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Monday, 11 February 2008

Having problems with Windows Vista? I have a few and they are not trivial. It only takes a few days to resolve them, but they demonstrate that Microsoft takes its customers' goodwill for granted because they don't alert you to the dangers and inconveniences before you install.

Installation is not trivial. Mine took over two hours. During this time the computer reboots multiple times. This means that most people would want to wait until the weekend before installing. But caution is required: Microsoft's help line is not staffed on weekends.

The main problem is that Vista deletes your Internet provider's settings in the version of IE included on the operating system DVD. In my case, this meant a call to Optus in order to retrieve critical POP3 details: a twenty-minute delay prior to use.

The old email client is deleted, too. Microsoft has a new default email client called Windows Mail which, when activated inside Vista, knows where to find the old files, but it's not an expected feature. Microsoft should tell Vista buyers beforehand that this change will be made regardless of user preference.

Worse, especially for those, like me, whose computer may routinely be used by another individual, is the 'Welcome Center'. This cheerful little viewer is 'on' by default and appears when you start the computer after Vista finishes its installation sequence. Note the handy drop-down that shows all recently-visited websites:


Yikes!! Some of these new features are decidedly anti-marriage ...

Just imagine what would happen if your wife happened to fire up the PC one day while you were not present and was able to scroll, at leisure, through all the 'unsavoury' sites you'd visited over the past week!

The little red arrow pointing down in the picture shows where you can elect not to display the Welcome Center on start-up. This is OK, but ... it should not be an 'opt-out' feature. It should be something you elect to show, not the other way round. And it gets worse.

A little 'sidebar' feature that is switched 'on' by default is the 'Slide Show' gadget. The gadget controller sits in the top-right of the screen and, for my part, I'm yet to find the control that lets me hide it. Which I'm eager to do. That's because the Slide Show gadget displays a random sampling of stored pictures in an inch-wide viewer that sits on the desktop.

More opportunity for embarrassment. In fact, it's not just the Welcome Center that allows an unwary user to access all URLs stored during an earlier user's session online. Any panel in the new Control Panel will make this information public. It's too easy to see this stuff.

I guess the corollary to these gripes is to use a personal login. For me, living alone, this may not be necessary. A parent would want to be very sure that his or her personal settings were not visible to a child.

If the only benefit to the user from purchasing Vista is the sexy new skin, then I suggest not to buy. Rather, spend the hundreds of dollars it costs on more useful options, such as more RAM or some glossy photo paper for your inkjet printer.

Another negative, for me, was that installing Vista caused Norton Anti-Virus to be turned off. I'm not sure how I'll deal with this issue, but I do not think it should have become one.

Vista buyers: beware!!

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