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Fred's Views


Why Do We Keep Putting Up With It?

By the time this appears on my web site, Microsoft should have officially released their new version of Windows called Vista. From all reports it looks like Microsoft has done it again - released a product so buggy and full of holes that Microsoft should hide its collective face in shame. But it won't. And we'll all rush out to buy the latest and the greatest. It's a shame. Of course, the reports I've read may be wrong. Maybe it will be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I'm not holding my breath.

I've read a little about the "improvements" the new version will bring our way. None of them seem to be worth five years of effort. And the last thing we need is a new "look and feel" user interface. However, if IE 7 is any indication, that's what we are in for. Microsoft will once again "fix" what isn't broken and keep shipping out shoddy products. I am neither a fan nor enemy of Microsoft. I'm just someone who would like to get fair value for my hard-earned dollars. I don't get that from Microsoft - with a few exceptions. I will give Microsoft praise for continuing to offer Internet Explorer for free. I just wish they could get it right. I applaud them for making Visual Basic Express and other programming languages available for free. It's long been needed. If they don't remain available for free, I hope they will be available for a modest fee - something under $50.

But Microsoft has got a long way to go before I will willing to fork over $200 for a new operating system.

A little while ago, Microsoft finally caught up with me and cajoled me into upgrading to IE7 - which has bombed on me at least twice so far. When I first started the new version up, I thought I had been magically whisked off to some foreign land - it was the worst, most confusing interface I had encountered since I tried to configure IIS (If you don't know what that is, consider yourself lucky.) The only thing that comes close is the gawd-awful user interface program My Home that comes with Nero 7. Talk about a useless piece of software. (By the way, I just started it up to check on the name. Wonder of wonders, if you press the left(maybe) or right arrow keys, the senseless icons revolve and magic text appears giving you some small inkling to what they are all about. It was strickly by accident I discovered that little tidbit. I still hate it.) Back to IE7. Gone was my friendly security blanket otherwise known as a menu bar. Gone was my security teddy known as real, honest-to-goodness text under (or beside) the non-intuitive icons. I didn't have a clue where to begin. I was ready to uninstall it and rely solely on Firefox. IE7 may yet be the best reason to move to Firefox. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I found the menu bar and made it visible again. I just now replaced the text for some of the icons. So far, I have not found a way to add text to the "Back" and "Forward" buttons, nor to the "Refresh" or "Stop" buttons which I just located. Why does Microsoft continue to "improve" their products by making them less usable? I like my "classic" Windows look and feel. It's easy to use and it makes me feel very comfortable. When I move over to a machine running "pure" XP, it takes a while to find out where the things I use all the time are. I hate that. And Vista is only promising more of the same.

Since I penned the paragraphs above, I have purchased a new notebook. I'm not sure I got a good deal. I ended up spending twice as much as the machine I was seriously considering. Sure I got more. Apparently, at the advertised price, you don't even get a battery! Bait and switch, anyone? Anyway, I bought it when I bought it because it still came with Windows XP but there's a little coupon that entitles me to a Vista upgrade just for "postage and handling" of $19.95. That should be the cost of a full upgrade. I feel somewhat gyped. Not that I deny Microsoft (I assume, it might be the computer manufacturer) the $19.95, but now that Microsoft is making Vista available for download (whoa, boy, you still have to pay through the teeth for it), why should I have to pay for shipping if I'm willing to download it as well? Just a thought.

As you can tell, I haven't applied for my Vista upgrade yet, although I will. But I'm in no hurry. I honestly haven't read about any new Vista features that make it a "must have" upgrade. I haven't even heard of much that would make it a "nice to have" upgrade. Still, I'll likely give it a try, sometime.

As proof that I'm not a complete stick in the mud, I'm trying to use my new notebook with the standard Windows XP look and feel. I still prefer the "classic" look, but I'm getting used to the new, less intuitive(and less useful) approach of XP. I even finally got my wireless newtwork to work - although I had to buy a new router. I still don't know if the old router was my only problem. However, with the help of McAffee Total Care (which I picked up at Costco for my new notebook, but which, praise be to McAffee, comes with a three computer licence) and a program bundled with the new router, I got it working.

Now if only someone could tell me why I still can't access my main desktop computer from the other computers on the network and why my wife has to provide her password every time she checks her mail, I'd be in computer heaven, almost!

Fred


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