Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Friday, February 25, 2005

The SP2 Nightmare: Why I Will Never Install Or Buy Again A Microsoft OS

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I am sincerely dismayed.
This Microsoft thing is just a nightmare.


Not that I didn't know before...but when you hit your nose head into a thick glass wall you tend to realize with greater depth that what looks transparent maybe just as hard as steel.
What happened?

One week and two days ago, I went out to buy a new laptop as my beloved "Gerbera" had suddenly died of multiple cancerous infections which gradually disabilitated it to the final bliss.
Gerbera was a nice, sleek and sturdy Pentium III laptop, which I had been having as my best partner for the last 4 years. The over usage and the adventurous life I had taken it through made it look like a scientist/hacker machine, with key parts glaringly missing from the chassis and internal mechanics taking a tan when outdoors.
No, it wasn't that bad, but it definitely showed that someone had had some intense use of it over extended periods of time.
So, Gerbera had been clearly announcing her nearing the moment of passage and coincidence wanted that the day after I went out to buy a new Centrino laptop with which I am writing now, Gerbera felt ready for her definite good bye.
With the extensive needs for writing, testing, reviewing and photographing of the screen that I do for my online profession it is of the essence for me to work on an English version of any operating system/computer I buy.
So, before going out to buy the new laptop, I alerted, my PC technician that I would have needed is intervention to prepare the new computer with an English version of the Windows XP software that the computer forces me to use.
Yes, forces me. My first request was in fact for re-installing my Windows 2000 Pro on the new PC while hoping to benefit from the extra hardware resources (more memory, extra hard disk space, larger screen, etc.) while continuing to operate on my system of preference.
My choice of resisting to further Windows upgrades was also dictated by a long, moderate but steady stand on not wanting to upgrade my PCs beyond Windows 2000. The reasons were dictated by my general critical stance against some of Microsoft practices in gathering data from any PC connected to the Internet in non-transparent ways. I have also been frustrated with the company strategy of not wanting to support and respect open standards on the Web. I have been dismayed by this company having created lots of incompatibilities issues and lock-in situations were alternatives or competitors were made powerless by imposing proprietary standards by virtue of pervasive marketing propaganda hiding any of such now better understood truths to the public at large.
But back to the new laptop. On Tuesday, last week my PC technician "Sambu" took the new yet to be unpacked laptop and took it to his lab to prepare it.
After 4 days and EU 240 (circa USD 300) "Humphrey" (that's the new name of my laptop) the new computer came back but without Windows 2000 Pro in English. Sambu told me he wasted lots of time in attempting a Windows 2000 Pro install but that results showed that my Toshiba Satellite MX-30-125 did not support that OS.
Talk about lock-in?
So, he had decided to proceed in installing what I had considered a dreadful OS, one that more than any other one could have paved the way for further intrusions into customer privacy and locking users further into whatever DRM-connected plans Microsoft is laying out for its next OS.
I understand that these are in the eyes of many only paranoid speculations, but my role here is not the one of the passive consumer echoing whatever the big media and Bill have been telling you. My role is exactly the opposite one: one of an skeptical explorer, investigator and commissioner asking unpopular questions.

In any case you can't deny the fact, that starting April 12th 2005 you will be all locked into Microsoft SP2-to-Longhorn strategy with absolutely no bridge behind you.

Slashdot wrote about it two days ago:

"Beginning April 12, 2005 Microsoft will remove all temporary blocking of Windows XP SP2 by automatic update and Windows update which it has granted to those organizations that requested it.

So unless you run Software Update Service (SUS), chances are you will get a mix of SP1 and SP2 running at the same time. Let's just hope you (don't) have these programs that are known to experience a loss of functionality when they run on a Windows XP Service Pack 2-based computer and these programs that seem to stop working after you install Windows XP Service Pack 2 patched, upgraded, or removed. Might be a good time for help desk personal to pencil in a week (or two) of vacation."

You really better give a good look at that list before it's too late to take countermeasures. I tell you, many of you, won't like it. But what can you do? Do you have a choice in your wonderful Windows world?

Wanna talk again about lock-in?

