Posted by Mad Mitch on  UTC 2015-11-02 09:14

1 Windows Vista

On my deathbed I shall whisper: if only I could have the time back that I spent installing Windows Vista. The installation would run for about five hours, then display a message that the installer had detected an unacceptable item of software (no information about which) and the installation would roll back and terminate (two hours later). Check installed software, de-install one or two likely suspects. Start the process again. Yes, you guessed it: five hours, unacceptable etc., terminate.

It took me quite some time to work out that the installer wasn't just checking installed software, it was inspecting everything in the 'Program Files' folder, installed or not, to see if it was on its mysterious, unpublished exclusion list. It might, after all, be installed at some future time. In my case there was a slightly elderly version of WinZip that had been deinstalled but not removed. Five seconds delete time, six hours of Vista installation and after two days I was finally a Vista user. If existing software is a problem, why not check that at the beginning of the installation and not towards the end? The Vista Compatibility Tester had given no hint about this. Which mentally defective person in Microsoft designed this installer?

Start Windows Vista. Where the hell has everything gone? Why does my user directory now contain three versions of every folder with slightly differing names? Why am I allowed to open the 'Documents' folder but not the 'My Documents' folder, which tells me when I click on it that I am not allowed to access 'My Documents'? What the hell is a library, why do I need it, who asked for it and why can't I get rid of it? Why does the screen go dark and ask me if I am a real user when I try to run any program, even Windows Explorer? What on Earth has happened to the desktop? Why do I have to have a user picture?

2 The Ribbon

Suddenly all Office programs were given a 'ribbon'. Instead of just grown-up menus and submenus and keyboard shortcuts we had kindergarten pictures – big pictures – of, well all sorts of stuff. Usually when you clicked your way past the pictures the same old dialogue screens appeared. Office also tried to second guess what you were trying to do so that one set of pictures would frequently be replaced by another set. I had been using Office since its inception and was pretty efficient in Word and Excel. I tried for a couple of days to acclimatise to the new regime but my productivity went through the floor. Worse, you couldn't switch this feature off. Worst of all, the standard answer on the Microsoft forums to the many enraged longtime users was always the same: 'Time to move on'.

Well I did move on. I haven't used Office since that day and I am a pretty satisfied user of LibreOffice, which doesn't insult me and then require me to pay for this privilege. It still presents a simple grown up interface.

3 Windows 7

Windows 7 could have been worse. After Vista it was almost good. A third-party shell utility allows me to bypass Microsoft's toytown interface. After a day or two I got Windows 7 working more or less the way I wanted it to. There are still libraries and some other nonsense, but I have trained myself to ignore them.

4 Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

These two were no problem for me because I didn't install them. One look at the interface in the screenshots was enough to make it clear that neither of these Windows was for me. No start menu. Big clunky tiles that contained things I did not want to know or look at. A message from someone unknown who wanted to be my friend. A random picture from my snaps. NO. A thousand times NO.

5 Windows 10

I could happily ignore Windows 10 in the same way that I ignored 8 and 8.1. But Microsoft won't let me. They have chosen to violate the user's trust in the automated update system by smuggling in secret upgrades to Windows 10, preparations for the upgrade and nagging adware. Keeping your system up to date was intended to protect you from malware, not offer a route for MS to give you things you do not want. One of these secret preparatory updates messed up the video driver on my machine, causing bluescreen crashes, lost work and much annoyance until I finally worked out what was causing the problem. I now have to inspect every proposed update and parse Microsoft's deliberately obscure descriptions to work out whether to install it or not. I cannot imagine how anyone in MS could think that this was a good strategy. Very bad. Very, very bad.

If only they were honest about their Windows 10 business model. After the 'free' installation you will find, in due course, that you are merely renting a platform from MS and money will have to start changing hands. They cannot give away a complete platform with no revenue stream coming in. They will certainly not give you a choice to opt out of contributing to that revenue stream.

Leave Microsoft?

I can't. I'm trapped. I have too much software that I actively use that only runs under Windows. Changing to other programs would be a nightmare of data transfer and format compatibility. I would never move to Apple. I had five years of trying to work with various Macs and developed a deep and visceral hatred for the company and all its works. Some of the Linux distros are interesting but not serious contenders. If you just need to surf and deal with emails and look at photos then any one of them is ok. However, there is no guarantee of continuity, users have to mess around with frequent updates and changes and there is no guarantee that a particular fork will survive longer that a few months. Getting peripherals to work can be tedious and time-consuming. No, thank you.

The Anti-Microsoft Defence Strategy (AMDS):

  • Ringfence your Windows 7 computer so that you keep control of it for as long as you can.
  • Never buy anything more from Microsoft ever again, neither software nor hardware.
  • Organize your life so that within five years you will not need to have anything to do with computers ever again, at least Microsoft computers.

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