Microsoft Offers Workarounds, No Fix for Vista Update

Over a week after some Windows Vista users installing patches in preparation for SP1 started seeing infinite reboots, Microsoft has finally provided a set of workarounds (though no fixes).

The workarounds include running the installation DVD and selecting "repair your computer," booting to safe mode (although I hear you can't necessarily do that) and using the repair or system restore features. The last method is to rename the file "Pending.xml" and then make edits to the registry.

Sounds like a painful process. Have you seen this problem? What have you done about it? Tell me at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

Microsoft Class-Action Suit Goes Forward
A suit filed against Microsoft's "Windows Vista Capable" tag for computers was given class-action status and cleared to go to trial, albeit with a slightly reduced list of claims. The suit claims that the "Vista Capable" tag was misleading because many computers identified as such weren't powerful enough to run all of Vista's features.

Most of us have long known that Microsoft sets its minimum system requirements at an artificially low level, and recognize that the small print has always stated that certain configurations are required for high-end features such as the Aero UI. But as a marketing guide, "Windows Vista Capable" is a bust, and it may be a legal liability. After all, many computer buyers don't have the background to make sense of Microsoft marketing-speak.

Was "Windows Vista Capable" a good idea? Or are people simply trying to take advantage of a deep-pocketed company? Give me your opinion at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

Yang Tells Rice It's Her Job To Get Dissidents Released
In a response that has irony written all over it, Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang said in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that it was the State Department's job to pursue the release of two journalists being held in a Chinese prison for allegedly leaking state secrets and political writings.The irony is that it was information provided to the Chinese government by Yahoo that led to these arrests and imprisonment.

Yang claims that the information Yahoo provided was released against company values, and the company has settled a lawsuit by the families involved and established a human rights fund after the fact. However, after a Yahoo official was caught in the act of misleading Congress about the affair, California Rep. Tom Lantos responded, "While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies."

It sounds like a cop-out by Yahoo to me. Does no one there recall the courage and conviction of H. Ross Perot as chronicled in On Wings of Eagles? Yang wouldn't do that; it's all about dollars and cents to him. What do you think? Let me know at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: Vista Ready...Not!, More
Doug reported yesterday on the class-action lawsuit against Microsoft over "Vista Ready" stickers on PCs that apparently weren't. Here are some of your thoughts on the lawsuit -- and on Vista itself:

I do not blame Microsoft for the "Vista Ready" issues, but the manufacturer that slapped the sticker on the computer, and the cheap and ignorant customers who purchased them. If you buy a Kia to tow a fifth-wheel trailer instead of a full-sized pickup, do you blame Kia, the salesmen that sold it to you with the trailer? Or do you admit the truth and say that you, the user, did not know what you were doing when you purchased it?

Case in point: A user came to me with a Dell laptop that they purchased at Christmas time last year with the "free upgrade to Vista." So the customer upgraded to Vista when the disk arrived. Two months later, she could not take the computer anymore and brought it to me. The system had a Celeron CPU and 256 RAM! It was like trying to run a fully patched XP on 128 RAM (another story). The thing literally took 10 minutes to print the text page to an inkjet printer because it was swapping so badly. I upgraded it to 2GB of RAM, and that little Celeron was actually able to make Vista come to life -- which was surprising, too.

The point is, Dell NEVER should have sold someone a computer that was intended to run Vista with that amount of RAM (or, in my opinion, that CPU). The laptop may have been certified to run Vista by Microsoft and been granted the official sticker, but I really doubt that it was tested and certified with 256 RAM.
-Jim

My whole take on the "Vista Ready" squabble is this: Did Microsoft individually certify every machine on which the manufacturers placed the "Vista Ready" sticker? I doubt it, so why aren't these suits including the manufacturers who misrepresented their products as being "Vista Ready"? Or are they, and I'm just too dumb to have noticed?

Regarding Vista installations, I bought a Toshiba notebook for the daughter of the boss (on clearance, natch). It had Vista Basic on a Mobile Celeron processor with integrated graphics and 256MB of RAM and ran out of the box about as fast as a sloth. Once I stuck another gigabyte of RAM in the machine, it perked up quite well. It still serves her basic, non-gaming, non-graphics-intensive needs quite satisfactorily.

On the other hand, I have installed Vista Home Premium and Vista Ultimate on several machines which would be considered by some as low-end. Some had a Mobile Celeron processor or Turion processors with integrated graphics, and these ran the Aero interface just fine as long as the machine had 1GB to 2GB of RAM to play with! I'm certainly not playing any high-end games or rendering hours of video on these machines, but they serve our modest business needs well. It all depends on your expectations and needs. Personally, I still buy Windows XP machines whenever I can!

