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Massive Windows Pain and Hatred

My development day is split between Windows and Linux.  I like some things about both.

But today, I'm going to gripe about Windows.  My old laptop just ate itself, so I cruised down to Best Buy and bought an AMD64 mobile machine.  It's utterly gorgeous, and runs like you wouldn't believe.  And XP makes wireless networking *work*.

Unfortunately, as with any bleeding edge laptop, the only real way to load an OS is to go with the manufacturer's drive image.  I installed XP Professional a few times with dismal results--the installer crashes, the drivers never work right, etc.--and reverted back to XP Home.

Unfortunately, that means I'm stuck with a system with Norton Antivirus, which makes installing MSDN a crapshoot.  And there's no way to actually uninstall Norton Antivirus that leaves your Windows  entirely functional.

So in the last two days, I've installed Windows four times, and MSDN five or six times, and *I still can't compile code*.

Of course, nobody's tech support will provide actual *help*, and nobody's documentation gives more than hints, and I can't even read the lousy source code.

Back to reinstall hell.  *sigh*

J. Random Hacker
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

In my opinion, your pain and hatred should be directed at the laptop manufacturer, not at Windows.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

No Brad. It is deliberate Microsoft policy to charge manufacturers much less if they only provide a ghost image and not a backup copy of the OS.

What really iirritates me is when the system restore will wipe out the whole drive, even though you have partitioned it. At least my HP Omnibook restore disk offers the ability to restore the C partition only, but the Acer I bought in 1999 didn't. Mind you, it offered to let you just install the OS, if you had remembered to copy the CD key from the registry, which is more than the Omnibook does.

How much these are the result of MS pressure, and how much the result of dumb manufacturers I don't know.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Well, I have a little bit of pain and hatred for the laptop manufacturer, mostly for installing Norton AV, which is evil.

But most of the laptop manufacturer's sins were necessary ones.  They needed to ship Ghost partition images because Microsoft's installers don't actually work on this hardware.  They needed to ship antivirus software because there's so many Windows viruses.  And it's not like there's anything non-standard in this laptop; all the AMD64 mobile systems appear to be generic motherboards at this point, relabelled by the vendors.  It's just that these systems are brand new...

My real frustration comes from the fact that most of this stuff is impossible to troubleshoot when something goes wrong.  The Microsoft installers are all so shiny, but when they fail, you're completely screwed.

But if you're feeling a bit defensive about Microsoft, watch this space.  I promise to gripe about Linux on this hardware, too. :-)

I'm kinda hard to please right now; I simply want my shiny new hardware to work, because I have a huge amount of code to write in the next month.

J. Random Hacker
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Just install some Virtual Machine with any Windows you like
and you'll never have trouble with it.

(I just realised that this is the first time in my life
I gave any sort of Windows troubleshuting advice and
because I feel so good about it I hope it will be
usefull. If not, forgive me because I really know nothing
about Windows maintanance except one thing: when
something goes wrong I just copy backup of drive image and everithing is back to normal. Blue screen of death is
something that I've seen only on a T-shirt and I write
Win32 code and use MSDN every day for almost year
and a half now).

VPC
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

"And there's no way to actually uninstall Norton Antivirus that leaves your Windows  entirely functional"

I'm pretty sure we don't make Norton Antivirus, so I'm kinda curious how this is our fault...

Anyway, standard gripe - no email address, no help. Thank you for playing!

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

"Well, I have a little bit of pain and hatred for the laptop manufacturer, mostly for installing Norton AV, which is evil."

Hmm... I don't actually have any AV software running right now.  What products should I look to for this, preferably that aren't too invasive and don't bog down the system when they scan?

Clay Whipkey
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

No Philo, you don't make Norton anti-virus. You make the code with all the security holes which makes the anti-virus necessary. The guy even said so in his post.

And perhaps you could tell us when MS stopped penalizing manufacturers that shipped a D drive which users could use to keep their data on, or even install another OS on?

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Clay, I would get some anti-virus quick!

You don't even need to pay. I've used AVG free edition for four years or more now, and never has a virus got through to any of my machines. Norton is actually more thorough in its background scan (AVG does not scan all file types with its email plug in) but as I've said, AVG has done just fine for me.

Now I always turn it off when I'm installing something, and I don't do any serious developing, but the background scan is imperceptible. When you do a full scan then it really slows down the machine, but frankly they are not necessary and can be sheduled for when you are away from the computer.

Incidentally gat a firewall as well. Again ZoneAlarm has a free version that is just dandy!

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Philo, please don't take a rant personally.  I've just lost several days of work time--when I was solidly in the groove and had deadlines looming--to do nothing but run installers 16 hours a day, wipe partitions, and screw with the registry.  This stuff is just a nightmare, and it does not leave me in a good mood.

"I'm pretty sure we don't make Norton Antivirus, so I'm kinda curious how this is our fault..."

I can think of at least three things Microsoft can do which would make this problem less painful.

* Provide a real fix for this MSVC installer problem, instead of just a workaround:

http://support.microsoft.com/?id=330733

* Stop blackmailing laptop vendors into providing ghost installers that repartition hard drives in order to do a simple reinstall.  Simply reformatting the Windows partition is *more* than enough.

* Stop allowing antivirus software vendors to break the Windows Scripting Host.  Or decide that cetain portions of the Windows Scripting Host are unacceptable security holes (file I/O, perhaps) and stop using these portions of WSH in the MSVS installers.

There are a bunch of other solutions to this problem which Microsoft could implement.  Working Windows XP Pro installers for AMD64 Mobile motherboards, better security for client-side scripts so the AV software doesn't have to break them, XP compatibility testing programs that admit they've never seen the motherboard before and have no idea whether XP will work, and so on.

J. Random Hacker
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

There must be some way to remove NAV. Have you tried doing it from safemode? Search and remove any NAV files, and then use a registry tool to scan for orphaned entries.

Anyway, I feel your pain. 

Eric Debois
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I work on and with many different laptops, and despite the fact that they all come with a 'restore disk', I can still get a standard Windows CD installed on them with no sweat. That's because those manufacturers also provide stand alone drivers.

