista was such a disaster, that everyone will be happy to escape it.  Says Walt Mossberg: In just two weeks, on Oct. 22, Microsoft’s long operating-system nightmare will be over.  Yes, we’ll be happy to leave that nightmare behind, even if we got raped in the process (had to pay ransom to get out of a failed OS)
  • Those who avoided Vista (smart decision), and that includes most of Corporate IT  are on a good but ancient WinXP, which will be phased out eventually, so the only choice is to go ahead with Windows 7.

In other words, this OS does not have to be particularly good.  This is it, the World will adopt it.  And if it turns out to be another dud (which I doubt)  well, we will have a few years to ponder why keep on buying software ( and that includes Office and more) from a company that hasn’t been able to produce a decent OS in a decade.

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Windows Update Sent Me on a Wild Goose Chase

hpdisplay It all started like a routine WinUpdate: downlod 6 updates, install them, then surrender the persistent nuisance and reboot to let Vista do its thing.. then wait .. wait.. coffee .. back.

However, after the successful reboot the system wanted to install a device driver to my monitor.  I thought it was a bit weird (has it not just done it?), but clicked OK, let it search for the driver.  Searching in Windows Update, that is… WTF?

After  a few minutes I decided to check Vista update history: it turns out that the driver update for my HP w2207 display failed to install.  Clicking on all the “help” links led to generic useless nonsense – business as usual…

Continue reading

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The Vista Movie

OK, I admit.  The title over-promises, the post under-delivers.  This won’t be an exciting thriller. In fact it’s outright boring.  Like watching paint dry.  But that’s exactly the point, Vista took a good minute to delete a single file ( I got bored after 18 seconds and stopped recording).

Must be a giant file…. NOT.  It’s not 1.1GB, not 1.1MB, it is 1.1KB.

Of course some would say it’s just a perception… and they are probably right.  Ransom paid, and I’m sure by the end of the year this whole 3-year nightmare with Vista will appear just that… a nightmare.  Never happened.

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Vista Update Drives PC Into Perpetual Reboot Cycle

My Vista-based laptop gave me the Windows has recovered from an unexpected shutdown screen: this is where you have the options to start Windows normally or select one of several “safe” driver- and service-less modes to boot.  I picked normal, the system booted .. end of story.

Except… I walked away for a little while, and 15 or so minutes later when I came back, the computer was in the same stage.  So I repeated the process… and guess what:

Coming back a little later again, I saw the computer at the ugly reboot screen again.  What was going on?  This is a few weeks old laptop with hardly anything installed on it, is it already dying?

I got lucky: for the first time in my life, Vista’s Problem Reports and Solutions actually found the answer:

After you apply update 973879 on a computer that is running an x64-based version of Windows Vista or of Windows Server 2008, you may receive a "Stop 0x0000007e" or "Stop 0×00000050" error message within 10 minutes after system startup.

Well, not exactly, I dug into what these errors were, and my computer behaved rather differently, basically playing a game of perpetual reboot.  Still, I figured I would go ahead and uninstall this update – I even got lucky, I could simply remove it without having to resort to the more torturous Method 3, that involves a Windows Preinstallation Environment.  (Yuck… I don’t like the sound of it.).

Voila!  My PC is in working condition again… and I just hope in won’t become total crap in the two months left before it gets rescued by Windows 7.

 

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)

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Microsoft Vissa and Other Customer Service Gems

I don’t normally quote such a huge chunk of a post, but this is a gem:

A couple years ago, after trying nearly everything to get my new Dell to work, I did the unthinkable. I called Dell’s tech support. After giving the service tag and all that other jazz, I explained the problem to the technician.

"According to the BIOS," I said, "my computer has 4GB of RAM installed. But Vista Ultimate only shows 2GB."

"Hmm," the tech responded, "what is this Vissa software you are using?"

"Microsoft Vista Ultimate," I explained, "you know, the new Microsoft OS?"

The rep paused. "I’m sorry, we don’t support third party software. But if you would like, I can help you restore your computer to its original state. Do you have your Dell Resource CD?"

"No, no," I countered, "this isn’t third party software. It is the operating system that came with the computer when I purchased it from you."

"What is the software called again?"

"Microsoft Vista," I said slowly, "Ultimate Edition."

The rep put me on hold for a few minutes and returned several minutes later. "Where did you get this Vissa program? I will see if anyone here has heard of it."

"Well," I wasn’t sure how to respond, "it’s Microsoft’s newest Operating System, and it is called Vista."

