I have not written anything of substance in my blog in several weeks. This is mostly due to adventures with my new computer. Yes, I have purchased a new and high-powered computer. My old XP machine is more than six years old. It is having a number of exasperating age-related problems. I saved my pennies to buy a fancy new computer. I took delivery of the new machine around about my birthday in June.
Within days, the brand-new, one terabyte hard-drive failed. There was much drama in just finding out what the problem was. Microsoft took advantage of the failed hard drive to rip-me-off for an additional $10 to buy backup disks that Microsoft should have included in the first place. So, I have spent much of the past month reinstalling software. But first, I had to wait on Microsoft to send me the freakin' disks that they should have included to start with!
In the past month, I have been getting to know Vista. What a nightmare!
I divide the problems with "Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1" into two categories:
1) Profound productivity-destroying problems that have turned my new high-power computer into nothing more than a door-stop.
2) Irksome and annoying little design flaws that make everyday use a bloody pain.
Where to begin? In "category one", perhaps?
None of the essential things that I use a computer for can be done in Vista. The first of those fundamental things is photo-manipulation.
Vista will not operate the photo-manipulation program that I use. THE ONE PROGRAM THAT I USE MORE THAN ANY OTHER PROGRAM IN THE WORLD WILL NOT WORK IN VISTA. To add insult to injury, the photo-manipulation program in question is a Microsoft program. Before I bought Vista, I was told, explicitly and repeatedly that any program that works in XP will work in Vista. Don't you believe it!
Another "category one" problem is that "Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1" cannot make an ordinary scanner work. I can't scan in photos or documents using the scanner that XP can handle just fine. This is more than just hobby stuff. I need to scan in documents as part of my job. Microsoft has several white papers on this particular scanner issue which all amount to "It's not our problem". It is, in fact, the problem of anyone who may consider using Vista.
I put this next one in "category one" because "Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1" is on my home computer. I spend a lot of time on my home computer playing PC games. "Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1" won't easily start computer games. I can make them start eventually, but it takes an hour or two. "Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1" has a piracy protection system that identifies game disks as "copies", and will not start the game until the "original" game disk is put in. Of course, I only have original game disks. If I keep putting in the disk, and rebooting a lot, eventually Vista will start the game. It takes an hour or two.
I also put this next one in "category one" because "Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1" is on my home computer, and I spend a lot of time on my home computer listening to music or audio-books. My music and audio-books are in the Microsoft proprietary format ".wma" (Windows Media Audio). I use Windows Media Player to play my audio recordings. My audio recordings are in the Windows Media Player's library. I use playlists in the Windows Media Player's library. "Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1" won't easily start the Windows Media Player program. When I start the program, Vista tells me "Windows Media Player has stopped working" and then it shuts down the Windows Media Player program. If I reboot Vista, I can get the program to work. It may take several reboots.
There is a lot of rebooting when dealing with "Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1".
Category two problems are the irksome and annoying little design flaws that make everyday use of "Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1" a bloody pain. And they are legion.
How is this for annoying? The "off symbol" on the Vista "off button" does not actually mean that you can use that button to turn your computer off. In Vista, using the button with the "off symbol" on it puts your computer into a state that looks like "off", but is not "off". If you assume (as I did at first) that the "off symbol" on a Vista button will, in fact, turn your computer off, you could damage your computer, and at the very least, Vista will complain that it was not shut down correctly. In Vista, to turn your computer off, you click on what may be considered the "start" button, then, on the bottom right of the "start" menu you have to move right past the goofy "off" misnomer, past the "lock", and onto a nondescript little triangle. With your cursor on the small nondescript triangle, you will get a menu of items that include the "shut down" function. Eureka!
The "Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1" disk defragmenter function may be a complete joke. Or maybe it isn't a joke. There is just no way to tell. I fired up the "Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1" disk defragmenter program, and I let it plug away for thirty-five hours before I shut it down as a dead loss. After thirty-five hours, was it 2% done or 98% done? There is no way to tell. Did it move so much as a single bit? There is no way to tell.
"Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1" has an amazingly buggy program called "Windows Media Center" (not to be confused with "Windows Media Player"). Using certain of the individual functions within "Windows Media Center" may well result in the blue-screen-of-death. Yes! The use of some parts of "Windows Media Center" will terminally crash and reboot "Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1" with all of a fatal crash's attendant loss of data. We are talking, here, about a "windows 95" style fatal crash.
Ultimate Vista's amazingly buggy "Windows Media Center" program does play DVDs reasonably well. Here is one last irksome and annoying little design flaw to close out this essay: The cursor disappears when using the "Windows Media Center" program. You have to use the cursor to point at your selections within the "Windows Media Center" program, but the cursor is gone. That is to say that the cursor is invisible. The selections light up when the invisible cursor is over them, but maneuvering an invisible cursor to the right place is time-consuming and difficult (read "irksome and annoying").
Please do not think that I have listed, in this essay, all of the problems that I have with Vista. I am not attempting to create an exhaustive list here. I just want to make clear that Vista is bad news. Anyone who says that Vista's SP1 has fixed Vista's problems is, at best, dead wrong. I thought that I could get around most of Vista's major problems by having a high powered computer. I was wrong. I was also in error, also, to believe the people who told me that programs that work in XP will work in Vista. Vista's problems are endemic and fatal.
Maybe Vista can cope with email. I don't know. I haven't tried that yet.
--Pip R. Lagenta