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29 Reasons to Not Get Vista

Microsoft Windows Vista hits (assaults) consumers on 30 January 2007. Starting with New Years Day that gives you twenty nine days to think about the big mistake you're about to make.

Every day of January 2007 until Microsoft Windows Vista is released you can read yet another good reason why it's not a good idea to get it.

15 January 2007 Reason #15: Scary Movie 3.

Anyone who is made to fully understand what's going on inside their Windows computer comes walking away terrified. No exception. Mafia gang wars - inside your own house! Aggressive warrior code from one gang fighting it out with another for supremacy - and 'ownership' of your computer.

A common reaction is turning pale and yelping 'that's going on inside my house?'

But every Windows user has seen a scary movie sooner or later. It's all too commonplace by now. What are not commonplace are the scary movies narrated by the PC technicians themselves - the Windows repair warriors who are supposed to have seen everything. Their stories are the real shocker.

Here's the third of many.

I went through a similar ordeal a couple of weeks ago. It began like many Windows nightmares. T'was a dark and stormy night... A friend of ours, a very nice old lady closing in on 80, has an ailing PC. For some reason I couldn't say no and promised to take a look at the box.

This is unusual for me, because I've been able to say no for the past 18 months and have been INFINITELY BETTER OFF because of it. Twelve years of Windows = Suffering. 18 months without Windows = Bliss. Did I learn from my experience?

Heck no.

The lady is old. You just KNOW she's going to get exploited. Heartstrings get pulled. SO says I have to do this. Nobody among my computer illiterate friends understands what I mean by 'Windows is dangerous'. They think I'm just obstinate when I refuse to 'help' them with their 'computer' issues. And I AM obstinate, most of the time.

The utterly depressing truth is that people really do equate computers with Windows. Windows issues are 'computer problems'. It's stated with mindnumbing regularity as if it were a law of nature.

So, there I was.

It was clear to me before even looking at the box that our friend would benefit from a Mac Mini for ease of use and compatibility with Word and Excel (...which she has to have. Her bookkeeper, also a nice old lady, claims she needs Excel.) There's no way I can recommend Ubuntu to her at this point.

The box is a Compaq Presario, purchased in late 2001 or early 2002 with XP Home on it, 256 RAM, and NEVER since updated.

Take a deep breath. Feel the goosebumps.

No updates. No maintenance. No cleaning up of temporary internet files and cookies. No defragging. No anti-virus software. No firewall.

And now the bad news.

It turns out that the grandchildren used the machine when they came for a visit and installed games, realplayer, and other stuff, straight from browsing the web with IE. Their own account had no admin privileges, but they were able to log in to grandma's account because it didn't have a password but made up for that by having admin privileges.

Makes sense. As a grandchild, I'd do the same.

The box was spared a complete meltdown because it was turned off 95 per cent of the time, and the broadband connection is recent.

But my god!

Every couple minutes a restart was required. The machine ran like a car on two cylinders going uphill on a hot day. I typed the first account of this story on my PB as I watched time go by, LIFE going by, the ancient box laboring, Windows code executing bullshit, can't remove certain programs, can't find this and that, hangs on shutting down, sputters on starting up. Click on a button and you never know what happens next. A failed JSRE install consumed resources. A partially uninstalled realplayer made unhappy noises. A dubious svchost.exe process consumed 99% of the cpu...

There was the issue of backing up some files, otherwise I would have formatted the HD right away.

For curiosity's sake I ran a few programs. Adaware found only 163 'critical' boogers (I had expected at least a couple thousand). I ended up running Kaspersky, ClamWin, Spybot, CCleaner, even a trial version of NAV. I added ZoneAlarm to the mix, to see if it had gotten any better since I last saw it two years ago (it hasn't). It made a big fuss over intrusion attempts within 2 seconds of completing its install (I tracked the 'intrusion' with my PB: it was actually comcast wanting to access the box. A genuine intrusion.)

A pattern emerged. Unplug the box from the comcast cable and things were borderline. You could click on Word, wait 10 minutes, and it would start. But as soon as the machine got a live broadband connection pandemonium ensued. I wonder what it could be...

Klaus Knopper is a saint. Insert the Knoppix live CD, take a look at stuff. Amazing what you can find at no extra charge. There was the matter of a 'hidden partition' outside the Windows partition, just shy of 8 MB, at the tail end of the drive...

Okay, no more Mr. Nice Guy...

I returned the box with XP reinstalled, SP2 installed, MS Office, Firefox, Ad-Aware, ClamWin, etc. The ladies will be using webmail, so no Outlook/Thunderbird needed. Everything's fresh, crisp, clean and snappy. Even on a mere 256 MB of RAM. Better than new. It doesn't have all that compaq BS installed. I ordered a second memory stick to bring the RAM to 512 MB, but the first one I received was faulty. Waiting for a functioning stick.

I all but placed a skull & crossbones symbol on the box. I think Windows boxes should come with a toxic waste warning and an international radiation sticker. Plus biohazard label.

You think (E. Coli in) spinach is bad?! Try Windows!

I impressed on our friend just how risky it is to use Windows software. I used a lot of medical terminology. Think Ebola! I detailed the security vulnerabilities and all the things she must do to protect herself. Told her it is HER machine and not even comcast has a right to sneak in at night and spy on her box. Implored her - in writing - to get rid of the box and buy a Mac. She's not penniless. She can do it.

While she is not penniless, she is certainly clueless when it comes to her box. In that she's not alone...

We need for this lady to have an OS with a totally fool proof simplistic interface that provides a SAFE internet experience. A machine that doesn't crash and force her to call the local rent-a-nerd place which hires ex cons and then gains access to a ton of confidential records (the lady is a Jungian analyst and is still working). In fact, we need for her to not have to buy a new box to safeguard her computing. We need for her to KEEP her current machine (no lock-ins, hardware, software or otherwise), have her OS swapped, and retain all her records and accounting functionality.

Her and 900 million other PC users.

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