Windows Upgrade, Part I

December 21, 2007 By: erik Category: Geeky, House, News 696 views

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My sister-in-law recently purchased a new computer that came with Windows Vista pre-installed. She couldn’t stand it. She said, “I can’t find anything anymore!” The first thing she did with her new computer was have her boyfriend come over and install Windows XP on it. I suspect that this scenario has played out for thousands of surprised computer customers. People vehemently dislike change. This change-hating inertia is exactly what keeps people using such a crappy operating system in the first place. Within the first week, she called me and said, “Whenever I try to run a google search in IE a box comes up and says something about ‘spyware has blocked something’. What do I do?” Upgrading software to provide more features without confusing the user is a very delicate balancing act and Microsoft has really screwed things up (and is frustratingly not yet bankrupt).

The three or four people that I have spoken to about their recent upgrade from Mac OS X Tiger to Leopard, when asked what they think of the new operating system, all have said, “[shrug] Meh, looks pretty much the same”. This is a huge compliment to the designers of Leopard. It’s supposed to look exactly the same! Of course some things have changed. Very few people like the translucent menu bar initially. The firewall settings have moved and gotten dumber, etc. But no one that is familiar with Tiger will say, “I can’t find anything anymore!”

Wait, what was I talking about….oh yeah, windows upgrades…
The cheapskates that built our building made our windows out of wood. The wood is really gorgeous. But it doesn’t last very long unless carefully maintained with waterproofing varnish, which no one has done over the 12-year lifetime of the building. Three of the windows in our house are starting to leak, and the moisture is causing paint to peel. So we’ve decided it’s time to install a new version of windows.

We got quotes from several places around town, some that specialize in aluminum windows and others that specialize in PVC windows. Aluminum is more expensive than PVC. I recall news stories from a year or so ago about people stealing highway guard rails to melt them down and sell the aluminum. The places that specialize in PVC explained, “PVC is much better than aluminum. It lasts longer and is easier to clean. I mean, it’s plastic so it’s going to last forever. Aluminum, at the end of the day, is still just metal.” And the people that specialize in aluminum explained, “Aluminum is much better than PVC. It lasts longer and is easier to clean. I mean, it’s metal so it’s going to last forever. PVC, at the end of the day, is still just plastic.” We’d like to think that, after listening to the details from both sides, the aluminum people just made more sense about exactly why their product is better, but I suspect that the truth is that the PVC people were cold and haughty and the aluminum people were warm and friendly. So we’ve decided on aluminum. I prefer to do things right, even if it costs a little more, and then not worry about it anymore.

The aluminum folks chopped off a few samples for us to take home and pick a color. The way they can make metal look like wood these days is incredible. One of the samples was a little shiny and was obviously metallic, but with the other one you can’t even be sure whether it’s wood or not even when you touch it. Amazing.Aluminum Samples

What’s on top is our current wooden window frame. Bottom left is the shiny metallic-looking sample. Bottom right is the color our new windows will be.

Wood or metal?

Crazy, huh?

So sometime in January, we’re gonna get a newer, more modern, version of windows. Hopefully the user interface will be the same.

  • I have heard that plenty of people are ‘upgrading’ from Vista to XP. XP is what I run in Parallels, and I have no interest in trying Vista there even as a second or third OS.

    How difficult was it for you to keep from telling your sister-in-law that there are computers in this world which are actively pleasant to use? Or are your Macagnostic family and friends tired of hearing your sales pitch?

  • My emulated PC is running Vista, but that’s just because it was available at the time and XP wasn’t. Whether people like it or not, getting to know Vista is the smart move, because whatever horror is released next is gonna be more like Vista than XP.

    A mac isn’t really right for her. She spent like 400€ on this new computer and needs to exchange MS Word documents with her professors. Although it might be possible with a Mini and Office for mac, it would be me, rather than her IT boyfriend, that would be helping her with each little problem.

    Lovely religious zealot implication there, by the way.

  • I, personally, make my strident evangelical computer appeals based on how much pain and suffering I think the recipient is willing to tolerate. I always recommend a Mac, to be sure, but with some people I am much more urgent than with others because the platform may well determine the degree of personal happiness this person experiences. I never, ever promise rapture though.

    I love the actual upgrade of windows bit. Crazy indeed.

  • The “Mac” scene recently caused a heated (very heated) argument at a family gathering. So much so that my father-in-law called me an hour later (after he cooled down) and apologized.

    My grandfather-in-law went to visit his son that lives in California. His son has an iMac. For the week that he was visiting he had to use the iMac for mail and surfing. Well, he fell in love. His son’s son (his grandson) works at an Apple store and can get him a good deal on one.

    At the family gathering which was the week after he had returned from Cali he started pounding me with questions about converting; will I be able to transfer this program, file, etc.

    My father-in-law jumps into the conversation and says, “Why do you need a new computer?!”

    The grandfather replies, “Because the iMacs are just wonderful and I want to switch.”

    This is where things got heated and I didn’t see it coming. My father-in-law looks at me and asks me why I’m trying to convert him.

    “I’m not. He really liked using one on his visit to California.”

    “YOU KNOW THAT MACs ARE FOR POWER USERS!”, he replied and walks away.

    I was dumbfounded. The conversation resumed on the subject an hour or so later and I’ll save you the yelling and irrational arguments that flew around the room.

    My entire family knows that I’m a Mac Zealot and I felt as if I was defending my cause.

    What’s even funnier is that, and Erik you saw this evolve, I came into the Mac world kicking and screaming. BUT I would never ever ever go back.

  • Paul

    I didn’t kick and scream, but I wasn’t an easy convert either. I went through the 1978 decision – Apple or TRS-80 – and chose the TRS-80. One thing led to another, and when I opened Morganton’s first computer store 25 years ago, it was strictly an IBM PC-compatible shop. I became IT Manager for a state agency, and grew from 3 machines to 400 LAN workstations, all “PC Compatible” of course. I learned Windows, and didn’t want to learn anything else unless I had to. I specifically avoided touching a Mac until I spent a week in England using Erik’s. The video iChat feature tipped me over the edge, but I had to figure out how to convince my wife, who 20 years ago took over the computer store, continuing to sell and repair nothing but Windows machines. What if her customers found out she had an iMac at home? While ripping a bandaid off one day, I realized the solution was to just go on-line and buy it, and do my ‘splainin’ later.

  • So how has your ‘splainin’ gone so far?

    It’s funny that I meant this post to be about the physical windows in our house.

    Any Windows folks out there care to comment?

  • Paul

    She doesn’t mind, but she will if it breaks and she can’t fix it.

  • Betsy

    I use the iMac every day at home; however I am easily frustrated when I can’t do the stuff I do on my XP machines at work. There probably is a way to right click and rename or delete (forever with shift key option) or copy or drag and drop, but I just don’t know what it is. Maybe Erik can teach me some new tricks in Feb. I have continued to sell new computers with XP. The people that go to Best Buy or or WalMart are stuck with Vista. I have had little luck downgrading although several desperate people have asked. I hate the way Vista takes control, hiding useful commands, but then pretends that you have choices by asking permission to open things. I also find it amusing that Vista has adopted several Mac OS type features such as the spinning colored contraption when it’s thinking and “widgets”. How does Gates get away with that? Maybe he figures no one uses both and won’t notice.

  • Paul

    I see a nice side benefit to having “learned” to use my iMac this morning as I play with the XO computer. Operating systems are like languages – the more you know, the easier it is to learn another. I have to think my learning curve is benefitting from my broader horizon.

    This XO is very cool, by the way. Thanks for pointing me in this direction Erik!