I spent most of the weekend reloading Windows Vista from scratch on a friend's laptop. This was pretty much a worst-case scenario, because they had no backups or image copies of any kind, and the laptop is old enough that it came only with original Vista (no SP) recovery media. It was not one which had an XP "downgrade" option, so I couldn't get away from Vistaster that way, and it wasn't new enough to qualify for a free or reduced price Windows 7 upgrade, so I couldn't get away from Vistaster that way, without asking my friend to throw even more money at an old laptop. So there was nothing to do but suck it up and do the reload. Ugh.
Load Vistaster from the Recovery DVD. Elapsed time: about an hour. Then starts the fun. Connect to Windows Update, and after thrashing about for a while it says that there are 85 "critical updates" to be installed. Ok, do that... it takes well over two hours. Reboot, and connect to Windows Update again, in hopes that it will now be ready for SP1. Nope, Update says there are 4 more "critical updates" to install. Ok, do them, it takes 15 minutes or so, then of course the obligatory reboot, connect to Windows Update again... 2 more "critical updates". Install. Reboot. Connect to Update... 1 more "critical update". Install. Reboot. Connect to Update... 2 more "critical updates". Install. Reboot. Connect to Windows Update... 1 more "critical update"... Install... WAIT! It didn't demand a reboot this time, and it says there is one more update... Hooray, it's SP1! It's only been several hours, and at least six reboots, but we finally got to SP1.
Start the download and installation of SP1. That's going to take a while, so I go off to get a sandwich. When I get back I discover that wasn't the "download and install", it was only the download, because the idiots at Microsoft don't know how to ask all the questions at once, so after downloading it wants to ask if I accept the license and am really ready to install SP1. Well, no, what I am really ready for at this point is to turn this laptop into a frisbee, and send it out the window. But I retain just barely enough control to click the appropriate boxes, and actually get SP1 started installing. That takes about 15 minutes, plus another 10 minutes to get through the shutdown with its interminable "Configuring update, stage 1 of 3... stage 2 of 3....", then another 10 minutes to get through startup with "Configuring updates, stage 3 of 3....". Finally, it is up and running Vistaster SP1.
Of course, this is only "half way home", I need to get through SP2 and beyond. So back to Windows Update. This time it says there are 8 "critical updates". Download and Install, Reboot, connect to Windows Update... It is ready for SP2 already! As for SP1, download and install, struggle shutdown and startup with "stage 1.... stage 2... stage 3...", another hour is down the drain. Finally, up and running SP2.
Back to Windows update, only 3 "critical updates" found this time. Install and reboot, back to Windows Update again... and nothing found! Good heavens! Only the best part of 9 hours wasted on a job that should have taken an hour, but at least it is done.
This is what Microsoft considers to be an "Operating System"? This is considered to be "normal" for reloading it? Yes, I know that Vistaster is "out of date", and if you try to talk to Microsoft about it you can't even get them to say the name, much less admit that they ever produced, sold or supported it. But the only alternative is to "upgrade" to Windows 7, which involved paying Microsoft again - so they get a bonus for producing garbage? I learned a long time ago not to throw good money after bad...
As a closing note, here is a simple comparison with a Linux distribution. I didn't choose this particular distribution as an example because it is fast or easy, it just happens to be one that I loaded from scratch on a different system over the weekend, while I was waiting for the Vistaster laptop to load. I loaded Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala), from the original distribution image. I then went immediately to "Update Manager". It took about a minute to search and process, and then came back to tell me that there were 389 updates to be installed. I clicked "Install Updates", and less than 20 minutes later it was done. Rebooted, up and running, everything working normally. I double-checked for additional updates. Nothing to install. Done.
I hate Microsoft. I hate the garbage they produce, and I hate the people who produce it. It is an absolute disgrace.