Once you spend serious time reading and researching in some depth the true stories and data facts behind past Microsoft initiatives like Palladium, NGSCB or even Windows Update, you will see that after all it isn't that bad that there are a few radicals like me asking extra questions and exposing what doesn't fit the massified Microsoft consensus.
I may be wrong on some takes, but I play a reporting and researching role that is driven only by a sincere desire to have open access and support for open standards by all players in these industries.
In the meanwhile, Sambu had gone ahead in installing the whole dreaded carnival of Win XP Pro on Humprhey and topped it with a creamy dose of SP2 (Service Pack 2), the new XP super patch that is a new operating system in itself. So, without even realizing it, I had been upgraded twice into Microsoft evolutionary path without having had the opportunity to say "Hey...what are you..."
Smiled at the adversity is what I have long learned, but seeing the new baby taking over 4 minutes just to start-up was a bit too much for me to digest, especially after 3 days of waiting and the god dose of money already spent to get into this sticky mud.
I told to Sambu that I wasn't happy with the PC and that I would not take it in such condition. He suggested to take off SP2 and cross our fingers.
It worked.
Or at least it looked like it did.
A few hours later at home I was tearing my hair off, as the OS was crashing under all kinds of problems and issues.


This is not to say that the OS was bad, defective or infected, but that these are true happenings that a person like me, not exactly a computer novice, had to go through to get a new PC to work.
Imagine if I had been my mother or my uncle, which see computers as typewriters!
What would have they done if they happened to fall in my same situation?
Read on.
Sambu finally raises white flag, while officially declaring he is out of the loop. He has delivered his job and if I want he can take the PC to the lab for another few days (and $$). I very impolitely reply: "no thanks".
So, I spend the whole of last Sunday, from 9am to past midnight to try to recover the PC myself, by doing everything in my knowledge to clean, protect, test, disinfect and patch the misbehaving OS.

Windows cannot find its own files it has just downloaded

Nothing at all.
PC is unstable, slow, clearly affected by other installation issues, incompatibilities with my software, drivers, or something else. I re-install the system, update it through the Microsoft site, add SP2 as recommended, but at every step I encounter more problems.

Hey, again, I am not blaming Microsoft. I am just wondering what kind of degree one needs to have to change his bloody operating system (assuming you know what that is) into an English version one without throwing away a week of time and a few hundred bucks.

(relax Robin, come on...)
The next morning I am fully stressed as the PC is now in an infinite loop.
I give up.
I go back to the office and start to re-establish my online identity and data flow through my main desktop-based PC on duty.
In the meanwhile I call my brother Giovanni, who is a kind of technical support chief in a large international bank, and confess to him all my XP sins.
He keeps very cool and offers to come over in the evening to try to set this straight for me.
Before confirming the time, he clearly explains to me that the times when you could install a new OS like you do on a Mac are long gone. The jungle that the Internet has become, particularly in the last 1-2 years has made it a critical requirement for ANY user to become aware of many technical security issues and to have the skills to support the requirements that such a dangerous environment requires.
I said: "But I am a normal person. I want to use computers to write, design, illustrate, search. I don't want to become a PC technician. I have a Ferrari and I want to drive it. Do I need to know how to build it or how to fix the engine in it in order to drive it to work on a daily basis?"
He smiled, and kept it even cooler. He said:

"Today, if you use a Microsoft operating system, you have no way out. Either you are aware of these things and you configure and protect your PC to work under these conditions, or you are mathematically destined to have serious issues once you connect to the Internet."

"But my mom? My sister? My uncle? How can they master all these technical issues you are illustrating me? How could they have gotten out of the situation I am in, all by themselves?"
He smiled softly and went on like a tank.
He said:

"There are three things essentially that you need to do to make your PC work in a reliable and safe mode:
1) Have SP2 and all the latest critical Windows Updates installed.
2) Have a good and always updated antivirus program running with a real-time scanning option on your PC. Free ones do not do their job (and I can fully confirm that this is more than true).
3) Have an anti-spyware software that is always updated and that monitors in real-time your system vulnerabilities.
Once you have these things in place, you must make sure that they are updated to the latest "signatures" and that they auto-update themselves as soon as there are new threats being identified in the wild.

He then went ahead to clean up my PC completely, reformatting and repartitioning the hard disk, re-installing Windows XP SP2 from the CD and with the PC disconnected from the Internet. Added all of the Toshiba dedicated drivers one by one and finally turned on the new Windows XP SP2 firewall. He finally added antivirus (eTrust from CA) and anti-spyware (Microsoft Anti-spyware) of his preference.
He connected to the Internet updated each one of them, and rebooted.
The PC run like a breeze. Fast startup, prompt response, no errors.

