The iPad May Be Humorous, But Windows 7 Is Frustrating

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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