Windows Frustration

I’m in the process of restoring a Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop that is the property of my in-laws. For the record, it was my wife’s computer before we bought her a used MacBook. Ultimately, I’m not upset or frustrated at the computer itself, because the hard drive in the unit gave out–something that is going to be increasingly rare issue as we move to SSD drives, which have no moving parts. A failed hard drive on a six year old computer is understandable.

Additionally, my in-laws were using the computer primarily as a web browser, so there wasn’t any valuable information lost and there isn’t a huge list of applications to reinstall (Actually, AVG Anti-Virus Free, Firefox, Thunderbird, and VLC represent the entire installation suite).

Updating the various drivers could have been easier, but that is Dell’s issue. I am thankful that they keep the driver database online–but there should be an easy way to download and install all driver updates in one step.

The frustration with Windows comes in the actual installation of the operating system itself. Windows requires confirmation before, during, and after the installation of nearly every component. After the OS is installed (XP, in this case), you then have to suffer the downloading and installation of nearly 100 windows patches…some requiring confirmation. As a result, even with “auto update,” you can’t just “set it and forget it.” In the end, a simple restoration of the OS requires nearly a day of clicking, waiting, and so on. This is one of those things that makes using Apple products such a joy. Apple bundles all the updates in major service updates, meaning that if you ever have to install the OS again, you can download one file after installing the core OS which includes all of the updates to that point. And when you install the updates, you agree at the front end of the process and everything else is automated, unless a restart is required.

I started the installation last night around 6pm. The process stopped in the middle of the night, waiting for me to click a button. It is now 9:45, and just now XP service pack 3 is installing on the laptop, and I bet there will be additional updates after SP3 is up and running.

Although I work on Microsoft PCs (our school is Microsoft-only), we no longer have any Windows products in our home. My Dad continues to support Microsoft PCs of all varieties (he even sees pre-XP units now Md then) including Windows 7. He says that the OS installation/update process is still as frustrating as it has ever been. Sometimes it has to be okay for a company to copy another company…an easier, less frustrating process for Microsoft OS installation mimicking Apple’s would be a welcome change for people that service Windows PCs.


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