I was delighted.
But only for a few minutes.
In October 2004 I had bought at the Microsoft official store on the MS campus in Redmond a full MS Office Professional 2003 in English.
I had given the CDs to Sambu during the initial setup attempts he made to it, so that he could have pre-installed the Office suite on my PC prior to returning it to me. Though he did in fact install Office Pro 2003 on my PC twice, the first time was with Windows 2000 Pro which he had to take down right after, and
a second time when he installed the outperforming Win XP on my laptop.
It was now the moment to install back my brand new Office software, and so I took out the CDs once again.
Completed the installation, a Microsoft dialog box greeted me to "activate" my software otherwise key functionalities would have been automatically disabled after a number of days.
"Sure" I said, let's activate!
To add injury after insult the CD now replied: "You have exhausted the number of installations available to you and this software key functionalities will be disabled in 30 days.
If you like you can give us a paid call to Microsoft in the US and we will happy to help you.
.... (lots of magnesium)
Today, I am setting up a powerful Powerbook G4 laptop next to Humphrey thanks to the generosity and great co-operative spirit of some of my best Sharewood friends.
Microsoft has lost all of my trust, respect and credibility for being a company that cares about his customers. At least when these are individuals and not large international corporations.
Not that I had any before, but now I have shit splattered all over my desk, and it stinks. This is bad business, bad promotion, bad marketing and bad customer service.
If you can, trash this operating system now.
Throw it in the same garbage can as your TV.
That's where they belong.

Photo credit: Myles Davidson
and, Think with your head.

Readers' Comments    
2006-10-11 15:08:48

Barry Todd


I feel for you and your dismay, however, you brother was totally right. He proved that the computer was running just fine. The problem you had was with the so-called techie Sambu. If he was worth his salt, he would have known about Microsoft products and their attempts to prevent theft and fraud. All Microsoft was doing was trying to keep its property (Office 2003) from being illegally used on multiple computers which is against the end user liscense agreement. Trying the different OSes caused this problem. By the way, it's not Microsoft's fault that Toshiba did not write drivers for its hardware that work with Windows 2000 Pro. So, don't say Microsoft is locking you into XP SP2. It's a cost issue. Windows 2000 Pro is old. Why spend lots of time and money on programers to write drivers to support old OSes? Like your brother said, if you are going to use a product, at least get to know it alittle before you throw it out to the trash. This is just an example of how our society wants everything fast and easy. Nobody wants to learn how to use things anymore. Case in point, how many kids can actually figure out change from a transaction these days without seeing it on the cash register screen. We've become lazy and lazier.

2006-03-01 07:56:06

Bill Gates

I don't care if you don't like my O.S.

2005-03-02 12:04:01

Robin Good


let me thank you publicly for your being always so alertd to wat is happening about Microsoft (what is your tracking formula? A Bloglines persistent search? PubSub? both?), timeliness, and generous helping hand.

It is not the first time you have offered it and I sincerely appreciate you coming forward to do this.

No matter how much money you get from Microsoft, or how fake some of your comments may be, I like your coherence and true availability. That is what counts for me.

Thanks also for being a uniquely rich resource of news like this very relevant one you have kindly forwarded to me.

Yes, Apples sucks too, sometimes.

2005-03-01 23:50:05

Howard Rheingold

Great, great, great editorial, Robin.

BTW, the one app you absolutely must have for the Mac is CopyPaste. TMOT!

2005-02-28 20:27:56

Marc Erickson

I understand your dismay. I also have a new laptop that doesn't support earlier versions of Windows properly - a concern for me as I'm a technician who is required to repair various Windows versions. I make no apologies for Microsoft - I hate their business ethics and as a corporation they are arrogant and difficult to deal with.

I would like to make some points which may or may not be of use to you.

1) Your technician should not have proceeded with an XP install on your new laptop without asking you first. That was an express violation of your instructions - and as such, a change like that must be confirmed by the customer. I certainly would have given my customer the courtesy of a phone call asking for permission to make such a change - which (possibly) would have given you the opportunity to return the laptop to where you bought it for a refund as it would not support your OS of choice. Which might have led to a search for a new laptop that supports Windows 2000 - I don't know for sure, but I suspect that there are still some available. I like Windows 2000 - it's slower to boot than XP, but is set up correctly (for the most part) out of the box and will run OK on slower hardware than XP. I spend 5 minutes setting up an XP box to the way I want it (basically the Desktop as it was in earlier versions of Windows, plus a few convenience and security tweaks) - and my !
mouse moves pretty fast, so it takes most others ten or fifteen minutes to make the same changes - provided they know where those settings are at.

2) Service Packs in Windows are required updates. They contain fixes (mostly security related) that are not released in any other way (e.g. in the hotfixes in the Security Bulletin releases) and they are tested more thoroughly than hotfixes are so there is a much lesser probability of them causing problems on your computer. If you don't apply them you are leaving yourself vulnerable to the virii that are written to take advantage of those vulnerabilities and relying on your antivirus program to protect you from them. Given that antivirus programs have a spotty record of protecting against unknown viruses (less than 50%), and that many viruses today are written to take control of an infected computer and turn it into a spam spewing robot for someone else's profit, can you afford not to apply a Service Pack?

