Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ed Bott Fixing Vista one PC at a Time.

Ed Bott Windows expert and Vista blogger extraordinaire, recently took on a friends Sony Vaio laptop computer. It seems his friend bought this machine shortly after Vista released. The laptop was a replacement for a older Sony laptop, that had been stolen. Apparently when the friend used the machine a few times it quickly became a nightmare. Boot times for the $2500 Sony were in the 3 minute time frame, that is insane, I bought a $599 Gateway with a relatively modestly powered AMD machine for one of my kids that boots in around a minute. The report continued on to indicate that performance once booted was equally disappointing. The friend eventually became disgusted, put the Sony in a closet and bought a MacBook.

Enter Ed Bott, former editor of PC World, Windows Blogger for ZDnet, and Microsoft MVP. Ed has written detailed guides to Microsofts operating systems for some time and is well respected in his field. Few people are as knowledgeable about the various incarnations of Windows as Ed is. Ed took the gentleman's PC with the hope of salvaging the PC, into something use able.

The story is a bit more complicated though. Seems his friend had contacted tech support and was told his experience was typical of the computers running the new operating system Windows Vista.

The story is fairly involved, to make a very long story short. A clean install of Vista and a new set of up to date drivers turned the machine around completely. Ed's post on the story can be found here, and here,

I think there is a very important point to the story. Many of the problems of the guys computer can be traced to a couple of things. One, a miserable load of crapware, that many new machines ship with these days significantly slow down and wreck the computing experience of new computer users. Two, poor driver support from the hardware manufacturers has made the Vista experience worse than any new operating system rollout that I can recall. My first Vista computer was a home built desktop, obviously no crapware there! The drivers on my machine worked fine and improved gradually over the months. The second Vista machine was a Dell Inspiron 1420 I bought from the Dell Outlet store, it had a fast processor, 2 Gb's of ram and a 7200 RPM hard drive. Dell also installed little or no crapware as well, the machine works great, always has.

This story should (but probably won't ) be a wake up call to the major PC manufacturers. I understand the thin margins they operate on these days. The crapware aka trialware, provides a small subsidy to the computer makers to boost their profit a little. Folks, it's not worth it, if you continue to push this junk on the consumers we will vote with our feet. Dell seems to get it, Lenovo's seem pretty good, even Sony is offering some models crapware free. HP and Gateway seem pretty infested with this stuff, the only way to get rid of this stuff is to not purchase machines that have it installed.

Now not all trialware is crap. Some things like a trial of Office 2007 may be useful for people and can be uninstalled easily. If you read Ed's account of the process of making the computer usable, you learn some of this junk like an AOL trial was difficult to uninstall from the control panel. Another problem he had was navigating the driver support site from Sony. This is just crazy, you should just type in your machine model number, or even serial number and all drivers should be arranged by release date so you can get the most recent one.

I've heard Sony support wasn't the best but in this case they managed to chase a customer right into the lap of a competitor.

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