Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

To The Pain

In the truly excellent movie The Princess Bride, the hero tells the evil prince that he will torture him “to the pain”. He describes “to the pain” in this way “It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery, forever. “ That's pretty much how I feel about my recent, unexpected move to Microsoft Windows Vista. I can deal with the death of my computer but not the pain of moving to Vista.

The story begins, like so many of these stories, with an otherwise usable machine dying an untimely death. My trusty computer of these past five or six years, simply refused to wake up one day. It's probably the power supply. The problem is that it costs a lot to find out if that's true and and then replace it. It's simply not worth trying to revive it. A new computer was in order and that meant Vista.

Now, Vista is a fine OS. It is clearly more secure than XP and has some neat user interface tricks. It's very nice to look at and easier to use than XP was. The search features alone are almost worth the price of upgrading. So far, this looks to have been a lucky move. That's until the “to the pain” part started.

The key problem is application backward compatibility. Several key applications simply do not work and many more don't work right. What really is tortuous is that we are not talking about ancient applications from the Regan era. No! Instead, many of the applications that do not work under Vista are only one or two years old.

For example, Quickbooks 2006 doesn't work. It won't even install. Intuit doesn't seem in the least bit interested in distributing a shim or patch either. Their advice – upgrade to Quickbooks 2007. That's insane. It's not like they didn't know that Vista was coming. It's been delayed longer than Quickbooks 2006 has been released. According to the support forums, this isn't Microsoft's fault either. Intuit apparently did some not so nice things to the Windows registry, exploiting a hole in Windows security that Vista plugged up. If true, that's not right. Actually, it sounds like a scam to me.

I had the same thing happen with NHL 2006. The graphics go wacky when you try and play with a 3D card, which is recommended by the way. The response from EA Sports is “Sorry we released that before Vista”. Nice. Haven't these folks ever heard about developer programs. At least EA Sports gave me some hints on how to get around whatever the problem is. I don't think they will help but at least they're trying.

Interestingly enough, all of my open source applications work flawlessly. Firefox, Thunderbird, Sunbird, and all installed and worked perfectly fine.. Even Truecrypt worked and creating encrypted volumes can be tricky. Maybe it's because developing cross platform applications means you can't use goofy operating system tricks.

Anyway, Vista's multimedia hooks are great and the interface much improved. Overall, I'm pleased with the OS. Not that I had a choice really. This time around, I think Microsoft got it right and the application developers hosed us.

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