3) Yes, Microsoft is collecting more information about its customers than it used to - and, yes, their record is not good. They've had Hotmail servers broken into more than once - and can you really trust that they'll do what they say they will with the information that they collect - given their predatory business practices?

HOWEVER. It seems to be the way of the world that privacy is diminishing - more rapidly than ever. It used to be that most persons didn't even have a last name. During the American Civil War (ca. 1861? I'm not sure of the date - I'm Canadian), the Union army was actively soliciting recruits with cash bonuses and a number of Canadians would go down, enlist, get the bonus, desert, and then enlist again at a different location to get another cash payout. A similar ruse would be difficult or impossible to do today because of the supporting paperwork required and the cross-checking done. My country has considered a national identity card that includes biometric identification (fingerprints, photos, iris scans, etc.), the US has tightened up ID requirements for air travel since 9-11, etc....So it seems to be the trend. I try to protect my privacy - but I also give it away freely to enter contests to win prizes - so I'm not too much different from most people in that way.

I would suggest Linux as an alternative - if you can find a laptop that will run it (HP makes one, and IBM might also - the choices in laptops that support Linux are much more restricted than desktops). I'm a big fan of open source software. Those folk are only interested in one goal - software that works well to do a particular job - and are exempt from most of the pressures that a commercial software company suffers from (they have troubles of their own - but I'm convinced that those are less in number and in severity than the ones commercial companies suffer from). Of course Linux offers fewer software/hardware choices and a steep learning curve, but maybe those aren't too disadvantageous for you.

4) As far as reduced functionality of some programs with Service Pack 2 goes, I say GOOD! Perhaps Microsoft should have warned its software partners earlier of the changes - on the other hand, how would those companies have updated their customers' software so that the applications would not break? Microsoft has finally realized that it has some responsibility to protect their customers' computers and the data on them. Windows computers have almost always required the user to run as an Administrator to obtain proper functionality of the software running on that box. This is the same as running as 'root' in the Unix or Linux world - it means that, if a program starts, it runs with all of the privileges available to an unrestricted user of that computer. This is obviously a bad idea for viruses and spyware for example - it means that a program, once started, is free to do what it wants.

To be fair to Microsoft - they have been focused on making computers easy to use - and they really aren't. They are decision machines! A user has to make a myriad of decisions just to start the thing up - the fact that the decisions have been preselected for them does not negate the fact that decisions are being made. And guess what? Most people cannot make those decisions in an informed manner. They either aren't intelligent enough to understand the implications of the choices made, or do not have or do not wish to take the time necessary to understand them. Microsoft focused on making an OS for a computer that my mother could use (she learned how to email and search the Internet at age 64, having never done anything technical in her life!). Having done that, Microsoft had the problem of a HUGE user base that had to be migrated to a more secure way of doing things - when (it appears) that most users can't even read a pop up box and a license agreement to avoid install!
ing spyware on their computers.

I don't think that the Windows Firewall goes far enough - I install ZoneAlarm or Sygate Personal Firewall on every customer's computer that I can - but at least there is some sort of firewall on the box and it is restricting access from the Internet to the computer. Linux has a firewall built in - and yes, Windows should have had one two or three years ago - but at least there's one now.

5) I have to say that I don't have much respect for your tech. I feel it is my responsibility to deliver a properly functioning computer to my customer. Windows XP (except maybe a 233 MHz Pentium with 64 MB RAM) shouldn't take four minutes to boot - it boots more quickly than Windows 2000 does. If he was to install XP on your laptop, he should have made sure that it booted properly - or have started over.

When I set up an XP computer, I do not connect that computer to the Internet until the latest Service Pack is installed and a firewall and an antivirus program with current antivirus definitions are installed. I then update the antivirus software to the latest version (if needed - typically Norton has two or three rounds of updates) BEFORE visting Windows Update to download and install all of the required patches. In Canada we have the best broadband Internet access in the world so I can do this online easily - but your tech should have all of the Windows patches (at a minimum) downloaded and recorded to CD. I subscribe to the Microsoft security mailing list, which allows me to get the patches as soon as they're available and track which ones are current - but if you don't want to go through that effort, this website tracks what updates are needed for Windows XP and 2000, Office back to Office 2000, and server flavours of Windows - plus the software components of these pr!