"Ooooh," the rep responded, "Vissa! Yes, I understand now."

I just waited for a moment.

"Well Mr. Mike," he said, "this is a problem with the Vissa software. We have notified Microsoft and they have informed us that you can not use more than 3GB of memory with this software. I suggest you uninstall it and install the XP Pro that came with your computer."

"But, my computer came with Vista Ultimate installed on it. It is less than two weeks old."

The technician seemed a little confused, "okay, but I can send you a copy of XP Pro?"

"No thank you," I said, "my friend bought the exact same PC, and his shows the 4GB in Vista, so I don’t think it is a bug."

"I see. So is there anything else I can help you with, Mr. Mike?"

"I would really like to find out how to resolve this," I pleaded, "I read up a little on it on a website, but I cannot make changes to the BIOS with everything grayed out. I was hoping you could help me?"

"Unfortunately we don’t offer support for other software like Bios and Vissa, but we can help you restore your system back to its original configuration if you would like?"

"No," I was started to get agitated, "I really would like see the 4GB in Vista."

Without even acknowledging my request, the rep said "so is there anything else I can help you with Mr. Mike?"

"But can’t you tell me who else I could check with to try and find answer to this problem?"

In the same exact tone, the rep repeated "so is there anything else I can help you with Mr. Mike?"

I said no, and disconnected the call shortly thereafter.

Hilarious.  And yes, I’m pretty sure the story is somewhat exaggerated, perhaps entirely fictional, yet something in the dialogue will no doubt sound familiar to all of us.  The Brainless Stonewalling Machine runs Customer Service in far too many places.

Btw, you should bookmark / subscribe to The Daily WTF.

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The Shortest Windows 7 Wish-list

Ed Bott compiled a detailed wish-list for Windows 7. Mine is shorter:

  • Call it  Vista Final (meaning it works)
  • Provide it  free of charge to all Vista victims
  • Attach a letter of apology from Microsoft
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Blinded by Vista Sales Numbers

This is one of those rare occasions when I can pull up an old post, dust it off,  and voila! – I’m done.  Yes, I am lazy – but hey, I can’t help, this is one of those “I’ve told you” moments.   Here’s what I wrote last year:

Time for a reality check. Product quality, customer satisfaction and market success have very little to do with each other when you have a monopoly.

The Vista problems are real, they are not fantasies created by bloggers. But how exactly are consumers supposed to revolt? They still need computers, and despite Apple’s respectable growth, they still represent a fraction of the consumer PC market. Try to buy a PC today, it’s hard to NOT end up with Vista (even I got one)

Customer demand for Vista? No, it’s customer demand for computers, in a market with no choice. I’m not “making this up”, Donna. It’s all in Microsoft’s 10-Q:

…Client revenue growth correlates with the growth of purchases of PCs from OEMs that pre-install versions of Windows operating systems because the OEM channel accounts for approximately 80% of total Client revenue. The differences between unit growth rates and revenue growth rates from year to year are affected by changes in the mix of OEM Windows operating systems licensed with premium edition operating systems as a percentage of total …

The increased “demand” for premium versions comes from another well-documented fact, i.e. Microsoft’s new segmentation, castrating Vista Home Basic and essentially making Home Premium the equivalent of XP Home – a hidden price increase, by any measure.

A true measure of “demand” for Vista would be corporate licenses and retail sales, and both are behind. But not for long: eventually, after the release of SP1 corporate IT will give in, too – who wants to be “left behind”, after all.

Today InfoWorld burst the Vista Sales Bubble (if you ask me, there never has been a bubble, but that’s another matter):  35 percent of mainly enterprise-class users “downgrade” their Vista systems to XP.

The numbers speak for themselves, let me just add this: next time you look at Vista Sales figures, remember: these customers did not have the choice to buy XP directly, they had to get Vista on their systems, then “downgrade” (upgrade, if you ask me) to XP.    But by then their transaction is booked as a Vista purchase!

Vista sales figures are inflated, these transactions were not real purchases, just ransom paid to the monopolist for the privilege to use the OS that actually works- XP.

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Windows 7: Multi-touch and Salt in the Wound

Today the world is raving (not really) about Windows 7′s multi-touch capabilities. Yet the overwhelming feeling I have about the latest Bill & Steve show is disappointment. I feel betrayed…abandoned. They created this turd Vista, then instead of fixing it they move on to the next thing. I’m left behind with this piece of junk. Incidentally, here’s another telling Vista screen, captured today:

You know, the famous Vista copy problem supposedly fixed in SP1. (OK, I realize this is deletion rather than copy, but it’s file manipulation nevertheless … I assume it’s the same problem)

I really wasn’t kidding when I said:

Windows 7, whenever it comes, should be released as “Vista Final”, free to all Vista victims along with Microsoft’s letter of apology.