Whatever problem the OP is having is with his manufacturer, not with Microsoft.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Well, NAV is completely off my system (Symantec has step-by-step walkthroughs listing the registry keys, script blocking hooks, etc), but removing NAV doesn't leave WSH in a completely functional state.  I've reinstalled WSH a couple of times, too.

I've also tried installing with various versions of NAV *running*, in different configurations.

If this next install doesn't work, I'm going to back up my other partition, reghost the disk, and start again.

It's actually possible to install MSVC on the manufacturer's *pristine* system image if I click through the NAV warnings manually (I did that yesterday, *before* trying to upgrade to XP Pro and completely screwing system, requiring a full rebuild today).  It's trying to remove NAV that screws me, apparently.

Of course, this whole "reghost your system and rebuild it from the ground up everytime your registry gets slightly wonky" is just a dismal maintainence paradigm.

Linux may suck in a hundred other ways, but I can always do a query against the package database, retrieve md5sums for all system configuration files, and manually reinstall individual files if something goes wrong.  (For that matter, I can often rsync a working installation between machines, replace the kernel manually, load a few new drivers, and reboot into my old system on a new computer.)

...Whoops.  The installer just failed again.  Time to back up, reghost, and rebuild the system in *exactly the right order*.  I think I've got it this time, and I should have a working Windows development system by Friday.

Everything's so freakin' fragile.  It works so beautifully until something goes wrong, and then it's impossible to fix.  *sob*

J. Random Hacker
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I also feel your pain.  I don't know if Microsoft or the hardware manufacturers are responsible for this crap but it needs to be stopped.  I bought a new acer aspire 2000 laptop a month or so ago.  I seems like a pretty good piece of hardware.  It has a 40GB drive.  It came with XP Pro with a 32GB C partition formatted with FAT32 (WTF?) and one of those useless system restore CDs.  It also had an 8GB D partition and a couple of other small partitions.  The hell I went through to get the included copy of XP Pro setup using NTFS with a decent cluster size, my preferred partioning scheme and something approaching correct security settings is almost unspeakable :-).

Doug
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

"That's because those manufacturers also provide stand alone drivers."

I've got a full set of standalone drivers.

Unfortunately, this doesn't keep the XP Pro installer from crashing repeatedly with several different bogus errors.  This is *after* allowing the installer to update itself to the very latest version on Microsoft's site.

I'm a smart cookie. I've spent close to 40 hours on this laptop in the last three days.  I've called professional tech support companies at $2.95/minute.  I've read more knowledge base articles than I care to think about.

Maybe the moral of this story is to only buy 6 month old laptops after carefully vetting them for compatibility.  But when you've got a deadline, you take what's got good specs and is on the shelf at the local electronics store.

J. Random Hacker
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Oooh.  Now I'm getting devious.  Sleep deprivation does weird things to me. :-)

Symantec Ghost is basically nothing more than 'dd' and an NTFS resizer.

Since I'm going to have to reinstall everything anyway, I wonder I could make my own partition images.  Hmm.

Time to go get my big firewire drive.

J. Random Hacker
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

So wait, you bought a laptop with a shiny new 64-bit processor (yes, it has x86-64 and is backwards compatible, blah blah) and it's Microsoft's fault that you're having problems?  No offense, but you're playing the 'early adopter' game... plan on losing some time/effort or buy a solid laptop.

Didn't you notice XP Home was included instead of XP Pro?  I assume you shelled a pretty penny and now you're pissed that you can't install XP Pro.  Go buy a Thinkpad, pre-loaded with XP/2K Pro.

...
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

-----"I can still get a standard Windows CD installed on them with no sweat. That's because those manufacturers also provide stand alone drivers."-----

But where do you get that standard Windows CD from? I'd bet that you work in a corporate environment and have Windows XP CD's that don't require activation.

The point is that Micrcosoft charge a very hefty premium to OEM's that want to give you a stand-alone Windows OEM CD. It's certainly not an anti-piracy measure, because they have long known how to tie the installation to a particular motherboard, and have product activation invollved too. It's because they want the consumer to buy a second copy of Windows when his laptop goes South, and because they want to make it as difficult as possible for you to dual boot with Linux.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

"So wait, you bought a laptop with a shiny new 64-bit processor (yes, it has x86-64 and is backwards compatible, blah blah) and it's Microsoft's fault that you're having problems?"

You know, it was on the shelf at Best Buy.  I knew I could live with XP Home Edition (our intranet is pretty simple).  And I just lost my previous laptop in the middle of a serious coding run.

Excuse me for believing that I can just buy a laptop in the store and expect it to work.  Excuse me for thinking that MSVC has been tested with the most popular antivirus software.  Excuse me for thinking that Microsoft's Windows XP Pro upgrader might actually work.  I followed all the steps in the documentation, read the READMEs, and generally took everybody at their word.

I'm wiser now.

I've obviously stumbled into some nightmare world where shrinkwrapped products from major vendors are expected to explode in my face.

Next time, I'll buy a carefully vetted laptop which is at least two years old, and install nothing on it but the manufacturer's system image and a copy of MSVC.

Just when I've almost managed to convince myself that our industry has made some progress since the days of DOS.  Bah.  Even Debian's horrible installers are starting to look professional in comparison with this nightmare, and they're broken enough to make me cry.

J. Random Hacker
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Knowing full well that XP Home sucks for what you need a pc for, why did you buy it?  You should have bought a laptop with XP Pro.  They do make them.

This is not Microsoft's fault, this is not Symantec's fault, this is not the laptop manufacturers fault.  This is the buyers fault.  The buyer bought the wrong product.

Fast, good, and lowcost.  Pick any two, NOT three.

Mike
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

"Everything's so freakin' fragile.  It works so beautifully until something goes wrong, and then it's impossible to fix.  *sob*"

Now that I've blasted J Random in a previous post, I will second this quote of his 100 percent.  It's like I say at work when Windows goes South.  You can't unflush a toilet.

Mike
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

"But where do you get that standard Windows CD from? I'd bet that you work in a corporate environment and have Windows XP CD's that don't require activation."

I have a massive Microsoft site license; almost anything I could ever want, legally, for the cost of a blank CD.  I have an *entire MSDN subscription* full of Windows CDs, sitting on my desk.  I undoubtably have the Hungarian version of Windows ME.  I have a sysadmin who's spent years of her life installing and maintaining Windows.

