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2011/04/17 My Experience with Windows 7
π 2011-04-17 01:01 in Public
While my main laptop vmware image is still windows 2000, because I can't bear the time it would take me to upgrade it, needless to say that some stuff doesn't work with w2k anymore, and now there even are things that don't work with windows XP. When you add the fact that XP is quite insecure as a default OS, it was time to look at upgrading to windows 7.

After too much time spent upgrading 2 machines, here are my impressions:

  • Microsoft, why do you make it so hard to get legal media from you when the software is heavily key protected anyway? You're only hiding it from your paying customers at this point... It's pretty pathetic that users can't just easily download a safe version of each release (including the enterprise one which I was after) from their website
  • While the newer interface is pretty nice, I have yet to find how to change display settings in file explorer (show hidden files or don't hide file extensions and stuff like that). By the way, why is it a good idea to hide file extensions again?
  • Junctions, really? First, Microsoft had to make bogus symlinks otherwise known as shortcuts, and when they realized that they were crap and didn't really work, they had to make junctions instead. Junctions are deep magic that is hard to create or deal with for a user, and they look exactly the same than shortcuts in explorer. Worse, you can't edit/modify any file in a directory you own if you got there through a junction and get no useful error message. In other words, they still fucked up symlinks!
  • It's pretty wild to see junctions with the exact same name than a file in a given directory. It makes no sense at all.
  • They moved things around, but 20 years later, there is still no way to know who owns a given file on the filesystem to know if it's safe to move/remove, nor is there a way to check the integrity of all files from a given software package, or the operating system (some software and the OS do their own somewhat, but no comprehensive way for the user to do that). Linux has had that for a good 15 years.
  • This then brings up to windows rot, or the fact that over time DLLs get corrupted, replaced by other incompatible ones, malware modifies the system, and hard drive problems or unclean shutdowns delete files. I've never ever had to re-install a single linux system because I didn't know what state it was in or how to fix it. I could always tell which files were missing, or corrupt by checking the file database and re-install necessary packages. With windows, you _still_ have to wipe and re-install the entire system. Microsoft, hello! This isn't 1995 anymore (actually linux had fixed that problem around 1995 already).
  • installing LJ4 printer was totally ridiculous, it took me close to 2 hours to get its drivers from microsoft update. Why? Well, if you install \\lj4\ it will allow to you click on 'get from MS update' instead of 'have disk'. When I was trying to instead install \\gargamel\lj4, it only gave me 'have disk', which I of course didn't have. Back in XP days it had ironically be much quicker to install.
  • speaking of MS update, it was pretty good and automated, but I eventually hit an auth loop with 'server requires user and password in 'a program running on tihs computer is trying to display a message'. This kept popping up because of some MS office update. The problem is that when MS update runs at shutdown or reboot, it has no way to display that message and just hangs without telling you.
  • It took hours to realize that I had a mostly hidden auth loop in access KB979440 update and infopath KB979441 update, which I had to manually blacklist for things to go back to normal.
  • All in all, while W7 had plenty of niceties, some of which I'll list below, crap like the points below which I all found in just 2 or 3 days, are just showstoppers to my considering windows a serious OS still. I'm actually fairly disappointed that MS still hasn't fixed them.

    On the plus side:

  • The new MS updates, my problem above notwithstanding, is pretty fancy.
  • It's nice that MS finally provides a proper anti virus/malware: microsoft security essentials. They likely didn't include it with the OS not to kill the 3rd party market out there, but it's a shame since most users will not install it as a result.
  • The OS is fairly pretty now. The addition of widgets is nice.
  • UAC and user switching are decent. You can now work as a user and more or less automatically sudo to root when required (I say 'root' since I was not able to create an administrator account since there seems to be a hidden one I wasn't able to reuse).
  • It's also interesting that microsoft provides software to mess with anti exploit protection bits (DEP, SEHOP, and others). EMET ( ), however caused software problems pretty early on for me, so I had to turn it off. I'm thiking of it as grsecurity for windows. Hopefully it'll improve to be more compatible with software.
  • So what's my verdict?

    Well, things are nicer, but I still cannot like or want to rely on a OS where I cannot track corruption and where I can't easily move a software package from one machine to another one without a full reinstall. Right now I'm supposed to spend literally >10H to re-install a bunch of garmin software and maps that I should just be able to copy over and get to run again, like I would on linux but which won't work on windows.
    Sorry, but this is just not acceptable.

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