I love Windows. I'll make no attempt to hide it, I am a Windows user, through-and-through, now and forever. I've used Windows since I started, and though I've used both MacOS and Linux extensively, at the end of the day, it's all about windows. Windows' match of simplicity and power just cannot be beat, and it's status as the majority platform of choice means the availability of software is unparalleled.
Some days, however, I work with Windows, and just wonder. Today has been one of those days. Today, I installed Windows 7.
The poor design started before the installation began. I owned a copy of Vista Ultimate. I like Ultimate, but this time, my financial situation is a bit different, and Professional made a bit more sense to me when it came to buying Windows 7. So, I bought an upgrade, and popped the disk in. It let me go about halfway through the pre-upgrade process before saying "Hey wait a minute. This is Ultimate. You can't upgrade from Ultimate to Professional!". There are two failures here:
- The most obvious one: while I realize the upgrade may change a few things in the system, I SHOULD be able to go from Ultimate to Professional. It should NOT be an issue. Come on guys, this just gives undo credit to all the critics who hate the diverse product offering.
- That non-withstanding - why did you allow me to waste a good 15 minutes in pre-update before telling me this?
Ultimately, I am forced to re-built from scratch, leaving me with a lot more work than I'd like. So I begin this process, after booting down my loyal Windows Vista install with a respectful salute, and the install goes smoothly till I hit the verification stage. I had printed my key out beforehand and proceed to type it in.
Ok, well, I've probably mis-typed it, let's go again....
Drat...one more time....
Ok......I compared the two.....They were identical! Crap. Something's wrong. After an hour of frantic digging, I finally found my original email only to find that the key I'd printed was in fact....the key for my beta copy! My bad. Ok...type it in and.....its good! Phew. Lesson learned: Activation still sucks. I'm not sure how this can be solved, but I'd sure as heck like it to be.
Now, finally, I boot up. No video or sound drivers are loaded, so I'm not gonna get much here. I pop in my bootcamp cd, which after several errors and warning messages about incompatibilities, finishes the install. I restart, and proceed to Windows update to get some video/audio drivers, and restart. Ok. Now - I realize Microsoft can't really address this problem. My hardware is not a "typical example" (being Apple), and Microsoft doesn't control the hardware platform like another fruit company I know, so cute startup videos are probably a non-starter, but I'd like to see a setup wizard that does a windows update routine before showing the user the desktop. Just seems better to me.
Next up, the Audio driver isn't working. Turns out this is because Apple has stopped releasing fixes for their 10.5 line of bootcamp installers, and if I want the latest bootcamp stuff, I've got to buy Snow Leopard. No thanks. This serves as a great demonstration of the difference between Apple and Microsoft. Microsoft ALLOWS others to break their software. With Apple, everything is so tightly controlled that the only one who ever breaks Apple's software is Apple themselves. They achieve this by creating very heavily regulated API's, tightly monitoring distribution, and making the development options so heavily pattern-oriented that nobody can get any serious coding in it except for Apple. It's REALLY easy to have a streamlined UE if you control all the hardware and software. When it came time to be on equal footing with everyone else in the real software world - Apple's product turns out to be no better than anyone else's - buggy and rough at the edges.
Microsoft stands to improve their situation here. A few more standards and a bit tighter control would annoy a lot of software guys out there, but probably work out better in the long run. Sure, eliminating/emulating the ActiveX framework would piss some people off, but it would probably be better in the long run. Microsoft needs to learn that they have to stop catering so much to the archivists - those who need to run 20 year old software. They are too small a market sector to keep supporting, especially at such a large cost to the majority of users. Vista was actually a step in this direction, and a good one - for which it got loads of undeserved bad press. The driver model FINALLY changed, security was finally taken seriously, the UE was updated....lots of better ideas. But Microsoft has a long way to go.....
Anyways - Windows 7 is finally working for me (though my Mac's CD reader isn't cooperating at the moment - again...dumb Apple machine), and I'm writing this from my new OS. The hard part is over, and now I get to enjoy my lovely windows again.