I have boot disks.  I have CD and DVD burners.  I have rescue disks, partition resizers, and copies of rsync.  I read all the manuals and follow all the steps.  I'm perfectly happy to give my credit card number to a professional support company.  I know how to use Google.  I've even got some modest experience writing device drivers.

All I want to do is go to the store, buy a laptop, install a compiler, check my code out of CVS, and get back to work.

</rant>

Honestly, I think the real problem is these ghosted system images that laptop manufacturers ship (and are starting to *require*, at least if you want support).  Combine these with any brand new hardware, and you've got no safety net if something goes wrong.

J. Random Hacker
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

For what it's worth, I just played the reformat-the-hard-drive-and-reinstall-everything game yesterday.  I have a Dell notebook that's about 18 months old.

Thankfully, I received a full OEM edition of XP Pro with the notebook, and the reinstallation went quite smoothly.  I have my share of gripes:

-- For some bizarre reason, the Windows XP installer prompts you for information halfway through the installation process (network information, time zones, etc.) rather than at the start or end of the installation.  This mean you have to babysit the installer instead of being able to walk away and grab coffee.

-- I had to use Windows Update five or six times untill everything was updated correctly (and had to reboot after each time.)  Certain updates have to be installed by themselves.

-- Visual Studio 2003 takes two freaking hours to install, with a wretchedly complex disk-swapping dance.  (Step 1: Install prerequesites.  Step 2: Install Visual Studio.  Step 3: Install MSDN.  Step 4: Install security updates.  Step 5: Pound keyboard in frustration.)

(Got all that, Philo?  I'm holding you personally accountable.  <g>)

However, after going through that pain, everything works.  Windows Update appears to have installed all of the correct drivers automatically, so I didn't have to download anything from Dell or hunt for driver CDs.

Robert Jacobson
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Why don't you just switch to a mac and be done with this crap?

switcher
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

"But where do you get that standard Windows CD from? I'd bet that you work in a corporate environment and have Windows XP CD's that don't require activation."

You're making the wrong point, just to try to sound smart.

The original poster is saying that he bought the laptop with XP Home, and is trying to install XP Pro on it instead. In that case, one can presume that he already has a legitimate copy of XP Pro with which to do this. Which means: What the hell difference does it make what _I_ have? We're talking about a task that I've done in the past.

Besides, I put Windows 2003 on laptops. You ever seen a laptop on the shelf with Windows 2003 on it? Didn't think so.

And, I work in a company with 5 people. You think we have non-activation versions of Windows? You're nuts.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

He stated quite clearly that he had no problem with XP Home. His problem was that he could find no way to get the default installation to work because Norton AV had disabled part of WSH and even after uninstalling Norton AV the problems continued.

Let's get this straight. The guy has bought a laptop with XP pre-installed and all he wants to do with it is to install Visual Studio and MSDN. He is obliged to buy a copy of XP Pro upgrade because of this, but there is no way that can be got to work either. And you're saying it's his fault!

Some of you are so far up Bill Gates's 'arse I'm amazed he doesn't choke.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

"Why don't you just switch to a mac and be done with this crap?"

Because Microsoft Visual C++ runs like shit on it? :-p

(I have an iBook and love it, but I recognize for what it is: a non-Windows machine, which is suited to doing anything that isn't related to booting up Windows.)

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

You're obtuse Brad. I don't care a monkey's toss where you got your copies of Windows from. What I am saying is that you didn't use the CD that came with the laptop, and the fact that you can install another copy of Windows doesn't cancel the fact that you can't use the one you have already paid for unless you restore the whole kit and caboodle.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

"This is not Microsoft's fault, this is not Symantec's fault, this is not the laptop manufacturers fault.  This is the buyers fault.  The buyer bought the wrong product."

Obviously.  But my users don't run Macs, which sorta limits my options. ;-)  I'm stuck with the dual delights of Windows and Linux.  They're like the evil twins.  If it isn't Linux power management bugs or cruddy 3D drivers, it's the Windows registry.

But seriously, educate me here.  I'm perfectly happy with the feature set of XP Home Edition (it talks to our intranet, so what do I care?).  All I want out of a Windows box is something that runs MSVC and QuickTime, and that has wireless networking.  Hey, for two years, I ran Windows ME quite happily on my development box. :-)

I have no desire to tweak my system or to know anything more than where to find the debugger.  I don't even know how to set up a Windows printer without reading the drool-proof documentation.

So given my very undemanding needs, what advantages does XP Pro actually offer over XP HE?  If necessary, I can take my laptop back to the store and get somebody to overnight an XP Pro laptop.  Is this actually justified for any reason other than my current problem?  Will a new laptop work any better than this one if something looks at the registry cross-eyed?

J. Random Hacker
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Here, download the VC++ toolkit at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=272BE09D-40BB-49FD-9CB0-4BFA122FA91B&displaylang=en

Go buy www.slickedit.com's Visual SlickEdit 9.0 and be merry on XP Home ;-)

GiorgioG
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

"Why don't you just switch to a mac and be done with this crap?"
  -- Switcher

They don't switch to a Mac because somewhere in the deep dark, dank recesses of their psyche they actually ENJOY making their machine work at least as much as they enjoy doing anything productive. They delight in having BESTED the machine.

Me, I got things to do. If my machine doesn't work, I can't get these things done. I don't get them done, that costs me money. Therefore, I use a computing appliance: an iBook.

Yes, I don't get to enjoy the sublime rush that must accompany outwitting Norton Antivirus to install MSDN. No, I don't get to brag about having installed Visual Studio.Net 2003 five times in one day. On the other hand, every window has those bloody stupid gum drops...

Jeff Watkins
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Are you also saying that installing the 1.1 .Net framework on some computers is also impossible because of antivirus/firewall software?

And I was hopping that developing applications for .Net would be less painful installations. Eh, I guess technology changes, the same problems remain.

HIDDEN
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

New plan: Get the big drive.  Get the Linux system rescue disks with the partition resizer.  Re-ghost my system.  Resize the NTFS partition down until it fits on a DVD.  Burn a copy to DVD.  Resize the NTFS partition until it takes up half the drive.  Install Linux on the other half.  Keep all my important files on Linux or in CVS, so I can restore Windows as needed from DVD if my development system eats itself.

