New Version of Windows? Oh No, Not Again


I read with horror the cheerful announcement that there was going to be another version of Windows out sooner than expected — Windows 7. I am sure it will be new and improved with only limited carryforward compatibility with previous versions. So in order to move forward (as the vendor insists) we will not only need to buy a new PC but new versions of all the applications we need to do our jobs. That is because by design the changes from one version to another force application vendors to make code changes to keep things running — what worked in the last version doesn’t. And the workarounds from last time stop because the breakages are in different places. And since nothing new ever works there will be extended periods of chaos while our previously working environments have ‘teething problems’.

This is a particularly sensitive issue for me as I have just finished a week of trying to get some key applications installed on a new PC, and failed. They are all Vista compatible (it says here…), but true to form there is a certain amount of unknown tweaking, fiddling and so forth to get things to work. And the mandatory mysterious hangs that seem to be increasingly a feature of the environment. (Just like the old days under MSDos.)

Prior to IE7, which I really like by the way, browser hangs were unusual. They are now an almost daily occurance and sometimes force a system reboot to get anything to work again. Seems the browser has become an integral part of the current generation of applications and when it takes a hike pretty much everything hangs. And the error log shows ‘application fault bucket xxxxxxxx’ which is completely undocumented, of course.

The pity is that I really like the changes in Vista and I really wanted things to go well. Dual core processor, 4gb of memory, etc — plenty of room to play. But here we are. The applications that were the reason for the new machine just won’t go — and depressingly for no apparent reason. So faced with the prospect of endless weeks of try this, that and so forth, try pressing ‘return’ with your left thumb instead of the right index finger, pray to the gods and so forth.

Bottom line is that this should not be necessary. Upwards compatibility should be a key design requirement. Disruptive changes are distressing for everybody and expensive to fix and relearn. I suppose in a profit-oriented business the more expensive the change the better it is for the vendor — but the more it would be avoided by the folks who have to pay for it. Thats what I did — when it became obvious what a haul it would be to get things working I took the cowards way out and installed XP. Maybe someday I will try again — meanwhile I have work to do.

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