[FoRK] F*ck Microsoft...

Ian Andrew Bell (FoRK) < fork at ianbell.com > on > Fri Mar 3 11:55:50 PST 2006

I am venting here.

I just purchased a new copy of XP Pro because the old site license  
from the now-defunct startup that I got the original PC from was  
deemed to have been PIRATED by some wonk at Microsoft and I can no  
longer update or repair the system properly.  Sounds like they're  
making up for a revenue shortfall by spontaneously invalidating  
legitimate licenses, but I assume they're non-transferrable anyway so  
fair enough.  They got me.  A problem with some sort of spurious  
corruption of the JET database (gleaned after protracted hours of  
searching the MSFT KB) was preventing one of my favourite apps from  
working, so forced a reckoning which resulted in my purchase of a new  
copy of XP Pro.

So I go home with it, I sit down, and I Google around looking for  
some way that I can, simply, change the serial number and re-register  
my computer without reinstalling Windows.  No Joy.  Half the returned  
links are for Serialz and Juarez sites.  A similar search on "change  
registration serial number Windows XP" through the Microsoft KB and  
help sites of course yields no results.  Or rather, it yields  
practically every document in the database.  Similar searches on  
Google yield nothing.

I have XP installed on a software RAID NTFS volume which, as I  
remember, was not easy to set up.  So off we go, insert the CD and  
cancel my plans for the rest of the evening, watch some old episodes  
of "The Office" on my PowerBook, which strangely has never asked for  
a serial number and never needed a re-install despite having shifted  
across three different computers in as many years (the "transfer  
stuff from old Mac to new Mac" feature is hella cool).  It is times  
like this where the difference in quality and usability between the  
two platforms is so palpable it grabs you by the short and curlies  
and spins you above its head.

First Install:	Seems to go well, chose to "Upgrade" which I knew by  
intuition would ask for a serial number.  On rebooting after the hour  
long install my Gervais-induced good cheer is interrupted by the Safe  
Mode screen.  Windows now seems to get a Blue Screen of Death halfway  
through startup.


Second Install:	Let's try a Restore shall we?   Asks for the  
Administrator password.  My Administrator password on this box is  
blank.  Installer does not recognize.  Back to reboot.

Third Install:		Let's do an Install.  Oh, installer detects an  
existing Windows XP and wants to recover.  Takes an hour.  Several  
annoying prompts about uncertified drivers.  Completed.   happy?   
Nope... still the BSOD.

Fourth Install:	Ignore the offer to Recover, damn the torpedoes,  
blast everything.  Install goes well.  Same annoying prompts about  
uncertified drivers for the on-board sound on my motherboard.   
Another hour lost to father time.  Happy?

Nope.  BSOD on startup.

Result:	4 hours gone, $140 lighter.  Any shred of belief that anyone  
in Redmond understands what the fuck they're doing now cast to the sea.

Four years ago this month Entourage died on my Mac and killed 3  
years' worth of email, calendar, and contact data as it stores  
everything in a proprietary and corruptible format.  After jumping  
through the hoops for 8 hours with MSFT tech support they declared  
this was a known bug and that there was nothing they could do to help  
me.  "Sorry!"

Ten years ago I spent an entire WEEK on the phone with MSFT tech  
support trying to remedy a problem with IIS on NT 4.0 only to have  
them cast their palms skyward and declare that I, and my team, would  
need to wait a few months for a service pack which might help us  
retrieve our data.  We ended up switching to BSD and Apache, since we  
needed to rebuild a bunch of stuff from scratch anyway.

I continually fail to understand why anyone ever pays for their  
software.  Am I really that cursed that these are unique  
experiences?  How come OS X never farts on me?  How come my linux  
server has been up solidly since I moved it 8 months ago, with nary  
an up2date?


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