Why Vista (Still) Sucks

Warning: The following is a rant. Please feel free to skip if not interested.

What I was trying to do: I had only Ubuntu Linux installed on my laptop, no dual-boot with Windows. The DVD drive stopped working, so I contacted Dell support. They asked me to upgrade the drivers, I said I couldn’t because I wasn’t on Windows. And I couldn’t install Windows because, duh, the DVD drive is not working. Finally, it turned out that the drive had to be replaced, and within 24 hours, a Dell repair guy came to my home, swapped the drive for a new one and everything was working.

I was so happy with the Dell support, and the way they looked forward to saying yes. They solved a hardware problem within 24 hours of sending an email. Wow. That is unexpected because for most big companies, good customer service is an accident.

After this incident, I decided to install Vista so that I could do the BIOS or driver updates or any other similar situation that might arise in future.

Big mistake.

Situation One. Windows Update.

I popped in the Vista reinstallation CD given by Dell, it was installed in half an hour. I opened Windows update, showed some 71 security updates that has to be installed. Phew. It took a few hours to install. Waited for it to reboot. CRASH.

It asked me if I wanted to try normal booting or go to safe mode. I click on safe mode. CRASH.

I was puzzled, I thought this was a freak accident. So I redid the whole cycle and same result.

The irony is that I hadn’t installed a single third-party software, that is, if you don’t count the Dell WiFi drivers. All I did was run Windows update and it totally trashed the system.

The third time I reinstalled Vista, and then clicked on Disable Windows Updates. At this point, I didn’t care about Vista wanting to secure itself. I’d rather have a working ‘unsecure’ OS, rather than a OS that is secure and dead. In any case, I had bought a license to Norton Internet Security 2009 and put the responsibility of security to Norton.

Situation Two. External Hard Disk.

I connected my external hard disk so that I could copy back all my files, code and music back to the laptop. This disk is corrupted. Would you like to format? Whaaa??

I connected the external hard disk to the desktop running good old Windows XP. It worked flawlessly.

Another fail.

So I had to make the external hard disk connected to the desktop as a shared folder and access it on my laptop over the wireless network.

Situation Three. DVD drive.

The last two reinstalls, I installed the various drivers, etc. via the DVDs provided by Dell.

This third time, I suddenly realized, Vista doesn’t recognize the DVD drive any more.


Salvation. Ubuntu.

Worst of all, it seems Vista was working well for the past 8 months purely because it was a factory install. There is no stable reproducible method of reinstalling and running a Vista system.

Rebooted, popped in the Ubuntu CD, installation done. Everything is working. Including the DVD drive, the external hard disk, and I didn’t have to click on multiple ‘Next’ dialogs each for 5-6 different driver installations.

This was a good reminder for me on why Linux distros, especially Ubuntu, rock.

Side note. Lock-in.

I used to have a Mac PowerBook a long time ago. One of the reasons I wasn’t keen on continuing to use it was that most of the software was Apple-only and it felt like a lock-in.

I thought I was clever in switching to a normal laptop with a dual-boot of Windows and Linux. Yeah, freedom, baby.


Dell provides support only for Vista, not even Windows XP! I’ve become so frustrated with Vista, but I have absolutely no other option. I mean, sure, I could use a different OS, but then all the cool features like fingerprint recognition hardware, the webcams, etc. most likely won’t work. If this isn’t a lock-in, I don’t know what is.

Of course, things have changed now with Dell selling Linux laptops. And also Macs now run on Intel CPUs, which means that we can run Windows and Linux on Mac hardware. My next laptop would certainly be one of these options.

But, then again, I might end up with just a Android-based netbook, coding on Mozilla Bespin, storing files in the cloud, and hooking it up to a big display whenever I am doing serious work (like Jace does with his MSI Wind).

In either case, I will look forward to not having Vista.

Update : The day after I wrote this, Vista has a new way of messing with me – it now shows the DVD drive, but now refuses to show the D drive where I’ve stored all my files. Sigh.

10 thoughts on “Why Vista (Still) Sucks

  1. I have become a hard core mac-addict and try to avoid using a “PC” as much as possible! B-) I had never thought I would see such a day.

  2. and hooking it up to a big display whenever I am doing serious work (like Jace does with his MSI Wind).

    The eeePC that jace had (as linked to his blog) is now mine ;-)

    He has the MSI Wind…


  3. @Sriram: When I did the last reinstall, all the files were wiped. But if some good can come out of it, I can go through the ordeal again. How do I find the crash dump and the event log?

    @PizzaDude: I know what you mean!

    @TheCruiseManiac: Yeah, Jace had mentioned that :)

  4. Serves you right. Now you know how it feels on the dark side chuckles.

    All this way Windows was trying to secure you by not booting up properly. No. the safe mode was not safe either :) more chuckles

    Don’t go the cloud way. I don’t want to read another rant about “broadband” connectivity. Enough I say :D

  5. Get a nice macbook with enough juice on it and a nice 19″ or higher monitor for a dual display. (I have such a setup both at work&home)..

    You can have Mac/Linux/Windows all on the same PC via VMWare.

    I hardly boot into the Win7 beta I have on my Mac, but boot into the Linux VM Daily and keep in running. Sometimes 2 VMs. Hah!

    Macs are NOT a lock-in. They work as advertised. For a *NIX geek, Macs are an excellent choice.

  6. @Pradeep Yeah, since it is possible to also use regular x86 OSes now, a Mac is a good option.

  7. Look for a memory.dmp file in your windows folder. In your system properties, make sure generating full dumps is enabled. Worst case, if it is bluescreening and you cant get dumps, tell me what the text on screen says.

  8. I had an experience similar to Situation 1, but, with my brother’s Compaq laptop which came with Windows Vista built-in. After frustration reached the saturation point, I installed good old XP which worked. Anyways, I am happy with my Mac and XP in Parallels.

  9. Hi Swaroop, I know where the issue of Vista crashing is coming from. Instead of using the Vista CD/DVD supplied by Dell use the DVD/CD of Microsoft. That will install cleanly. I was facing a similar situation with the Vista HP DVD on my HP laptop. But when I used a Microsoft DVD, it worked fine. Not sure about Dell. But you can try.

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