Furthermore, your tech should know how to slipsteam a Service Pack so that an install is done without having to do a lot of updates. There is a wealth of information on the Internet and the Microsoft website as to how to do this - and the techniques for integrating a Service Pack into a Windows installation CD are the same as the ones for integrating the patches (hotfixes). Yes, it takes some time on the technician's part - BUT THAT'S WHAT I'M BEING PAID FOR! I'm supposed to save my customers time and money by doing my job as efficiently as possible. I have copies of the popular 'flavours' of Windows (upgrade, OEM, retail, Home, and Professional) for Windows 2000 and XP, with the patches and Service Packs integrated into the installation CDs. When I need to do a fresh install on to a customer's computer, I haul out the appropriate CD, use it along with the customer's Product Key (serial number), and away we go! (It makes my job more interesting and rewarding when I can!
do this for them - furthermore, it saves me time that I can either use for myself or on another appointment.) Not doing this in order to make some extra money is dishonest - and will come back to haunt you eventually...

6) Your brother is right about a Microsoft computer that is to be connected to the Internet (hey, if you never connect it to the Internet, no worries! The days of floppy-spread viruses are gone - and the only reason to have an antivirus program on your computer would be if you access files on that computer from CDs recorded on another computer). But I think that he's wrong about free antivirus programs. AVG has some nice features and seems to do a good job - and avast! scans some files in real time that Norton does not! I personally use avast! on one of my computers and install it on my customers' computers who don't have an antivirus solution installed - and I will be installing it on my other computers as their subscriptions for the Norton antivirus updates expire. No antivirus program catches everything - if you are especially concerned you can do online virus scans on the Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro, and Computer Associates (eTrust) websites (it's not a good idea !
to have more than one antivirus program installed on your computer).

7) "But my mom? My sister? My uncle? How can they master all these technical issues you are illustrating me? How could they have gotten out of the situation I am in, all by themselves?"

They couldn't. Computers are, by definition, technical. Macs have fewer problems, but that's only partially due to the fact that they are more tightly controlled (Apple has always - except for a short period of time in the 90s - manufactured the hardware so they know exactly how it will interact with their software). The Mac user base is somewhere between 3% and 10% of the total base of personal computer users - depending on who you talk to. I tend to believe around a 5% figure - as the amounts over that are in a school or computer lab situation and are not being used by owners and are maintained by professionals. Regardless of the figures, the facts are the Mac population on the Internet is much smaller than the Windows one - and people looking for systems to compromise go for the easier targets - especially if that's the OS they know - which likely is the case. Hey, if I was to try breaking into a computer on the Internet or writing a virus for one, I'd do it on/for !
a Windows computer - I wouldn't have a clue as to where to start on a Mac! I can barely surf the internet on a Mac!

The computers we are using today have more computing power than the ones used in the Apollo space program - it's not surprising that they require some tech knowledge to use safely. You are required to be examined as to your competence and fitness (health) before you are allowed to operate a motor vehicle - I think that wouldn't be a bad idea for Internet connected computers (of course, you couldn't effectively monitor that - you'd have to test every computer owner).

7) Auto-update of AV, anti-spyware, etc. is nice - but not strictly necessary so long as you remember to do it regularly! I think that it's required for antivirus - given that it's a pain to remember to update the AV every time you want to check your mail - but for antispyware programs it's only necessary just before a spyware scan is done (or on a weekly or biweekly basis for the protective antispyware programs). I recommend and use to clean my customers' computers:

Removal Programs
Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition
Spybot Search & Destroy

Protective programs:
Spybot Search & Destroy (it has that function, too)

The only paid program I recommend - and you can use it free for thirty days before buying (useful if you need to clean up an infestation) is Webroot Spysweeper.

8) I sympathize about the activation "feature" of your Office software. But if you call them and explain the situation, they will be very helpful, not give you any static, and activate your software - at least if my experience with Windows activation is any guide. I think that Product Activation punishes those customers that decide to be legal and does not hinder the pirates unduly - but hey! Microsoft's STILL not making enough money... ;-)

Best regards,

2005-02-28 19:56:49

Robert Scoble

Charles: I don't do that just for Robin. My cell phone is on the home page of my blog. I'm happy to help out whenever possible. I know a lot of people inside Microsoft and will do my best to try to take care of anyone's problem.

2005-02-28 01:37:25


Sorry but I agree that your computer tech needs a good kicking in the you now what. I am a computer tech for a small company in the uk. I have installed all versions of windows on various machines without any of the problems that your tech appears to have run into. Windows can be very troublesome on some systems but if you take your time and be aware of what you are doing then you should not encounter the kind of problems your tech has. I might add here that I would definately be out of a job if I let any pc or laptop leave our premises that was not configured correctly and running the way that our customer required. We run a strict no fix no fee policy and I have never been not paid for setting up windows on any pc or laptop.