And finally face up to the fact that even XP (which I had such high hopes for) is still the same old steaming pile of crud.  Despite the pretty GUI and all the UI engineering, it's not any more user-friendly than the dodgiest Slackware installation.

You know, I'm trying to give Windows a real chance here, to admit its real virtues.  So far, those virtues do not include installing one Microsoft software package on a brand-new, store-bought laptop without 40 hours of work.

Hey, guys: If I need to resort to using 'dd' to make an easily installable and restorable version of Windows that runs a compiler, *somebody's* failed, big time.  I just want to be an idiot user and write my pretty little programs.

(In defense of my laptop manufacturer, this box works like a *dream*--everything from wireless to hibernation is 100% operational straight out of the box without the slightest glitch, on a motherboard that can't be more than a few months old.  I've never seen a laptop with so few hardware issues.  This is the main reason I don't want to install vanilla Windows on this machine; I've never seen vanilla Windows work so well on a laptop without extensive sysadmin intervention.  If I could only get MSVC installed, this laptop could *more* than hold its own against my 6th-month-old, ridiculously overspec'd development box.)

J. Random Hacker
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

"Are you also saying that installing the 1.1 .Net framework on some computers is also impossible because of antivirus/firewall software?"

No, you're only screwed if you need to install the debugger or dev tools. :-)  The .NET framework installs without a hitch.

Microsoft's really onto something here with XP.  It's *almost* an unbelievably gorgeous product, a credit to anybody who ever touched it.  So much incredibly hard stuff works so effortlessly well.  But then something goes wrong, and you descend into hell.  As always.  Microsoft made me *hope*.  That's why I'm annoyed.  That, and the lost hours of work time when I was on a roll, banging out new features left and right.

And for the snooty Mac user upthread: Yes, I know that Windows sucks.  I'd love to own a Mac.  Macs are gorgeous.  Macs rule.  But according to the folks that do our marketing, fewer than 1% of our user base owns a Mac.

J. Random Hacker
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

How about getting a copy of VMWare and loading XP Pro and your development environment into a clean virtual machine? Run Linux side-by-side in another VM too. If you need to change machines again you only need to reinstall VMWare and restore your VM directories then you are back in business.
BTW VMWare recently dropped in price to $189.

_
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I feel your pain, bro. I really do. I've been through this kind of thing too many goddamn times and got so sick & tired of it. I've got better things to do with my life than try and be my own (and my relatives) IT dept.

switcher
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

swticher: I'm not picking on you.  Just the guy who suggested I secretly enjoy this.

Besides, if I want to enjoy a sense of technological machismo, I'll install a 64-bit Linux kernel on this box, or try to get drop shadows working under X11.  I *can* get a certain satisfaction out of outwitting a computer, but it has to be in a controlled environment, with no real need to succeed, and it has to result in something that really impresses other geeks. ;-)

There's just no bragging rights in saying, "I spent two days running installers to get a shrink-wrapped software product working on a brand-new store-bought laptop."  That's just nasty.

J. Random Hacker
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

J. Random, maybe I missed it, but why do you need XP Pro? 

You can use XP Home for Visual Studio 2003 development.  The only real limitation of Home Edition is that it doesn't officially support IIS, so it's not great for web development.  However, it should be fine for regular Windows Forms development.

Also, there's an unsupported workaround for getting IIS to run on XP Home:

http://www.15seconds.com/issue/020118.htm

Robert Jacobson
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

VMWare or VPC / Connectix is the way to go for development environments. Get an external hard drive and keep all of your virtual hard disks / images there.  You get the added benefit of being able to bring a new developer into your team and able to write code in less then half a day. For maintenence you get to go back to a customized development environment for your app, or deliver that image to whoever will be maintaining it.  Lastly, it doesn't matter if your host os dies or not, just reinstall your vm and go.  I cannot see developing applications any other way now.  BTW this also means I get to run Windows Server 2003 advanced on a laptop (thinkpad, won't run it native - VPC, no problems)

K
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The last PC I bought was a Dell, and it came with a real copy of Windows.  Before buying that laptop, I was considering a Fujitsu.  But I found that not only did they not ship a real Windows CD, they didn't even ship a "system restore" CD.  Instead they just gave you your backup software on a separate hard drive partition, which you could back up yourself...if you purchased extra software to allow you to.

I don't know if it's Microsoft pressure (but then how does Dell get away with it?) or cutting corners to save the price of CD duplication or what.  But I do know that they lost themselves a sale with an asinine policy like that.  The only thing I don't understand is why _anyone_ would buy a PC without real backup CDs.

As for the original poster, if I were him, I'd take the machine back to the store and get my money back.  And don't take any crap about a "restocking fee"; they sold you a defective machine.

Kyralessa
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

"So given my very undemanding needs, what advantages does XP Pro actually offer over XP HE? "

Well, it would get you system restore, which can be nice.  You make some good points though in your various posts.

Mike
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

god, I wish I hadn't read this thread.  Im having flashbacks.


if I had all the hours I spent trying to configure windows for various things back Id be 6 months younger.

*grin* mind you, its not all one sided, even on macs I sometimes spend up to 2 minutes looking for the correct place to configure something complicated like dialup.

the worst thing is that I still develop for windows users, we get the majority of our sales from there and _wow_ we also get the _vast_ majority of user support requests.

One day Im going to start a company that developers softwre written for only 1 version of 1 operating system, and only if it runs on 1 particular piece of hardware.

something like mac osx 10.3.4 running on the 17" g4 titanium laptop.

That will be _it_ never anything else.

phone calls will go like
"hi, Im trying to use your program and Im having a problem...Im running it on mac osx 10.3.5"

"sorry, we dont support that configuration.  bite me."

*click*

it'll never make me rich, but imagine the job satisfaction...

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Well, personally I buy machines without the CDs because I don't need them.

Don't start campaigning to make me have to pay an extra 100 quid a machine for a Windows CD I'll never use. I already have a massive pile of still-in-the-shrinkwrap versions from before manufacturers stopped being compulsed to ship it with every CPU.

The *OPTION* of having a Windows CD with every machine I'll grant you would be benefiical. But seriously; I buy machines for 150 quid (no monitor, no keyboard, no 3D card... nothing but the box) and adding a compulsory Windows CD would nearly double the price.

