Windows XP is sitting there, taunting me. With all the lip service I paid to Linux yesterday, I’m still a Windows guy. I may play around with Linux systems, but when it comes down to getting some real work done, Windows it is. That’s where I feel most at home. And, like a lot of people, I’m sure, I’m still using Windows 98. I know it’s getting old and hairy, but 2000 takes too many steps backwards from 98’s ease-of-use. And then there’s XP. Poor, bittersweet XP. The melding of 98 and NT that was so eagerly anticipated while it was still in its Whistler phase. I like XP. I’ve worked on a couple of computers that had it, and I have a 120-day trial CD that I was running this summer. Of course, the 120-day trial really turned out to be 14 days because of Product Activation. And that’s where the love-hate dynamic goes sour. That’s the reason that I’ll probably never actually fork any cash over to Microsoft for their latest and greatest, because of Product Activation.
I’m not worried about Activation because I want to steal copies of Windows. I’m worried about it because you need to reactivate every time your hardware configuration changes too much. And if you look at the normal lifespan of a computer at my company, you’ll see that I’d be on the phone to Microsoft more than with my wife. I’m a one-man IT department, just me in my basement with a couple of screwdrivers and a fleet of beige boxes. I buy new computers for the company at the rate of about one a month. The new computers always go to the people who need them the most — engineers, drafters, graphic arts. And I try to make the transition to a new computer as smooth as possible; when someone gets a new computer, I take the hard drive out of the old one and install it in the new one. So, as far as they’re concerned, it’s the same workspace the same copy of Windows, just with a different engine. They don’t have to waste billable hours putting all their settings and preferences back just the way they like them. In the world of Windows XP, though, that computer would require a call to Microsoft to reactivate.
The old computers that I replace are still pretty fast, top-tier material. So I follow the trickle-down theory of computer upgrades, and I look for someone in the middle tier who could be bumped up: they get the faster computer. Again with the hard drive swap. Again with the Activation. Total calls to MS: 2
Then there’s always the bottom tier. Believe it or not, my company still has quite a number of computers running at 233MHz. So, I take that old middle tier box and bump someone up. And run to the phone. At this point, if I was running XP, I’ve now had to call Microsoft three times to reactivate those three computers. And remember, this happens once a month. 36 times a year. Three dozen calls to Redmond, just because I’m trying to drag my company in to the 21st century. They can go to Hell if they want me to live that kind of pain.
Those two weeks with XP were a lot of fun; there are so many things I have to fight with in 98 that XP makes effortless. If he wasn’t screwing me over, BillG would have my money right now.