2005-02-27 20:42:54


Got Linux?

2005-02-27 20:14:58

Phoebe Bright

I did enjoy reading of your trials and tribulations from the safety of my Mac. Not that that I havn't wanted to throw it out the window too on occassions, and have even wavered when it was time to buy a new computer. But stories like these just convince me that I am best off where I am for the moment. Mind you, if some new company comes along with a simple, streamlined, robust, flexible, frugal and useable system with no bells and whistles, I'll switch in an instant.

Good luck with your Mac.

2005-02-27 06:01:28

Marlene Leurquin

Well Jeff Partridge, Here's one Over a "certain age" female who doesn't have trouble coping with OS's and etc. I just plain don't like Microsoft's ways of doing business. Yep, Bill's a genius (a marketing genius) but he never developed any of the older systems. The GUI known as Windows was leased for years and only bought a few years ago.
By the way, I'm still running ME. It runs better than 98 SE when you know what to do with it. It's very stable and I have had only 1 blue screen in over 8 months. All it takes is a tiny little program written by Steve Gibson to accomplish this.

The reason women have trouble with this stuff is teachers with attitudes like your's. I had one of them once. I just ignored his bigoted ways and blasted his grading "curve" all to "h". He even complained about it. But you see, by then I was "a woman of certain age", old enough not to allow myself to be intimidated by someone with your attitude.

By the way, I'll be 70 this year.

2005-02-27 05:01:43

James Tinsley

Well Robin, you have hit the nail on the head.

This is what I have been saying since Win 95.

MicroSux is the scourge of OS's, but unfortunately because it is the business "standard" we are all getting the royal shaft.

I'm using ME, which is by far the absolute worst OS MS has ever screwed us with, but I refuse to upgrade (or downgrade) to XP for the simple fact that I will not ask permission from MS just to install the OS that I bought and paid for. And as much as MS OS's crash, and as much as I upgrade and replace components, I would have to get their permission every other month.

If I had my druthers, I'd still be using W-98SE, which I think was the best of all their OS's, even with all of it's bugs. But sadly, my computer wouldn't agree with 98. The only reason I haven't bailed to Linux is because they don't have all the drivers I would need for my system, plus all the megabucks I have invested in PC software. I'm waiting to see what Longhorn is going to be about and upgrade to it if it isn't as wacky as XP (eXtremely Painful).

And let's talk about MS Customer Service and Tech Support, or lack thereof. MS Techs most often used solution to problems is "Reinstall Windows". And if you can get by the language barrier of the Tech, your doing good. Somehow India's technicians didn't excel in the English language, and since I speak English and bought the English version of Windows, I expect a techie that speaks my lingo and can actually troubleshoot a problem without the "reinstall Windows" solution. And by the way, so far every time they have told me to reinstall Windblows, I eventually discovered the solution and fixed the OS without a reinstall.

And when the OS warranty runs out, I shouldn't have to pay an outrageous troubleshooting fee if the tech can only speak pigeon English and not even resolve the problem. MS makes millions on tech support fee's every year. We have to pay for their sloppy OS troubleshooting!

I look forward to the day that Linux, or any other open source OS puts MicroSux out of business. But that's most likely just a far away dream.....

2005-02-27 02:31:49

Brandon Paddock

It seems to me that the problem wasn't with the computer or OS, but rather with "Sambu" your technician.

Installing Windows 2000 Pro on that machine is a breeze. The necessary drivers are easily found on the internet (and all Windows 2000/XP drivers are compatible across both platforms).

Why would you want Windows 2000 Pro on a new computer (which I'm sure must have come with XP) is mind-boggling.

You can very easily make Windows XP work and feel exactly like Windows 2000. Except, there's no way I know of to reproduce Windows 2000's unbelievably long start-up sequence (most every Windows XP machine I've seen starts up in under 15 seconds, some much faster).

All I got from this article is that you're an irrational person who has made a poor choice of technical advisors. Other than that, nothing to see here...

2005-02-26 22:40:32

Jeff Partridge


Your story is one that is so full of attitude that I would hardly know where to begin commenting.

I suppose that much of your angst derives from your being outside the US, since activation by phone is a toll-free call, here.

The rest of your experience sounds eerily familiar. I run into the same kind of problems and mind-set with every woman 'over a certain age' who tries to deal with personal computers, but without the technical background to really get into them.

That sounds sexist, but I'm reporting that as an observed statistic.

It's a shame, because with the work your brother did, the machine should have worked fine, no matter what you added on.

