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Summary:

Microsoft has responded to the iPad announcement in a typical fashion, and finds the closed nature of it to be “humorous.” That may be, but the mind-numbing session I had with Windows 7 was pure frustration. I’ll take humorous every time.

Win 7 Start FAIL

It didn’t take Microsoft long to respond to the hoopla that is the Apple iPad, and its response was predictable. As David Worthington notes over on Technologizer, Redmond finds the closed nature of the iPad “humorous,” if nothing else.

“It is a humorous world in how Microsoft is much more open than Apple,” Brandon Watson, the director of product management in the developer platform at Microsoft, told me in an interview yesterday. With Microsoft’s platforms, developers can build whatever they want, and target a broad array of devices using the same skill set, he added.

This response from Microsoft is not surprising; what else can the company say? But it’s not exactly a fair comparison, given the appliance nature of the iPad vs. a full-blown PC. And sometimes it’s better when “less is more,” as I frustratingly proved once again today by wasting over an hour with Windows 7.

I fired up a PC I haven’t used in a while, expecting to have to sit through the mind-numbing Windows Update parade. What I was confronted with was worse than that, as the computer refused to boot properly. I found myself staring at the window above, telling me that something was wrong and asking if I wanted Windows 7 to fix itself. I told it yes and the fun began.

It sat and did something, I don’t know what but the hard disk was thrashing, for a good while. Eventually it indicated it needed to restore the system to an earlier point, so I said yes. This fired off another seemingly endless process that eventually required a reboot.

To Windows 7’s credit, the system then booted fine. The desktop appeared and for all intents and purposes everything was as it should be, the way I left it the last time. Which begs the question — what happened? How does a system hose itself between a successful shutdown and the next startup? And since the system was able to repair itself, how bad could things have gotten while powered off? It’s one of the Windows mysteries that I’ll never understand.

Now that the system was back up again, I fired up Windows Update to get that over with. Much to my surprise WU informed me that there were no updates available. Hmm. I decided that I would reboot the system to make sure it was really OK after Windows 7 fixed itself. That’s when it got even more fun.

The shutdown process presented me with a screen that warned me not to unplug the computer as it was applying updates. These must have been the updates that didn’t exist, according to Windows Update. I had to wait a few minutes while these updates, whatever they were, applied, after which the system rebooted.

The system booted up fine and presented the desktop in short order. I decided to experiment a little since I was having so much fun with this and ran Windows Update again. But this time it found six critical updates that had to be downloaded and applied. Another 15 minutes and the system needed another reboot. The shutdown screen went through the “applying updates” garbage yet again, and then rebooted.

The boot process went through a “configuring updates” process that took a while, after which the system finished the boot up. I finally, an hour after I started, had a desktop in front of me ready to go to work. The problem I was then too frustrated to get much work done.

Now, I agree with Microsoft that an open system is usually better than a closed one. But one thing I can state with certainty — humorous is far better than frustrating.

I haven’t touched an iPad yet but I will bet a lot of money that once I do I’ll never have an experience like I had with Windows 7 today. I’ve never had such frustrations with my Macs, and I can’t remember the last time I rebooted my iPhone. I’ll take humorous.

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  1. Hi James, Buy a copy of Rollback RX. I find it very handy in situations like this one.

    1. Why buy? It should be native. Macs dont have those.

      1. It natively went back to a restore point to resolved the issue.

  2. You could have not run Windows Update, done your work, not be frustrated, and let it run its updates on its own when you were finished.

    1. The failure to boot set the frustration from the get go. I’m still not comfortable with the failure to start initially.

  3. Couldn’t have said it better James. I’ve recently had similar issues on my Windows tablet. I feel at peace on my Macbook as it relates to stability. My life is complicated enough without unneeded BS from a PC when I just need to get something done. Mac haters can say all they want (I use both)…but there is no argument in this category. I’m soon to be 100% Mac.

  4. I’d take the very occasional and limited frustrations I’ve experienced with daily use of Windows 7 over the constant frustrations associated with the limited platform of of the iPhone OS any day.

