I still hate Windows, even now

I still hate Windows, even now

Summary: After about 4 years of non-stop hot Linux desktop action for my own business, I still have to install Windows for clients every now and again.And I still hate it, even now.


After about 4 years of non-stop hot Linux desktop action for my own business, I still have to install Windows for clients every now and again.

And I still hate it, even now. I entered the product key to activate the license, and was presented with an 0800 number and a 48 digit reference number. Forty-eight. On a smart phone with curry-smeared slippery keys. Oh come on, please.

Of course, it hasn't worked, so I'll have to try again. And probably again.

I am very tempted to install Linux Mint 11, WINE and a Redmond-style theme and see if the client notices. But I won't, because I think they will.

Hey ho, back to the phone...

Topic: Software Development

Jake Rayson

About Jake Rayson

A web designer since the 20th century, I am a pragmatic advocate of Free Software and I use proprietary software when appropriate. I made the full-time switch to Linux back in 2007, and my desktop tools of choice are Linux Mint, Inkscape, GIMP and Sublime Text.

As a Front End Developer, my core skills are HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery, and my working life reflects my commitment to open standards and accessible websites (ie accessible by everyone, regardless of browser, platform, ability or technology).

For web publishing platforms, I use WordPress for ease of use and Drupal for more complex solutions.

I am also learning about Ruby, Rails, Sinatra and CoffeeScript. I like the minimalist Ruby Way. To this end, my personal portfolio website is built with NestaCMS.

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  • Hi Jake

    your post made me smile :)

    yeah, Windows is an old dog with a new bone. but hey, at least people have heard of MS so that gives us the hope they might find out what an OS is.. lol.

    I'm pretty neutral myself, I 'root' for FOSS, i consider myself part of the FOSS community, but i know in my heart, there are scores of people who would get such a fright at linux error they would never use a PC again lol.

    Ubuntu IMHO is close to Mac, but not Windows in acceptability, what i mean is i think a Mac user might switch or use it as a alt because they know what an OS is, but that leaves huge swathes of non technical people (who dont even know how to check their email) with non compatibility and a lack of understanding of installation programs (exe, deb, dmg). Ubuntu (i know you were talking about Mint but.. :S ) is close but i find prog crashes frustrating. Something that is easy in Ubuntu can be hard in Windows and vice versa. I just couldn't get a film editor to work in Ubuntu i tried and tried, every one in software centre, 5 mins in Windows and wala!

    I'd give Ubuntu two to five years to catch up to Windows for prog consistency, and were pretty close to Mac just now, my ratio is around 5 Ubuntu crashes to my 1 Mac and 10 Ubuntu crashes to my 1 Windows.. (although the sloooow down is very significant in Windows and then there the BSOD).

    hey you could just hackintosh it for them :P

  • Jake - I feel your pain. To make this particularly awful, consider having to read those 48 digits over the phone to someone in German (or any foreign language, for that matter), when it is not your mother tongue, and to be blunt about it, it isn't the mother tongue of the person on the other end of the phone either. Then, once you get them all read and understood, that person has to read back another (different, of course) 48-digit number. Ugh.

  • In 50 years if you showed someone for the first time a machine with both Windows XP and Windows 7 on it, which would they assume was produced first?

    Looking forward via modern simpler phone interface development, I actually think it would be harder to decide than you think. Once you use both for a while, there are a lots of backward unintuitive procedures with Windows 7, as though it went off on a tangent for a while. Especially with Windows 7 file manager, which I think is one of the weakest aspect of Windows 7. I actually find Windows 7 file manager unusable, and prefer OS X/Linux for sorting stuff on the network.
    It would actually be slower too on the given machine, than Windows XP too.

    Might be a harder process for that person (even if they are computer literate, with systems of the day) - its an interesting thought.
  • I was going to say that it had never happened to me in 21 years of daily Windows usage, but decided not to tempt fate ;-)
    Jack Schofield
  • Jake - It's no doubt this post will stir up a lot of feedback with similar experiences. For users that use Windows 100% of the time, I think they have become accustomed to the everyday problems and have learned to live with it. That's all that they know. For those of us that have seen better and have actually used Linux on a day to day basis, know that it is significantly better and simplistic to use, without all of the headaches of Windows. I too gave Windows many chances, I tried, really I tried, but it failed on me so many times (and it still does today) that I decided enough was enough and I couldn't be happier using Linux full time now.

    In fact, I chuckle to myself as I too had a similar experience with a Windows activation problem when helping somebody with Vista once. I was at a family reunion and a cousin of mine had a laptop with Vista. He had just gotten it a few weeks prior, and at the reunion he booted it and it was requiring activation, prohibiting him from logging in any longer. We were at a location without wireless but only a phone line. One option was to have the PC call "Microsoft" and activate, which we tried but it failed after about 4 attempts. Eventually, we decided it wasn't worth the effort at the time, and I'm not sure if he ever got it straightened out. It's too bad that Microsoft locks out its customers in its fight against piracy. Thankfully there's no piracy with Linux! :)
  • @apexwm
    Commercial laptops are almost always pre-activated so your story sounds very unlikely. Or maybe your cousin bought it in a pub, or something, so it was actually a pirate version.