Read more here: Between the Lines, ParisLemon, CNET News.com, All about Microsoft, InfoWorld, InformationWeek, Gizmodo, GottaBeMobile, VentureBeat, Outside the Lines, WinExtra, Scobleizer, TechCrunch, The Inquisitr, The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs …etc…etc.

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Gmail Faster? Are You Sure?

Great performance has always been an obsession at Google and it’s something that we think about and work on everyday. We want Gmail to be really fast, and we keep working on ways to make it faster

- says the Official Gmail Blog. They go on:

One of the areas we worked on was the initial loading sequence: everything that happens behind the scenes between the time you press the “Sign in” button on the login page and the moment you land in your inbox. While the improvements we made won’t resolve every “This is taking longer than usual…” message you might see when loading Gmail over a slow connection, we’ve seen a real reduction (up to 20%) in overall load time compared to when we started.

Hm…so the initial loading sequence got faster. Great news – I have only one question: Why do I now always see this previously unknown progress bar every time I sign in to Gmail?

Btw, I created the account specifically for this test, so it has absolutely no email to be pre-processed. Truth be told the progress bar flashes up and disappears quite fast in the empty account, but it stays there long enough in my real accounts with a lot of data. Not exactly a sign of progress, if you ask me (pun intended).

Update: A sure sign that Gmail must have gone through some changes is that the very popular Gmail Manager Firefox add-on is now knocked out: it is unable to login to any Google Apps email accounts. Regular Gmail accounts appear to be unaffected.

Update#2: I guess I should point out the positive side of the story: this approach is a lot better (transparent) then the Microsoft approach to their slow copy problem, where Vista SP1 improved (perceived) performance partly by rethinking the progress-bar. smile_omg

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Twhirl & Adobe Air: Catch-22

My favorite Twitter app, Twhirl died on me two days ago. Actually, it’ snot Twhirl itself, the error message clearly identifies Adobe Air, stating the installation is damaged.

Fixing it should be easy: just reinstall Air. Except… I can’t. Adobe installer says: This version of Adobe Air is already installed on your system. Yeah, thank you, I know, but it’s corrupted.

Oh, well, next step is uninstalling Air, then installing it again. Except… I can’t do that, either. A quick search shows I am not alone: several users report that in Vista Adobe Air does not show as an installed application, hence you can’t uninstall it, either.

Catch-22.smile_angry I hope Adobe proves otherwise.

Update (5/16): I found a forum tip: run the Adobe Air installer from a command prompt with the -uninstall parameter. It worked, I got Air off the system, then installed it again. Guess what: Twhirl still reports damaged Air file. Next I thought I would uninstall Twhirl – I can’t. Unlike Air, this one is listed in the Control Panel, you can click on Uninstall – nothing happened.

I’ve been off twitter for several days now, have seen evidence of users reporting this issue but received no response whatsoever from either Twhirl or Adobe yet. This s*cks, big time.

Update (5/16):  Adobe Support came through, the recommended the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility. It helped, although not in a straightforward way. Steps involved:

  1. Install Windows Installer Cleanup Util
  2. Cleanup Adobe Air and Twhirl
  3. Now Adobe Air shows up  in Control Panel, so I click Uninstall.  Error: This app requires a version of Adobe Air which is no longer supported.  Oh, well, on to the next steps…
  4. Install current Air version
  5. Try Twhir: still shows Air error, the installation of the application is damaged.
  6. But there is hope, at least now I can uninstall Air from the Control Panel.
  7. Install Air again (same installer I just did minutes before)
  8. Try twhirl again: still shows “damaged” message.
  9. Try uninstalling twhirl from control panel – can’t.  Air error again.
  10. Try re-installing twhirl again.  Can’t: already exist in current location… but that’s a good clue.
  11. Installed Twhirl in new directory, and voila! it works now.   To bad i have leftover crap from previous install.

In the end, after several days and many  hoops, I am back on twitter (twhirl) again.   Still like twhirl as a product, but their support sucks. thumbs_down Non-existent – at least on the very media they live and die for: twitter.   5 calls for help over 5 days left unanswered.  I received better support from Comcast on Twitter.