We've been there. We hated it.

Katie Lucas
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Let me get this straight:
- You bought some cheapass notebook of the shelf at bestbuy because you drooled over some flashy bleeding edge specs. Obviosly you didn't check the Windows XP Pro HCL, and I bet it didn't have a nice genuine "Designed for Microsoft Windows XP" logo on it. Then your pissed of at Microsoft because they didn't prevent you from being  a fool?

What do you expect: Should Microsoft have police powers to prevent hardware that is not fully compatible with its products be on store shelves? Should Microsoft have police powers to prevent other software manufacturers from releasing products that break some Microsoft product? Should Microsoft be given the powers to forbid custom imaged installs of OEM setups?

You got what you paid for, and now you are complaining that you didn't get something else. Please enlighten us with what you believe should be Microsoft's powers to prevent this.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Dear Katie, you're not getting the point. The restore CD he is talking about would not cost anything more - the Fujitusu already has XP pre-installed and keeps the restore volume in a hidden partition. This means that you have to go around and make another back up yourself, buying your own cloning software, or find some way of making the hidden partition visible and then copying that. Stupid. At least when they give you a clone, as opposed to a full OEM copy of Windows, they can argue they are saving $30-$40 but what are Fujitsu saving by not issuing a back up CD? $2?

You're talking about buying desktops to install Linux or a copy of Win 98 or Win 2000 from your old machine  on, or possibly what came with your MSDN, but try and get a laptop without a pre-installed OS, and for a lot more than £150

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Katie,

I am confused. I am certain the OS is NOT a compulsory purchase with the hardware. If you're local shop is telling you this they are lying. It is perfectly within their right to only sell bundles, but they can't tell you it is universally compulsory. Go shop someplace else.

As for your old CD's: Are you sure they weren't cheap OEM licences tied to a particular box?

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Dear Just me,
                      Can't you read what the guy is saying? He bought a laptop with Windows XP home prei-installed on it that works perfectly until he tries to install Microsoft's dev tools.

                      The reason Microsoft dev tools can't be installed properly is that they use the scripting host and that installer doesn't work with the most common antii-virus and software programs. Microsoft officially admits that the fact that their installer won't install if you have anti-virus software on the machine is a problem - what of course it really means it that it is your problem!

                      Now the guy would quite happily reformat and reinstall the OS and drivers on their own, but because of Microsoft's official policy of  applying swingening economic penalties on manufactuers who let their customers do this, he has to go out and buy a copy of XP out of his own pocket, or use the copy that came with his version of MSDN. However, he still can't access the drivers, that don't come with the standard installation of XP, because remember Microsoft penalizes companies that do anyting but provide a cloned restore CD.

                      Microsoft ought to make cars. We'd all be a lot healthier, and global warmng would suddenlty cease to be a problem.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Deat Just Me,
                    The OS is no longer a compulsory purchase with the box because MS were stopped by the courts from making that so.

                      In practise it's very hard to buy a laptop without Windows pre-installed, and as manufacturer support with a laptop is more important than with a desktop most people are screwed.

                          And companies that sell computers without OS's have found themselves in receipt of legal letters from MS, demands for full software audits, apart from being criminalized in MS advertising campaigns (remember that one about the naked PC without the OS?)

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Stephen,

the guy bought a machine that can not be installed from a standard XP Pro install disk. The manufacturer swerves around this major problem by only providing a preinstalled disk image, an image on which the manufacturer bundles other stuff that can't even be disabled or unistalled.
Apparently there even is no way to tell the app, "hey, it's OK, I am not some mallware but a legit install, so butt out".
Should Microsoft hold some power to prevent an OEM from bundeling this crap? Do you want the PC to become a sort of console universe type of setup where programs can't be sold without official approvall by the platform king?

Now I can not imagine, given the above, that the HW manufacturer can get this stuff on the HCL or pass the Designed for Windows requirements. These are the means MS have at their disposal to put some sort of compatibility requirements out there. Do you want MS to have more power? Do you want to give them the right to refuse selling Windows licences for bundeling with "unqualified" HW?

The OEM has the right to build crap, Symantec has the right to sell crap, to OEM has the right to make crap bundles, and all MS can do is refuse some logo. What do you want changed?

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, May 13, 2004

I'm a bit confused here. . . Why don't you just disable the AV software?  I don't even really know why its an issue.  I just finished installing VS.Net 2k3 on 3 machines each of which had Symantec AV Corporate 8.0 on them w/o a single problem.

Personally I don't like the fact that a regular install CD doesn't come w/ all machines.  My favorite is the Sony which has a 6Gb hidden partition that you have to backup to CD yourself if you want to be able to reimage anything.

Now I don't think this is a Microsoft thing though, because not only do you not get the MS Install CD, not a _single_ manufacturer includes their software.  I would imagine that it _is_ some sort of collective bargaining thing between the application providers and the system providers.

I would bet that the app providers don't want the user to be able to reinstall windows w/o installing their applications.  Thus by making it necessary to reimage the drives, you have to take the whole thing together.  Otherwise users may figure out that Windows Media Player is all they need, and that Real Player POS is just crapping up their systems.  Then the app providers are back in the same position as when they weren't allowed to bundle software due to anti-competitive practices, but now there is no one that they can sue without cutting off their nose to spite their face.

Elephant
Thursday, May 13, 2004

What you're in denial about is the fact that Microsoft not only encourages "this crap" but slams a hefty financial penalty on any OEM that does not do it.

What I would like changed is the legality of Microsoft being able to charge extra (nearly double I believe) to OEMs who want to issue a standard install disk.

What the OP would like is for Microsoft to test out its installers with the most common anti-virus packages.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

A good conspiracy theory Elephant, but it is a Microsoft thing. The reason no laptop gives you the Windows install disk, is that they would have to pay MS double.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

"no laptop gives you the Windows install disk"

Every Dell laptop I bought came with a Windows install CD. If other manufacturers prefere to go the preinstalled OEM way, because they think that an inferior product at a lower price will net them more profit than a superior product at a higher pricepoint, then that is their own descision.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, May 13, 2004

What about the other application providers then?  Surely they don't want you to have reimage a drive if you accidentally delete or mangle one of their programs?  For all their griping about being shut out of the OEM world, they no doubt would want to give the user every possible opportunity to re-install their software?