My own first experience with SP-2 was at least as horrible as yours, but being a long-time geek at heart, it only slowed me down. Now the patch is in place on both my systems and everything is running as it should have in the first place.

It happened that I was doing a major system upgrade and hardware reshuffle at the time, so reinstalling XP wasn’t a big issue.

Still, my comment stands- I’ve seen just your level of frustration and anger from any number of the (for want of a better tag) middle-aged female readers.

All of them, including my wife, seem to have some fundamental misconnection with technology and computers in general. I’m at a loss to explain it, so all I can do is report on it. Now, if you’d mentioned your Apple-ish intentions to ME before you bought the system, I would have presented some rather intense, but logical reasons why buying Apple is a bad idea.

They have nothing to do with the user experience, but are centered on other objections.

Ah, well, too late now.

That’s not to say that I think Windows is without problems. Far from it. It simply represents the majority of personal computer users around the world. If Microsoft’s Longhorn has been done right, then it should change the computing experience in a big way.

We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.

At the very least, it will be more secure, out of the box.

Since it was written during a period when Microsoft was perfectly well aware of the importance of security, it has to be better than XP.

Apple, on the other hand, threw out their previous operating system, took an open-source form of Unix, and customized it into OS X.

Unix has always been fairly secure, but OS X has its own vulnerabilities.

We’re seeing more and more exploits of Apple systems as time goes on.

The big difference in the present is that there is very little security software available for the Apple OS. I certainly advise you not to let your guard down.

I’m still wondering if someone at Toshiba told you the machine was incompatible with Win 2k. I have a hard time believing that. I should mention that another thing I’ve noted about that certain class of woman is that there are endless lines (so it appears) of nasty men just waiting to take advantage of their ignorance. It upsets me in a very fundamental way, since I hold myself to very high ethical standards. The less people like that around, the better off the human race is.

One last note- if you still own the Toshiba and run WIndows, don't stop now. The Windows firewall is no more than a place-holder. I would have your brother download and install the ZoneLabs ZoneAlarm free firewall. It's much better and is as cost-effective as the Microsoft version.

2005-02-26 21:14:28


Hmm.. Well, I must say that I have had a completely different experience with Windows. I have been a Windows user for years and years and I feel that they are getting better over time. 98 was better than 95, 2000 better than 98, XP better than 2000. The only bump in the road was ME, which, was truly a mistake. Other than that, I really feel that Microsoft has done much more good than bad. Had there been no Microsoft.. Apple would be the ruling force and they are more proprietary than anyone.

2005-02-26 20:18:21


Oh geeeze... excuse me but

1. are you RUNNING those apps..
2. I've got lots of stupid LOB apps here and they all RUN fine with xpsp2
3. Anything that doesn't work under SP2 is a crappy program anyway.

Excuse me but get real.

2005-02-26 17:57:54

Jim Saunders

You poor thing! I just, 4 months ago, upgraded to XP from 98. I installed XP with out a problem and followed it with SP2 and the updates with out any problem. I also updated my laptop from 2000 to Xp, no problem. However, What I did was wipe the hard drives and started from scratch. Then loaded Office 2000 with out a hitch. I then copied my other programs back onto the hard drive and set them up.
I do not know why you had the problems unless you overwrote the old files with XP. I am no geek, just an "old man" learning to use my computers. However, I did follow instructions I found on the net through Lockergnome. They have some good tutorials and can lead you to others.
If an old semi "retarded" (retired) fellow like me can hack it anyone should. It just takes patients and some study.
My only problem with XP is the loose nut on the keyboard!

Yours in His service,

2005-02-26 14:02:38

Ian McCulloch

Seems like a new fad. I am in the proccess of selling my lovingly built Pentium 4, I have added a monitor and keyboard to my Toshiba laptop so it can act as a temporary desktop and it is sitting along side an amazing looking G5 iMac while I am slowly but surley transfering years of data from one system to the other.
I didn't just plunge into the change overnight, I aquired a second hand G4 power mac and tried it out for a couple of weeks. I experimented by installing up to date operating system and was truley impressed. Thats it for Microsoft! It'll save 20 - 60 minutes a day at start up downloading the latest updates from Microsoft, Norton, 3 separate adware removal and guard programs (along with "your system needs to restart") and a whole load of other maintenance tasks that have snuck into my daily routine.
KISS - Keep it simple stupid!
Mac OS from now on!
I don't think I'll be back Microsoft!

2005-02-26 12:44:38

Charles Lindborg


do you do that only for Robin?

What about everyone else out there having the same kind of issues?

What do you recommend doing?

