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Doug's Mailbag: Happy with Windows 7?, Where's the Support?, More

A recent survey of Windows 7 users suggests that they're mostly pretty happy with the OS. But a few of you, like Doug, are still having issues:

I suppose I'm "pretty happy," but I still have XP boxes around, and I am afraid to get rid of them. Windows 7 64-bit is pretty good, but I was expecting better. Pros: fast, as you'd expect a new piece of hardware to be; after getting used to the search box, I love never using cascaded menus again; and my kids only want to use the new computer because they say their homework gets done a lot faster.

Cons: a new HP computer has serious problems printing to an HP Photosmart 2400 printer (OK, it's 5 years old, but please); Quicken runs but has serious printing problems, too; Check Point VPN software doesn't support 64-bit; and annoying magic directories like "My Documents" (or sometimes "Doug's Documents") have now been replaced (yeah!) with equally confusing magic "libraries." Why can't we all just learn to deal with path names?

I was having an occasional blue screen when trying to wake my desktop from sleep (I have Windows 7 Ultimate x64). That latest reliability update -- the one people have said is making their systems unreliable -- seems to have fixed it for me. I'm speculating that it's the issue with the log in screen saver, although my symptom was a blue screen rather than unresponsiveness.

I haven't experienced any crashes when Windows 7 sleeps, but I have noted a couple of recurring anomalies when it wakes back up. First, if I was logged out when Windows 7 went to sleep, when I wake it back up and attempt to log in, my first attempt always fails. No message is displayed. Instead, the first time I select a user and enter the password, Windows 7 says that it's logging in, but then just returns to the top-level screen with the user list. A second log-in attempt at this point will then successfully log in.

And second, sometimes when I wake up Windows 7 from a sleep state, it refuses to restore the monitor display. Instead, the monitor goes right back into power save mode. The only way to restore the system is to force it off by holding down the power button, and then restarting. When the system comes back up, it then restores itself to a waking state. The system does not appear to go through a normal boot sequence when power is reapplied -- it simply emerges from the previous sleep state. Very odd.

Given the amount of custom-rolled software out there, it should not surprise anyone that Windows 7 has a lot of software issues. With that said, most of the issues I personally have had with Windows 7 are with software vendors' profound desire the make it look different. For most of the interface changes they made, I can think of no functional reason other than to make it look different.

I have been able to fix most of the issues I have had, but I am only running out-of-the-box COTS on my desktop. Some of the more complex issues with drivers and such are still nagging. I think Windows 7 will probably be a pretty good operating system by SP3. Not better than the one it replaced (XP) but good.

After doing the (free) manufacturer's upgrade on my laptop from Vista to Windows 7, I no longer can use the built-in microphone for voice recognition. It works otherwise for sound recording. I can use an external mic plugged into an external jack as that works. Go figure.

After Microsoft reently announced it's dumping Unix/Linux support in future versions of FAST Search, Doug asked whether Microsoft should make an effort to support other OSes. Readers say yes:

Yes, it should. Otherwise, I believe, Microsoft's actions become anti-competitive and actionable under antitrust laws, which were designed to prevent just this sort of thing. Example: In the '50s, to promote competition in the transit bus market, GM was required to sell its Detroit Diesel engines to other manufacturers, such as Flxible. AT&T was broken up because it stifled competition in the long-distance market.

In this case, unlike GM, Microsoft did not develop the FAST system but bought it, so that if GM ended up being required to market an engine THEY developed to competitors, then Microsoft certainly should not be allowed to take an 'engine' not developed by them and limit its use on competing operating systems.

It may not always be easy, convenient or hugely profitable to support consumer choice, but it is the right thing to do. Always.

Microsoft should always support other operating systems like Unix and Linux and not just Mac OS. SHAME ON THEM.

Although I understand why M$ doesn't want to support competitors' Unix/Linux desktops and workstations, I think this sort of business decision is short-sighted and ultimately self-destructive. Many of us in larger businesses have a mix of different OS workstations, like it or not, and when a particular vendor chooses not to support us, their customers, they had best expect us to re-evaluate everything we buy from them!

This is why my organization is now in the process of dumping all of our MS Office 2007 for open source OpenOffice.

The final straw between me and Sun was when they purchased a great, but not cheap, third-party tool. I had used it on many applications running on Microsoft Web servers. When Sun bought the product, they killed it for MS platforms. From that point on, I only had bad things to say about Sun and Java.

Microsoft should not be the same.

Finally, how do you use social networking -- if you use it all?

Yes, I do use social networking for both business and pleasure and try my best to keep them separate -- with one lone exception: Twitter. By compartmentalizing them, I have found it easier to ensure that I maintain the appropriate decorum for each. Unfortunately, I have found some unintended bleed-over because of actions of certain firms but I am working hard to rectify those leaks.

Twitter is the exception because I use it for more than simply networking. By following a variety of contacts (such as the Hutchinson News, the Detroit News, and KWCH-TV), I have found it to also be a great source of encapsulated news. I have also found that because of developments within the social networking realm, I rarely use any instant messaging services any more outside the office.

As a bank, we work to make sure that sensitive customer information does not leak. We monitor e-mail on our Exchange server and block access to other e-mail accounts and social networking sites. If Microsoft incorporates social networking into Outlook, then we will be looking for a new e-mail client that matches our security goals.

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to [email protected]. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on February 19, 2010


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