Now I'm _sure_ MS tests their software w/ Norton AV.  Like I said before, VS Installs have _always_ worked for me w/ Norton AV.  Don't know what's different about the OP's machine that prevents this, but I certainally have never had a problem.

Elephant
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Symantec offers on it's site an .EXE which completely uninstalls Norton Antivirus.

So, if you search the web a little more for a way to uninstall NAV, then you may find it.

MX
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Dear Justme,
                      "EVery laptop I bought." Past tense. The policy changed eighteen months to two years back. As varying people here are pointing out, nearly every laptop manufacturer now goes with the clone, and the reason is that MS charges them a lot less to do so. The only decision the OEM makes is if it wants to pay more for the install CD or not. There are not many other fields where a company would be allowed to get away with what MS does. Imagine if the electricity company charged you double for the connection if you insisted on having a door on the fuse box.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

As far as getting the install to work, various sites indicate that if you are having problems, either

a) Your NAV is not the most recent version therefore upgrade
b) Your Virus Definition file is out of date therefore upgrade

Apparantly between these two things the problems should be resolved.

Elephant
Thursday, May 13, 2004

" "EVery laptop I bought." Past tense. The policy changed eighteen months to two years back."

Last one I bought was 14 Months ago. Came with W2K Pro install CD.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, May 13, 2004

I might be interested in a half price hookup if all I was missing is a door. Then again, if e-r-us offers me a 1.000$ installation that has no door, pipes "Jingle Bells" every half hour, and refuses to let me plug in the toaster without blowing a fuse, and we-r-e offers me a nice doored, no-crap install for 1.035$, I'd give the false economy a miss.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Just me, you've been taken in. You don't get a half price hookup minus the door. You get a normal price hook up minus the door, and pay double for one with the door.

Presumably manufacturers renegotiate with MS at different times. Perhaps somebody with a new Dell laptop can tell us what came with the Home Edition version.

I suspect it's possible that you get the nstall CD with Pro, but only the cloned with home, though when I bought my Omnibook two years ago I got it with XP Pro (which was why I bought it) and it only has a restore disk (though it does let you restore the partition only so it's not totaly evil).

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Stephen, can you post a reference to a credible article that reports "price of OEM Windows doubled ~ 2 years ago"?

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Dear Justme,
                      You know as well as I do that the contract arrangements Microsoft has with the big players such as Dell, Acer, HP and others are highly guarded. We only know about them when they come out in high-profile court cases.

                      OEM editons of Windows Home come for around $80-$100. I have been told before on this forum that the big manufacturers pay around $40 for the bundle. The question is whether they are given a special price for standard OEM installs of Windows XP Home. I remember reading a couple of years ago that they were no longer offered that option, and as it coincided with the disappearing of install CD's from the big manufacturers I presumed this was the reason. It certainly can't be because manufacturers are too mean to provide another CD. The HP business desktops we have at work come with a thick bundle of manuals and CD's for everything and they take up a considerable chunk of the storeroom but it is impossible to install the OS on its own.

This is just the topic that Google won't find the articles for (I've tried but only come up with a load of adverts), but nobody has yet been mistaken thinking the worst of MS marketing policies. The fact that it coincided with the end of the ban on parititioning hard drives suggests that they were looking to find another restriction.

I suggest Brad that you go to your local computer store and look around all the big name laptops. If none of them are offering a Windows Home Install CD I would ask yourself why when it would cost them about 30 cents.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Random Hacker,
                        Are you using XP Pro service pack 1?

Does the OEM clone qualify for the update to XP Pro?

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Stephen,

I'll take that as a no.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Like knocking down Strawmen do you?

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

No Stephen,

you just don't know, speculate and can't find any info, but still you are convinced you are right because "nobody has yet been mistaken thinking the worst of MS marketing policies".

Hell, I don't know either. So you could be right, but does it not sound more plausible to you that if there had been such a drastic move, it would have leaked, and the press would have been on it like dogs with rabies on speed? You can't keep a secret between a few 1.000 people now can you?

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, May 13, 2004

"Obviosly you didn't check the Windows XP Pro HCL, and I bet it didn't have a nice genuine "Designed for Microsoft Windows XP" logo on it. "

Hey, I'm not completely clueless.  This laptop has a shiny "designed for Microsoft Windows XP" logo right below the keyboard.  It's got a whole bunch of shiny logos.

If Microsoft certifies the laptop, I expect the XP installer not to actually crash (at least if I do the installer web update thing, which I did).  I also expect it to run MSVC.  I'm just a demanding kind of guy. :-)

...

For those in the audience who are sick of those Symantec Ghost images, there *is* a workaround.  Go get this Gentoo-based system rescue CD:

http://www.sysresccd.org/

Immediately after a fresh install (you don't even need to boot into Windows first), reboot with the CD and run the graphical partition editor (qtparted) to shrink the manufacturer's partition down to something that will fit on a DVD.  Create a new FAT32 partition and mount it (mounting still has to be done from the command line).  Then use partimage to save off your vendor partition to the FAT32 volume, reboot into Windows, and burn the image to a DVD.

Then reboot back into the rescue CD, repartition the drive as desired, and set up Windows.  When and if Windows eats itself, use the rescue CD's cdcache option to mount the DVD, and use partimage to rebuild your system partition.

Yes, this is not the most user-friendly process in the world.  But the mere fact I had to resort to Linux partitioning tools to be able to reinstall Windows XP on a Microsoft-certified machine means someone has screwed up very badly.

...

For the poster who suggested upgrading Norton AV, I think you're on the right track.  I don't have MSVC working yet, but I've got a few more permutations of Norton AV options to try.

J. Random Hacker
Thursday, May 13, 2004

It did leak, if it was kept particlularly secret in the first place. How do you think I found out about it, or that MS until recently didn't allow D partitions with their bundled software.

The point is that mu Google searching skills are not good enough to find the articles I read. I keep getting prices to buy the software.

The change was not apparently that great, since the Windows install disks were linked to the motherboard anyway, but they do create needless aggravation. Re-installing Windows for example, becomes impossible.

