Let’s be fair about Vista

This morning I read Preston Gralla’s blog about the trials and errors of Vista migration and came an uncomfortable realization that although a lot of the disappointment, frustration and occasional hatred for Microsoft’s latest Windows release is clearly the company’s fault, there is a measure that is also perpetuated by the media, and, admittedly, somewhat unfairly.

Gralla, who blogs on Computerworld, wrote about his own personal experience with a Vista migration. He and his 18 year old son decided to take on the task of moving his 80-something year old grandfather into the 21st century by moving him from an old Windows 98 PC to a new computer with Windows Vista.

Now, being an alumni for a large, renowned media outlet such as Computerworld, you would think Gralla would be completely prepared for this task. However, it did not go as well as planned, and in the end his conclusion was that there was no mystery surrounding the slow rate of Vista adoption. Vista was not popular, and no wonder. You can read about his adventure with Vista in Vista Fails the Grandpa Test

At first I took the article for what it was, a frustrating expedition into the world of Vista madness. By the time I finished reading it, I realized I wasn’t thinking this through myself. This wasn’t written by a novice user, it was written by someone who is aware of the issues surrounding Vista and is supposed to be prepared for such an upgrade.  This is a great story, but it is not great journalism, because it isn’t fair.

So, although I am not a Vista fan, I want to be fair. I posted the following response:

I understand Vista is not the easiest OS to migrate to and I have no plans to move to it myself. While I commend Gralla and Son for thinking ahead on the printer and scanner, I am somewhat confused as to why other items were overlooked. From what I read it seems that five hours of frustration could have been avoided had there been a little more planning and forethought.

For instance, why didn’t they copy the files with a thumb drive? It would have been more expedient than burning the files to CD. Obviously the old Win98 PC had a working USB port since the DSL modem was connected via USB. If it were a matter of drivers there are drivers available on the net to take care of it.

Second, didn’t anyone check all the devices and their connections on the old PC before purchasing the new one? I find it interesting that no one noticed the DSL modem was connected to USB until after the fact and assumed that simply plugging the modem into the USB port on the Vista PC would automatically connect it. Knowing this was a Win98 to Vista migration it would make sense to check device compatibility with everything connected to the PC, not just the printer and scanner.

Third, why on earth anyone would attempt to install DSL software from an old CD on a Vista PC and expect it to just work is beyond me. After all the articles and blogs on Computerworld about Vista and issues with legacy applications and drivers I would have thought Gralla would know better than this. I certainly am surprised that he was surprised it would crash the first time.

The USB memory stick would have eliminated the entire Gmail experience as well, although had he thought it through he could have used other methods to transfer the files over.

As for AOL, I won’t even go there.

Overall, while I will agree that from my experience this is somewhat typical of many users who migrate from an older OS to Vista, I also agree that they wasted five hours and two days of needless angst that could have been avoided had they thought this through and spent a few extra minutes planning it.

I would certainly expect this experience from the typical end user but not from a tech and certainly not from someone who purportedly knows the score, knows what he’s up against and blogs about it day in and day out on a high profile site such as Computerworld.

Now, that just fails me.

Rick Savoia
The Force Field for IT service providers

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