Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

25Sep/06Off

It Won’t Ever Go Away Even After Silver Bullets Are Fired and Stakes Are Driven Through Numerous Hearts

Having far too much experience (ha! get it?! ha!) with the various shortcomings and features that are worse than the problems they attempt to fix Rob Pegoraro's summary of five years of suffering through Windows XP is pretty amusing in a cringing way like watching a YouTube video of someone getting plowed in the groin with a shovel handle: it's funny because the pain is resonant with my own experience.

One of the points that never crossed my mind that Pegoraro brings up is the willingness of users to let updates slide out of fear that WGA will cripple their OEM purchased systems. Ouch. I suppose I'm too accustomed to dealing with site licensed copies of XP to have really thought about what a conundrum this represents for most single license home users. What is the preferable choice here really? You can follow a how-to available online that may or may not work, depending on how your individual machine is set up, or you can opt for the cyclical pattern of simply pulling a back up and reinstalling whenever Windows starts complaining about something being amiss. That is a tremendous time sink although it may be one that Windows users at home (especially those who tend to tinker with their systems above and beyond the usual web browsing and email sending expectations that MSFT has for home users) are accustomed to by this late date. I wonder how many people are now completely unwilling to run Windows Update simply because it now lies to you about the actual content of patches instead of just randomly breaking applications and areas of the operating system. It makes one long for the days of simple self implosion.

One point that Pegoraro brings up that produces nothing but winces and nervous glances around the room is the unavailability of System Restore from the default installation. It is buried a couple of menus deep but I'd prefer if it were sealed in a lead box deep under the surface of the Earth. Nothing in Windows is more accommodating to either spyware or viruses than System Restore. I guess it made a nice window decoration (I kill me) to reassure folks that they could actually extract their useful stuff or files that they needed first thing in the morning for the wreckage of a downed system. The bad part is the malware authors have also been keenly aware of the promise of Windows Restore since it was birthed by a combination of a pentagram chalked on some board room floor in Redmond and the force that truly drives Windows development: inertia. I disable it by default on every machine I set up.

The domination of the registry, if you can call such a Lord of the Flies disorder any kind of systemic organization, has still not ended and there is still no useful versioning system (unless you call date stamps versioning) for DLLs. The registry would be a useful development tool but trusting your asschip to something that doesn't version libraries is a risk I am nowhere near foolhardy enough to make or lazy enough to expect anyone else to do. regedit has unfortunately become a more necessary administrator tool than any of the other management consoles corralled under the actual title "Administrative Tools" and that is bad, bad juju. What I'm really curious about is how this nightmare of hackishness is going to be circumvented in Vista. I have pretty grave doubts about the reality of this promise. This relates to another point made in the article: when will Windows do something like keeping track of what installers install? Trusting this responsibility to individual developers seems like another terrible decision waiting to strike fear into my heart on yet another day and on yet another platform.

Vista really has a lot of bad precedent to overcome and I'm guessing that feature-itis will be the true focus of the release. I imagine that hoping otherwise even if it a calculated self deception aimed at keeping us sane through just one more problem that shouldn't be or one more reinstall that could have been avoided through proper account separation is a false hope and the more we collectively buy into the marketing hype that this will be the BEST WINDOWS EVAR the more slack this gives MSFT in dealing with this and the myriad of other bugs that should be release blocking.

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