The point is that when you buy a laptop you don't have the choices you would do with a desktop. Plenty of people would happily pay the difference to have a standard OEM disk, particularly as they could install in on their next laptop when the first one dies, but you are not offered the choice. To suggest that each individual manufacturer has made the decision individually seems much less likely, than that there is a financilal incentive from MS not to use the standard OEM route.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

"So, if you search the web a little more for a way to uninstall NAV, then you may find it."

Thanks, MX!  I've already tried about four different uninstall techniques documented by Symantec.  No luck.

J. Random Hacker
Thursday, May 13, 2004

In the UK you just buy "Computer Shopper" and "PC Plus" every month and you'll have free copies of Drive Image and Acronis on the cover DVD's and can do the job a lot easier.

I use a spare license for Ghost we have lying around, since that is what I am used to.

Just make a partition image of the whole drive, then fdisk it, and then reinstall to the manufacturers image. Or use a free partition manager, though I don't know if they are user friendly or not.

The fact that you are obliged to have NTFS is another hassle with these restore CD's. A couople of years ago, when you got proper Windows CD's you were able to choose your file system.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

JRH,

my appologies. Clearly something is messed up here. I checked the logo program requirements and it clearly states you should be able to install XP without any need for additional drivers. Clearly, even without reading this a customer finding a "Designed for Microsoft Windows XP" logo would also expect to be able to install a retail XP Pro.

It seems to me the manufacturer is in breach of the logo program requirements.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Just me: Apology accepted.

I'm beginning to think that my XP Pro install media is too old, and that the web updater for the XP installer is broken.  I did the XP Pro installation using my MSDN 2003 copy of WinXP Pro (it was late, and the site license guys had all gone home).  The hardware check said everything was OK, and I was silly enough to believe it.

If there's a newer set of retail install CDs, I bet the manufacturer is allowed to rely on those for the compatibility logo.

Nonetheless, I'm not terribly interested in XP Pro; it was just one in a series of desparate attempts to get MSVC working.

...

Ah, there's the installer, dying again.  It did install exactly once, on one of my early attempts to get this machine set up.  So there's *some* configuration of Norton AV which works; I just need to remember what it is.

J. Random Hacker
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Stephen, all that you say may be right, but as I (and others) have mentioned, there's at least one laptop manufacturer that does include a real Windows XP CD, not just a restore disk.

I like my Latitude X200, but I would have really preferred one of the Fujitsu laptops with a touchscreen.  But the fact that Fujitsu would have such a lame backup policy made me wonder what other lame policies were lying in wait that I wouldn't find out about until I was already stuck with the machine.

Not supplying backup CDs shows a lack of respect for the customer.  One thing I've always appreciated about Dell is that they respect their customers.  My favorite example of this is the fact that even if your laptop is designated "return to depot for repair", you can still easily find the repair guide on their web site along with the other docs for your machine.  You don't have to screw around with logging in to some protected area; it's right there in the support section like everything else.  It's your machine; you should have the opportunity to know how to fix it.

A few years ago my Latitude LM had a broken latch.  The warranty was return-to-depot, which to me seemed silly for just a latch.  The first tech support person I talked to wouldn't send me the part directly, but the second said "I think I can find a way to do that" and he did.  And I used the repair manual off the web site to fix it.

Somehow I can't see that scenario taking place with Fujitsu or just about anybody else.  Which is, in my opinion, an unfortunate state of affairs.

Kyralessa
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Dear Kyralessa,.
                      It is possible that Dell pay more, or that they used their clout as number one to make a better deal with Microsoft, or possibly they have not yet had to renegotiate.

                        I remember being able to install the OS on its own for both my work Compaqs in 2000 and 2001 and the Acer in 2002. The lot of HPs we got in 2003 no longer allow this.

Dear JRH,
                Check out at the very least that you've got XP Pro Service Pack 1.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Stephen,

I also Googled but was unable to find price hikes. Compared to Windows 2000 OEM pricing, the pricing for Windows XP Pro has actually gone down

http://www.activewin.com/faq/nt2000_faq.shtml

Q: What are the OEM prices for Windows 2000?
A: Windows 2000 3-Pack: $386.00

http://www.activewin.com/faq/whistler.shtml

Q: What is the OEM cost for Windows XP (three pack)?
A:

Microsoft Windows XP Home OEM            $210
Microsoft Windows XP Pro OEM                $320

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Just me,
            You're not understanding me. The big names all have their own agreements with Microsoft and pay considerablly less than anyone else. These agreements are covered by draconian confidentiality clauses, often in the interest of both sides, but not at all in the interest of the consumer.

              What appears to have happened is that Microsoft previously gave the large manufacturers huge discounts on the price of standard OEM disks. They seem to have changed their policy some time in 2002 and in order to get these discounts manufacturers can only ship a restore image, and not the OEM disk, which they are either charged the same price as everybody else for, or a specially negotiated price that is still higher than that of the normal image.

              It is not that the price of OEM windows has doubled. It is that the large manufacturers (who appear to be paying around $40 a shot) are no longer offered the OEM disk for that price. They now have to pay up to double the price of the diskimage if they want to ship a standalone install CD.

              Is that clearer?

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 13, 2004

As others have mentioned, if the installer is crashing, there are two possibilities:

(1) It needs special options or drivers to install.  This would put the hardware maker is in breach of the logo program.
(2) The hardware is defective.

Try running Memtest86 on the system.  See if it finds any errors.  Could you provide a little more information about exactly HOW the installer crashes?

Myron A. Semack
Thursday, May 13, 2004

Stephen,

I did get it but I could not find specific pricing for high volume OEM's. I agree this is not necessarily in line with the mom&pop pricing. A drop in pricing for the latter may or may not indicate a similar pricemove for the former.

What I could find is MS requires that a Windows OEM licence is tied to the computer it is sold with. This is done through a preactivation system that ties the licence to the bios number. It seems the OEM is free to decide how to do this. Furthermore it seems that preloading, for wich MS provides tools, is required for desktop versions of the OS.