-Phil

Here is my experience with Vista to date: Running on my HP Pavilion laptop (Business Edition), I really didn't have any problems. There was a learning curve for the new OPSYS but otherwise all was OK. It was slower and more hardware-intensive than XP Pro, though.

I built a new desktop with an Intel Core 2 (1.86GB) duo processor, 2GB of RAM, 256MB ATI Gigabyte Radeon video card and 480GB of hard drive space. I installed Windows Vista Ultimate. Here was my experience: Vista Security Center did not recognize my anti-virus software (Ashampoo); the Ashampoo anti-virus .EXE file disappeared and the OS wouldn't let me re-install; the security center, firewall, defender, update and anti-spyware software disabled after EVERY reboot (I had to re-enable after every reboot manually); I could not install McAfee VirusScan Enterprise 8.5 either (failed at mcupdate.exe file); and my internal and external CD/DVD drives would just lose their drivers and I would have to delete, reboot and let them be re-installed.

I reverted back to Windows XP Pro and am having no problems with any of the software or hardware. All in all, it will be some time before I try Vista again! I think Microsoft better keep XP around for a long, LONG time.
-James

The Vista operating system is junk. Poorly written software, inefficient, poor performance requires too many hardware upgrades to get basic operation capabilities.

I have an AMD 2600 Athalon, 1GB RAM with an ATI All-in-Wonder card. I run Windows XP SP2 and can play back DVD movies. No problem, TV playback works fine also. I upgraded (?) to Vista Ultimate. No Aero interface. Does not play DVD movies. Requires a graphics card with 256MB of memory. Probably requires at least 1GB RAM for the operating system alone, and 2GB to run one or two bloated applications.

-Anonymous

Friend of mine bought a new eMachines system with 512MB of memory and Vista Home edition. Let's just say I'm downgrading it to XP Professional for a more enhanced user experience. The thing is so slow, it's not funny.

My gripe with MS is that they pack their systems full of crap stuff and enable it by default, thus slowing it way down. I'd rather see a very light OS and then have a tool to add features -- and one that HONESTLY tells you what you are going to need when you enable it.
-Bruce

Last May, I purchased a Dell Latitude 830, 4GB of RAM and Windows Vista Ultimate. I also purchased Microsoft Office 2007 and use the Outlook 2007 as my e-mail client. As a retired CIO for a Montana state agency, I can tell you that I would NEVER recommend either Vista or MS Office 2007.

First, Outlook locks up regularly, requiring -- at the least -- bringing up the task manager and killing the program. This happens multiple times each day. Generally, I have to reboot at least twice a day. The rest of the Office products are a definite step back in productivity without the old menu systems. I also get lockups or extreme slowdowns with other software. It's like I wasted a whole bunch of money on so much memory (4GB!). It still has created about 8GB of virtual memory on the hard drive.

I have Gold Product support from Dell and the support personnel are not very happy with Vista' performance. They, like myself, believe there is a serious memory leak that causes the computer to get slower and slower, necessitating regular reboots. If I had to do it all over again, I would NOT get Vista.
-Tripp

Speaking of Dell, Judith last week wrote in to share her bad brush with the company's tech support. Les had a similar experience:

We bought our daughter a Dell laptop for use at college. While it was still in warranty, we called to have them replace a bad CD-ROM drive. It took THREE different calls in a two-hour period to get someone who spoke and understood English enough to grasp the problem. They hung up the first two times while they were checking to see if we were covered by the warranty.

We had to send the entire laptop to Texas from Washington state (at least it was at their expense). When she got it back, that drive was also bad. My daughter said that it had a slightly different cover than the bad one so we knew it was different. It took another three calls and a couple of hours to get an authorization to send it back. Two of those calls were to call centers in India. It took six phone calls and almost two weeks to get her bad CD drive replaced.

Then Dell had the nerve to call me about that experience. I told them, point blank, that I would NEVER buy a Dell again because of the hassle it took to get a warranty-covered item resolved. I also mentioned that I work for a city government and that I would PERSONALLY see to it that we would not buy any more Dell products (the lady that makes the purchases works in the cube next to mine). Our techs here have had some of the same problems my daughter and I had with Dell and they were beginning to question the quality of the products and the service, as well. When I asked them when they were going to have people in their call centers that understood English, all I got was silence. There were no apologies from them at the end of that conversation. Customer service is NOT a specialty at Dell and that is why they will NEVER get any more of my or my family's business.
-Les

Finally, Doug shared this prayer his grandfather taught him as a child: "If I should die before I wake, I pray Thee, Lord, my Soul to take." Sound familiar?

We must be cousins. Grandfather taught me the same prayer.
-Bill

Join the fray! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

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