    > Thankfully there's no piracy with Linux! :)

    Indeed, it's the desktop operating system you can't even give away ;-)
    Jack Schofield
  • @JackSchofield,
    Please be less cynical with the people on here - accusing people of 'sounding very unlikely' , ie. basically lying. It is perfectly possible. There are two types of key OEM SLP and COA SLP

    Computers, which are built by large manufactures that come with Windows Pre-Installed, come with two (2) Product Keys:

    A) OEM SLP: This key comes pre-installed in Windows, when it comes from the Factory. This key is geared to work with the OEM Bios Flag found only on that Manufacturer's computer hardware. So when Windows was installed using the OEM SLP key (at the factory) Windows looks at the motherboard and sees the proper OEM Bios Flag (for that Manufacturer and that version of Windows) and Self-Activates. (that's why you did not need to Activate your computer after you brought it home)

    B) COA SLP: This is the Product key that you see on the sticker on the side (or bottom) of your computer. It is a valid product key, but should only be used in limited situations (such as if the OEM SLP key stops self-activating for whatever reason). The key must be activated by Phone. (Note: All manufacturers that use the OEM SLP system are required by contract to include a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) sticker, that has a COA SLP key, on the computer)

    @apexwm's PC - Windows in this case, is likely to be using an OEM SLP key, but (for whatever reason) cannot see the OEM Bios Flag in the computer’s motherboard and is unable to Self-Activate.

  • Continued...
    To fix the issue, you will need to change out the OEM SLP key with the COA SLP key. The normal way to do this is to click the ‘Start’ button, right-click ‘Computer’, select ‘Properties’ and then click ‘Change Product Key’ (located in the lower right-hand side of the window). Enter the COA SLP key and follow the instructions in the Change Product Key Wizard.

    Alternate steps to change the product key

    1) Click the Start button
    2) Type: slui.exe 3 and hit the Enter key
    3) Type in the Product key from the sticker on your computer
    4) Click the Next button.
    5) You will be asked if want to Activate, click ok
    6) It will attempt to Activate by the internet and will return an Invalid Key error (this is ok, continue to step 7)
    7) Click the Start button
    8) Type: slui.exe 4 and hit the Enter key
    9) Select your location in the drop down menu and click the Next button
    10) The next screen provides the number to call to Activate by Phone

    NOTE: when you call that number, you will first hear an Automated Voice. If the Automated Voice gives you an option to talk to a Live Activation Rep., select that option. If not, do not enter any numbers. This should force the Automated Voice to transfer you to a Live Activation Rep. Trying to Activate thru the Automated Voice will not work, in your case; only thru the Live Activation Rep. will your Activation be successful.

    So @apexwm- the story is perfectly plausible, and actually show how convoluted and confusing the activation process is for legitimate customers. At least with Windows 7, Microsoft (from feedback) have made the unnecessary nagging far less prevalent.

    I'm pretty certain there was period where Microsoft forced reactivation of the OEM Version, if a reinstall took place, but again this might have been the result of using the COA SLP Key by mistake.
  • The idea that you can disinfect a Windows Machine using Anti-virus software is, personally I think - dead in the water, or soon will be (within a year).

    If you hate Windows - wait till your asked to recover a large network that is infected with tootkit TDL4!, genuinely scary stuff.

    As I've stated before on here if your using Windows - you really need make sure you have a good Image of each machine using Acronis/Paragon. 'Skin' your Windows installation using Dropbox, so that if you need to recover the system, data files are automatically downloaded back to My Documents from your Dropbox account, on restore. Have a secondary backup of data in case Dropbox starts to become a target. (An error last week gave full access - all Dropbox accounts were left open, no passwords required for 48 hours)

    Reading up on the latest rootkit TDL4:

    There are a few things virus writers have missed such as infecting the command line recovery tools such as bootrec /fixmbr to prevent the master boot record from being restored, but you can pretty much guarantee this will be targeted by the next version.

    TDL4 -The malware self protects itself - it monitors when the operating system is reading the disk sectors of the infected malware's disk location, then replaces the data sent to the operating with clean data, to prevent the file being flagged. This is seriously a scary development.

    It also does the same when Windows attempts to update the Master Boot Record, replacing write commands with a read command. So it appears to Windows, that MBR was updated when in fact the MBR Malware was left intact.
  • Jake, I felt your pain early on. I have stopped working on Windows completely except to install Linux. - which I do for free to impress them with the freedom of Linux. If you want to fool your clients install Zorin-os 5 which another derivative of Ubuntu but incredibly stable with a version of menu for each of the windows releases.
  • The stark truth is that proprietary software relies upon piracy. Windows et al actually *need* people to make pirate copies, otherwise they would paradoxically lose market share to Ubuntu Linux et al.