As a result of these things it is easier for an OEM to just put out PC's with preinstalled windows and recovery partitions. It does not seem to be prohibited to provide recovery CD's, but of course these can not be generic install on whatever computer you fancy CD's. E.g. the Windows CD's I get with my Dell notebooks seem to install fine on whatever Dell notebook I tried, but when I tried to reinstall a Toshiba notebook with a Dell CD that was at hand, I got a warning that this version of Windows was only licenced to Dell hardware (I don't remember the exact wording) and was not given the option to continue the install. The same thing happens when you try to use the Dell CD for installing onto a Virtual PC.

Here is an article about the changes at the time: http://archive.infoworld.com/articles/op/xml/00/05/01/000501opfoster.xml You can find out about the preactivation from Microsoft.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, May 14, 2004

Dear Justme,
                    Ths situation you are describing with Dell, is the situation that happened with the Acer laptop. However if you read the article you linked to, it is clear that this option was the one Microsoft was no longer giving anybody (I can only presume Dell used its clout to negotiate differently).

                        That is to say, you get a "Recover CD" (which is a ghosted image)  or a "Recovery Image" on the hard drive, but you do not get a copy of the Operating system that you can install or use for repairing a system through the recovery console, or to install on the laptop without the other software, which is what the other poster wanted to do.
                        Thanks for finding the link.

                          I think you are still not understanding what I mean by doubling the price. It seems from your article that big OEMs now have two choices. They can either use the recovery image or they can buy bulk OEM licenses at the same price your mum and pop installer does (around $80 for XP Home it seems). As the recovery CD option will cost them around $40, if they elect not to go that way, they will be paying $80 per machine instead of the $40 or so they would be paying for the Pre-loaded image.

                          You might argue that they are being offered a 50% discount but that is not true, since previously they were paying more or less the same price they now pay for the Recovery CD, but getting the full install CD, as you say Dell still do.

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 14, 2004

Stephen,

I do "understand", but without any facts to base your "assumptions" on, where do we stand? What in the linked article supports your 100% price hike assumption?

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, May 14, 2004

What 100% price hike?

What I have been saying, and what the article backs up is that MS decided it was no longer going to let OEMs use a stand alone install version of Windows, as they had been doing previously, but only a ghosted image of a pre-install. So OEMs that wanted to have the Windows CD that they had before would have to pay the full OEM price, which as far as we can tell is double the price they are  paying now for the imaged software, and double what they were paying previously for the bulk OEM Windows license.

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 14, 2004

Stephen,

we must be reading different things in the article:

"According to Microsoft representatives, as of April 1 the company changed its OEM media policies for all versions of Windows except for the Server Edition of Windows 2000, for which one still gets a regular backup CD. For all other versions of Windows, PC manufacturers have their choice of the recovery CD or hard-drive-based recovery-image solutions, and some may offer customers different options (presumably at different prices). How recovery CDs are implemented is up to the OEM as long as it meets Microsoft's guidelines for assuring the media can only be used on the type of system with which it originally shipped. These policies are limited to those PC manufacturers that have direct license agreements with Microsoft, so generic OS backup CDs will still be in the distribution channel."

I'd argue that a fully from blank installable copy of Windows, but one that ensures it is going to install only on the particular MB, is fully in line with the stated policy. This is how I see Dell does it. Some manufacturers may find the logistics of making these disks difficult, but it is not forbidden.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, May 14, 2004

" as long as it meets MICROSOFT'S guidelines for assuring the media can only be used on the type of system with which it originally shipped."

These are the words in dispute. You might argue that an OS CD tied to the macine meets the guidelines but does Microsoft? It can't be because the companies can't do it. Until end 2002 I had OS CD's that could only install on the machine from both Compaq and Acer. Now they only have images. There is no covenience to the customer in this whatsoever.

I can only presume that Dell has long had other agreements with MS. I remember about three years ago finding Dell W98 OEM's that had made their way to the open market.

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 14, 2004

I really don't know. From what I read their main concern is piracy. Who knows. Maybe they're really out to harras their users, and all that where affected by the 100% hike just either took it and kept quiet, or went to disk image only and kept the price scam quiet. Who knows.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, May 14, 2004

I don't think anybody took the "100% hike". They all went over to disk imaging the whole installation, with the possbile exception of Dell. Even the big guys know better than to cry foul on MS. It simply ups the price they pay, and margins are tight now, even in the laptop market.  Details of the deals MS has with the big guys normally only ever come out in court cases when both parties get subpoenad.

Microsoft presumably reckoned that if there was a stand alone OS tied to the BIOS, then a hacker could easily take that bit of code out, and so forbad it.

The only other possibility is that MS said it would not do away with preactivation if they shipped with the OS CD, and the OEM's decided that would be a support nightmare. Imagine trying to reactivate from an airplane (been there, done that!)

MS doesn't ever set out to harrass its customers. It does just doesn't care too much if it inconveniences them as long as they can't do anything in the short-term.

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 14, 2004

"Imagine trying to reactivate from an airplane (been there, done that!)"

Oooh, tell us, tell us!  (You were reinstalling your OS on an airplane?)

Kyralessa
Friday, May 14, 2004

Yep! I was going on holiday from Saudi to Sri Lanka for the nine week summer vacation. As always I transferred my documents and email files to the laptop. I was using Outlook Express at the time, and so they were all .dbx files. The problem was I had foolishly transferred the files while the program was still open on the desktop and they didn't install properly on the laptop.

So when I open the laptop on the plane to spend a couple of hours with MCSE training, what do I find, but Outlook  Express doesn't have all the files. Well, nothing else to do on the plane, let's troubleshoot it. Half an hour later there I was installing the OS (W98SE so there wasn't any reactivation). Of course, it was only after that that  I remembered I'd forgotten to write down the CD key from the regisitry (the restore CD allowed you to browse it to restore the OS, but didn't give you the key!). No particular pain. I sent somebody to the shop to get a pirate copy of Windows after I had unpacked, but if I had had a conference the next morning it wouldn't have been fun. Thathappened to one of PC magazine's gurus with Office XP three or so years back, and MS was so embarrased it changed the whole activation policy.

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 14, 2004

> How much these are the result of MS pressure, and how much the result of dumb manufacturers I don't know

"Never attribute to malice what can easily be explained by stupidity."


Monday, May 17, 2004

Yea, but in this case it is either all the manufacturers being dumb or simply MS, since the effect on piracy is near zero.

Stephen Jones
Monday, May 17, 2004

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