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Kill Bill Pt. III

July 22nd, 2014

Gates Must Pay

Over the last few days I upgraded my garage PC to Windows 7, so naturally, in spite of my near-total holiness and renewed character, I am having homicidal thoughts about Bill Gates.

The XP “crisis” was announced a few months back, and I got all excited and bought two copies of Windows 7. Then the drop-dead date passed, and nothing happened, so I procrastinated. I started thinking maybe Microsoft would wise up, in the hope of avoiding massive lawsuits, and continue providing limited support. They seem to be doing that, because I never stopped getting updates.

Anyway, with the CNC lathe nearly finished, I figured it was time to do something. I don’t want to set a PC up for CNC and THEN upgrade.

Elsewhere, I described my experience thusly: “Upgrading my computer’s OS was like being dragged naked over broken glass in hell behind a flatulent donkey with a boombox on its back playing ‘La Macarena,’ which is to say, relatively painless compared to previous upgrades.”

I guess that’s accurate. It was horrible, but survivable.

Microsoft–this will shock people–really screwed up the entire process. I can provide details to help other people who are stupid enough to upgrade.

First, you need the upgrade compatibility tool from Microsoft. It’s free. You run it, and it examines your PC carefully, sends all your personal data to the NSA, and then fails to tell you about all the things that will go wrong when you upgrade. It pretends to tell you, but it misses things. Run it anyway so you can tell people to shut up when your upgrade fails and they start yammering about the compatibility tool.

Second, you need to find out whether your existing programs, for which you probably paid several thousand dollars (unless you’re a typical software thief), will run under Windows 7. If you don’t have time to do this, I’ll help you: they won’t. It’s just way too hard for a hundred thousand overpaid software engineers to make advanced software that is capable of running more-primitive programs. And if it happens to make Bill Gates more money, by forcing people to buy new versions of Office, well, that’s just a coincidence.

I upgraded my ancient PC, and it ran fine, and then Windows 7 told me it wanted nothing to do with my ethernet card. So I had a problem that could best be fixed using the Internet, and the one thing it prevented me from using was…the Internet.

This PC was free, and the motherboard’s LAN port blew out early in its career, so there was a Netgear card in there. And Netgear had a patch to make it run with Windows 7. Laboriously, I moved the patch from another PC to this PC, and it did absolutely nothing but get my hopes up and waste my time.

By the grace of God, and for no reason I can now guess, I had a totally unneeded LAN card in my main PC, so I stole it, put it in the garage PC, and succeeded in getting connected.

Then the PC started quitting and refusing to start.

This is how computers are. A computer never has one problem. It always has a bunch of problems, all at once, that are unrelated, yet which work in synergy to destroy your will to live.

I went all through the stupid thing. I put in a day of work. I checked connections. I messed with the “on” switch. I got it going. Everything was fine. I left the room. I came back. The computer was off.

Eventually it occurred to me that the power supply might be hinky. In order to test it, I took it out, removed the cover, and electrocuted myself. That was actually unintentional and provided little useful data, but I did do it.

Today I drove to Tiger Direct and got a new power supply. I plugged it in, and the PC went insane, because I had moved some jumper or other. When I finally got it going, it told me it had 168 crucial Windows updates to apply. That was like an hour ago, and I think it has installed 3.

Windows 7 is actually pretty good. When I say that, I feel like a cancer survivor saying dysentery is pretty good. But it’s really not bad. I had always thought that 7 was Vista, which is three levels worse than cancer, but it turns out it’s just XP with fewer landmines.

I still haven’t installed my more-expensive Windows programs. I am positive Finale won’t work, based on the fact that I really like it and want it to work.

Windows 7 has a fairly stupid way of making SOME random programs (i.e. not the ones you care about) work. They don’t tell you this when you install it. You have to download and install a continent-sized program called XP Mode. Then XP Mode disappears, and you can’t run it. That’s because you didn’t install Virtual PC, which Windows didn’t tell you about, when you installed XP Mode. So now you have to install Virtual PC, which takes another year and a half.

When you get all that done, you MAY be allowed to install your old program, in a fake XP window.

Or not. And if the answer is “not,” and you have to buy more programs, giving other billionaires just like Bill Gates even more of your money, well, that’s just a coincidence.

Now my PC is lying on its side with the updates running (or not), and I can’t put it back together until it gives me the go-ahead.

If you try this yourself, may God be with you, because Microsoft definitely will not.

12 Responses to “Kill Bill Pt. III”

  1. The Duke of Macintosh Says:

    You really made this one easy for me:

    BUY A MAC.

  2. Steve H. Says:

    Still waiting for you to give me the $3000 it takes to buy $500 worth of Mac.

  3. Ruth H Says:

    Some programs, like Work Perfect, have a little fixer program to run on 7. Others will run but ask every single time you open the program if you really, really, really want to run it. Yes, yes you do. why won’t they learn? Part of the buy new software programming built into every computer ever made. Bar NONE.
    I still need to put that 7 on my husbands computer but maybe his will go out and he will buy a new one.

  4. Randy Rager Says:

    The best way to upgrade a PC is as follows:

    1. Order $1100 worth of parts from NewEgg ($650 if you just need a basic machine, but don’t come crying to me if what you’re doing doesn’t work without a video card and a decent amount of RAM, or if it’s agonizingly slow without a SSD, which thanks to Crucial and the magic of Capitalism is actually getting affordable these days).

    2. Assemble components.

    3. Install Windows, then do 130+ updates. Yes. On a new machine. I’ve done this twice in the last three months, I’m feeling your pain.

    4. Use the old machine for something useful. I’ve seen some amazing clocks that use old motherboards as backing. You could turn the case into a doorstop. And since you’re going to need to destroy the hard drive anyway to keep people from getting your personal data, may I suggest target practice?

  5. Steve H. Says:

    I expect to get like 3 more years out of this thing for $65 (OS) and $40 (power supply which would have gone bad anyway). I can live with that a lot easier than the total hell of building a new PC.

  6. Randy Rager Says:

    Total hell? Something must be wrong with me, I’m starting to actually enjoy building them.

  7. Michael Rittenhouse Says:

    Technologically, we are still in the Model T era with computers.

  8. og Says:

    I did exactly the same thing about a year ago. Im very pleased with the result, but it did take a while to get there.
    I dropped office and installed Open Office and i have been very pleased. It does everything office did but free, and very cleanly.

  9. Steve H. Says:

    I have had no problems with Open Office. I’m glad there are people out there who feel like writing free code for the rest of us.

  10. blindshooter Says:

    That was a fair description of the very process I went through a few months back. I have one more that was already running Win 7 that had a hard drive die with no recovery disks ( my sisters machine) so I will have to go through the validation process with M$. Great fun reading this, thanks

  11. Randy Rager Says:

    You guys make me want to start a business.


    Would it appeal to you (any of you, not just Steve) to have someone you can sit down with one on one, someone who knows computers and doesn’t mind building them, a concierge of technology if you will, who will listen to your needs, work out a build and then order the parts, put it together and install the software?

    I’m just curious to know if there’s a market for this sort of thing. I’d love to make house calls.

  12. Steve H. Says:

    If I were willing to spend money on a consultant, I would also be willing to spend money on a new PC, which is a lot easier. But maybe other people would enjoy the company and conversation.