    @FewClues > If you want to fool your clients install Zorin-os 5
    Thanks for the tip, I'll be sure to investigate!
    Jake Rayson
  • Jack:

    "Commercial laptops are almost always pre-activated so your story sounds very unlikely. Or maybe your cousin bought it in a pub, or something, so it was actually a pirate version."

    I have never seen one pre-activated to this day, do you have an example of a brand that does this? Take for instance a new Dell or HP computer. At first boot, the user must agree to the Microsoft EULA and then activate Windows. However activation can be skipped at that time, and I believe that is what happened in the case I described. He skipped activation, and Windows happened to expire on him while he was on a trip.
  • My mother-in-law asked me to get a new laptop for her and said she wanted to spend about £400. I wasted a lot of very frustrating hours getting it to work for her and copying her emails and contacts from her old machine. The next time someone asks me to get them a computer and is only prepared to pay £400, I'll personally fork out the extra money and buy them a MacBook rather than have to deal with another Windows machine. By the way, for my day job, I run a team of windows programmers.
  • @apexwm "For users that use Windows 100% of the time, I think they have become accustomed to the everyday problems and have learned to live with it. That's all that they know."

    Quite judgmental don't you think? That's not all we know. I use Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, and Fedora daily. I have problems with it. It doesn't 'just work' like Windows, iOS and Android does. That's what users want. You've got to get over your biased oppinions, as I've said to you before, it's getting tiresome! Maybe the copy you were activating was pirated..? I suspect so. I've never seen an OEM or MVLS W7 PC fail to activate. Doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but I would say its rare. I think activation is one thing you fanbois are clinging onto, knowing in fact that W7 is quite good (it has problems too..) and thats it. Why can't you just accept that every OS, company, distro, manufacturer etc has its problems, and good points. You're on a one man battle to try and convince other people of your views! My personal view is that all OS's could be a lot better.. but they aren't.

    Like you, I too can list OS problems! (Out of the box, without any config changed that end users wouldn't know how to do..)
    Ubuntu - Can't move unity bar to second monitor, left hand side or move up down, or to the right.
    Fedora - doesn't seem to work on most Dell laptops I try, with the Intel HD graphics. Gnome 3 goes failsafe.
    OpenSUSE, software manager is poor, hard to download common apps like Dropbox etc.
    Mint - Too much browser intergration with 3rd parties
    W7 - libraries won't be networked, can't be indexed.
    WXP - Offline files are poor
    OSX - Only install what Apple say you can install, launcher not that great, only works on thier hardware
    Android - popular, so not that secure. Malware.
    iOS - As OSX.

    It's not all 'Linux is perfect, Windows is evil' they all have problems. I know I'm not going to change your view, but as you write articles too, I would like to see some less bias, and more balanced views. We can see through it..
  • @carbine - You are half right. Linux is not perfect. Far from it. But Windows is evil, period. The people behind it are evil. The things which are foisted on the consuming public in the name of Windows are evil. We all have to deal with it, most of those who write so negatively about it do in fact have to work with Windows every day, and often have to administer systems running it. It is, in many ways at this time, a "necessary evil", but the world would be a better place without Windows (and it would be a much, much better place without The Monkey Man Ballmer).

  • @meathome, Next time you need to transfer a profile(s) just use Windows easy transfer, (XP to 7 version is a free download from MS) easy as that, no headache necessary. Easy to over look that kind of basic stuff when you're involved with more complex issues......
    roger andre
  • Just for the record, I have a Windows 7 machine running Ableton, Majix Pro, FL Studio 8, Linux Multimedia Studio (Windows Version) and more, and the system is rock solid and goes faster on final mixdowns and 5.1 surround wav encoding than the equivalent Mac can (it would be even faster under an XP install)......So there we have it, Macs can take up the business slack and we can move the Windows machines into the creative sector Ha Ha.
    roger andre
  • @carbine. Could you explain "Mint - Too much browser intergration with 3rd parties" please.
    The Former Moley
  • @Moley, It's just the custom firefox extensions I'm talking about. I know it's not hard for us to remove them, but to a new user its quite annoying. Not that much difference from IE9 making it difficult to find Google as a search provider instead of Bing! I've looked it up, and Mint say they do this for revenue, the list of added search providers are all those that will give Mint pay per click on adverts. To get base Firefox, you have to do some serious fiddling. They even changed the standard icon (most people remember what to click visually)! Like I say, fine for us, a bit of a problem for new users, and for a system that is supposed to be modular. This is Lisa I'm talking about btw. I personally like Mint, everything about it does just work, apart from the lack of good open source apps. If only you could easily install android apps on Linux. Win win situation I think!

    @ J.A Watson, yes that may be true, but most people simply don't care. All my boss cares about, is what do the end users know and understand, how many people in the I.T. repository of staff can fix it, and how much in total it costs. Hence us using Windows for domain (car design, CAD work) and Linux for our HPC. The Linux nodes fall over too some times, and they only have to do one thing. Personally, I think Apple is the real evil empire! At least MS allow you to run on any x86 hardware, and run pretty much any program you want. Just my oppinion I know..