    1. Wow, well close to 300 million people must love to be on a limited platform. To top it all off it runs on the crapiest cell provider too. This country must be loaded with masochists or the competition must really, really suck.

      1. In this case, the competition really, really sucks.

      2. Well, Mac bigots are always saying that the millions and millions of PC users are on a limited platform (Windows).

        So clearly Windows users must be ‘loaded with masochists’ or the competition (Macs) must really, really suck. ;-)

      3. We’ll, as we always say, personal computing is just that – personal. Are there people who will get good use out of the limited iPad? Yes. What I’m on about is James comparing Windows 7 to the iPad. Yes, the iPad will prove much more stable. But then again, so will old school Palm OS. But it’s limited. And, personally, far to limited for me for a slate device. No, I don’t expect my slate to be a miracle in a box, but still, too limited for me – even for what it is. I suppose a better tweak to the iPhone OS would’ve made it more appealing to me. I think Apple’s dumb mistake was to not introduce a completely new platform for their new device. But, knowing Apple, they probably will, just after everyone already bought the “first gen”. ;)

    2. touché the reason there are millions and millions of PC users is because my employer and many other employers mandate Windows so there is no choice so I wouldn’t call it masochism more like Stalinism. Then again the Mac is only marketed as niche computer for the graphics artist and musician and the general home consumer and lacks any utilities to run in a business setting. While Microsoft’s tools suck it’s still better than not having any at all. So Microsoft wins because they’ve killed (Netware, Groupwise, LotusNotes) or bought off (Visio, Great Plains, Solomon) the competition. It’s good to be a monopoly.

  5. i know this might be a little bit off topic here, but good thing i surf alot on handheld devices like the iPod Touch or smartphone, granted, its a small screen, but surfing the web on those is way faster and more responsive than PCs, i do use the PC if i want more screen real state or for posting comments, etc, but regardless, PCs tend to be sometimes on the slow side of things depending on the background processes it has plus not to mention flash 10.x (for some reason as the flash version goes up, the more process-hungry they get, I didnt have no problems at all when I was using flash 7 through 9, not as much as today though)
    Still, i do see frustration with PCs alot more than Macs, if its not the Windows Update, is the Internet Explorer, which most of the time kicks me out of the internet in Windows Vista (and XP) not that often, but sometimes, the internet explorer application just quits. I dont know if its because of the adobe flash. This is why i am thinking of purchasing one of those iPads when it comes out. Might not be as good as a PC or netbook, but at least it doesnt crash that often. Sooner or later though, i will be upgrading my systems to Macs, i dont have nothing against Windows PCs as i will still have some and continue to use, but for my main system, i will likely go Mac.

  6. I won’t say I’ll never own an iPad as it appears to be an intriguing appliance. I just get so frustrated over Apple’s proprietary mindset. Apple’s theory is it’s our way or the highway. Nah, I’ll put up with the hiccups involved with an open system and standards.

  7. As to what changed while shut down. I reckon a background update most likely happened while the machine was running. It finalised on the next restart and was rolled back when you restored.
    Sys events log would probably reveal the culprit.

  8. I get much less of this with Windows 7 than I did with XP and Vista, but there’s no question that there are a million processes that I’ve walked people through because I’m the tech geek (er, English professor) that I shouldn’t have to know or worry about.

    There’s nothing Microsoft his produced as easy to use as the iPad. It isn’t the top of my wish list, but I’m with you, James. Turning the thing on shouldn’t be that kind of time sucking adventure.

  9. Why your PC had a fatal error I don’t know. Wouldn’t you say that having the system automatically go back to a restore point is better than just blue screening or a reboot loop? I’m glad it worked out so well.

  10. So you’re telling me it’s more important for an everyday usage device to not act funny when you don’t use it for a month or two, than for it have features and functionality that many expect on modern smartphones, let alone a $500 computing device that’s trying to compete with netbooks?

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