What about the issue with the Office exhausted installations; should Robin really have to pay a toll call to the US to redeem his natural rights?

Don't you think this is a bit excessive?


2005-02-26 12:26:28

The CynicalDoctor

I think you need a new technician to set up your PC. The chap who set it up initially obviously did not know what he was doing.
I have 2 PC's and one Laptop running XP Pro with SP2 and Office 2003 and one server running Windows 2003 also with Office 2003. All upgrades, Service packs and installations went flawlessly. If in doubt - start with a clean install and do it yourself !!

2005-02-26 09:25:04


MS is a corporation. Nothing they do is in any way "good" for the customer. Any benifit you recieve from any of their products and services is entirely coincidental. Thats exactly the way Billy boy does business.

2005-02-26 07:16:37

Robert Scoble

I'm very sorry you had such problems using our products. I wish you had given me a call, I could have gotten you some help.

By the way. I'd ALWAYS recommend keeping up with the latest operating system, even on your new Macintosh.

2005-02-25 21:30:22

Sepp Hasslberger

Robin, I loved to read your description of the installation trouble of your system, and think it is perhaps an indication of a larger scale problem, the excessive commercial control of software, which fractionates us and creates all sorts of incompatibilities.

Perhaps symptomatic for this is a recent article I came across just after reading yours.

Bala Pillai argues in this article that just like the industrial revolution, the internet had the potential to change our lives completely, but he says the opportunity was wasted, and the internet never brought about the revolution that it could have brought. He says that we missed - in the development of the internet - an important component, which was a change in the logic of enterprise.

We had people hungry for a new consumption experience, and a technology capable of delivering it. But instead of a new enterprise logic, the old adversarial business model prevailed. Internet companies scrambled for survival at their customers' expense, selling private information, chasing us with ads, conning us with low prices and high fees, and secretly monitoring our behavior. They settled for a new distribution channel when they could have made a real revolution.

2005-02-25 20:18:16

Jeremy Brayton

I used Windows 2000 Pro and XP Pro on a P3-866. The load up times by comparison were noticable: XP won. Even now with SP2, XP still wins. It's apples and oranges to me.

What disturbs me the most? You should be able to have Windows 2000 Pro on your laptop. I don't see any logical reason why you can't.

Windows 2000 Pro was installed on the computer, so technically it would work. What may have prohibited you from using it effectively were the drivers or software included by Toshiba. The graphics may have defaulted to ugly VGA if it couldn't detect your graphics card. Toshiba "extras" would probably not work very well since they're usually software applications. The sad fact is most OEMs like Toshiba make it NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE to use ANY OS without their damned drivers. So if they don't have say a Linux driver, in most instances you're screwed. Your laptop would look like crap, if you had a high display resolution you might have various issues and depending on the underlying components, half of it might not work correctly.

Where you blame Microsoft here, I blame Toshiba. Microsoft didn't lock you into XP here, Toshiba did by not offering backwards compatible drivers. Most drivers are 2000/XP which means that most drivers are made for 2000 and they automagically work on XP. To my knowledge I've never seen a driver made for XP only without it being backwards compatible but I suspect there are some out there. Windows 2000 is still a supported platform by Microsoft. It's not quite at the end of it's expected life-cycle but it is approaching it's last leg.

I think it's unfortunate that you spent $300 USD for basically nothing. Your technician should have been calling Toshiba and raising all sorts of hell. You bought the laptop not fully understanding it's REQUIREMENT for XP. Had you known you couldn't just use your SUPPORTED existing copy of Windows, you wouldn't have bothered. There was no need to buy XP, there still isn't because Windows 2000 is still being patched, hell even Windows 98 still is. Toshiba should give you your money back, or a comparable system that supports Windows 2000.

I won't say that Microsoft didn't help the situation. Maybe they do pressure their OEMs to make sure only their latest platform works on the OEM's hardware. That would seem foolish though since you're an existing Microsoft customer and that would almost be like shooting themselves in the foot. It's one thing if you're using Windows 98 which has long surpassed it's life-cycle but Windows 2000 is still fully supported.

2005-02-25 18:21:19

David Smith

Robin, I am very sorry to hear of your woes. Concurrently with your experience, I have just bought a new laptop and installed Windows XP SP2, Office 2003, AV software and anti-spy software. The difference: my installation went faultlessly. For me, this was the best ever Windows OS installation: very smooth, very fast and running without a hitch. (Having said which, product activation is a pain. Norton AV kept giving me the 'you've exhausted the number of installations available to you' routine and that's why I no longer use NAV …)

posted by Robin Good on Friday, February 25 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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