The iPad May Be Humorous, But Windows 7 Is Frustrating

96 Comments

It didn’t take Microsoft (s msft) long to respond to the hoopla that is the Apple (s aapl) 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.

96 Comments

Ticonderoga

When it comes to tablet usage, there are two things that Windows consistently fail to deliver, while iPad will probably be able to provide,

  1. A touchscreen targeted application launch screen. Desktop icons does not work well since they get rearranged with screen rotations, and the start menu is just too small.

  2. Scrollbar replacement. Default scrollbars are just too small and too close to the side of the screen to use with touchscreen. Windows need either better finger gestures, or way bigger bars!

It would be a wonderful news if anyone can point me to third-party applications that achieve these objectives.

AAAAA
  1. It’s easy to increase the size of the scrollbars in Windows 7.

Go to Personalize -> Window Colour -> Advanced Appearance Settings… -> Click on the scroll bar in the example window, and type a new size in. You can make them very fat and touchable.

  1. Put the system into High DPI mode. This will automatically make all the standard UI widgets larger.

  2. Windows 7 already supports inertial finger scrolling in most apps automatically if you have multitouch hardware.

I have an HP TouchSmart configured like this at home, and it’s very usable as a touch only device.

Ticonderoga

Thanks for the scrollbar tip, widening the scrollbars certainly make the touch experience much better on my resistive touchscreen.

It’s sad that inertia scrolling is not available on single-touch screens, as I don’t see why it can’t be implemented.

ashga

frustration = not being able to im, browse the web and stream music at the same time!

humorous = a device larger then a phone that won’t let me im, browse the web and stream music at the same time!

James are you sure MS are comparing it to windows as quote above says “Microsoft’s platforms” which could mean Windows Mobile Windows CE heck even zune!

Danny

@Adam

Yeah apple does not put help on the fron page to keep people like you thinking that macs don’t have issues but have you ever delved into the forums there? A ton of hair pulling – of course, if there is too much screaming and moaning about a problem apple just closes the thread. That’s when you you aren’t crazy.

@aaaaa

Because the greatest trick apple has ever pulled is convincing people that any issue with their mac is user error. While windows has convinced them that any issue with they have is bill gates fault. The great thing about the embarrassing link you pulled up is that the orginal story about his macbook crash reveals that he had to take into the store to get it repaired.

For the record I use windows and macs all day long and find them both eay to use and both deeply flawed though weirdly our business/household record with mac hardware, especially the first intel laptops, is notably worse than with pc stuff.

AAAAA

“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.”

How quickly some of us forget.

aaaaa

Why is there always a double standard against Microsoft products?

http://jkontherun.com/2008/05/28/os-x-update-cra/

OS X update crashed my MacBook Pro
May. 28, 2008, 2:18pm

“Sheesh. Just when I got my MacBook Pro fixed and running well with a brand new logic board along comes Apple and the OS X update released today that bricked the MBP. Yep, I was running fine and dandy and feeling good about everything on the MacBook Pro and the software update trashed it. It downloaded and installed fine, indicated it was “patching files”, and then never would boot up again. Every time it tried to boot up I’d get the desktop background and the Dock and then error boxes.”

MitchNYC

I have a Windows 7 laptop that is always doing something. The hard drive is always working. There’s always some update that slows the machine down. It’s a brand new system! It’s not that different than what happened under Vista. I’ll take my MacBook Pro any day. It only does stuff I tell it to do. It does it elegantly. That’s why Tablet PCs and the like haven’t taken off. Who wants that experience on the go when you are trying to get stuff done. I’ll take an iPad that does less than a TabletPC that does a lot but very poorly.

Nikolai

Oh, I also wanted to mention that at least three iPhone owners I know have said that they need to reboot them on a semiregular basis. I’ve never asked the others, but they probably do, too. I had to reboot my WinMo phone just a couple days go, though I don’t recall the last time before that. My wife’s Android phone also needs it from time to time, and will periodically go completely wonky (disturbingly, it will sometimes crash on an incoming call).

I don’t put much stock in claims that any one platform is really that much better than the others. I think they all mostly work… most of the time.

Nikolai

The last time I had an experience with a Mac was a monbth or two ago. A friend of mine wanted to show me his new Mac Mini. He brought it up from sleep, and immediately a window popped up to demand a password for an update to iTunes, after which it demanded a reboot. The whole process took so long that he didn’t have time to actually show me anything.

I’ve had similar experiences with Windows, of course (though not from Win7), so I’m not really judging, but it WAS a great opportunity to make fun of my friend :)

Sivan

I’ve asked myself what are they updating with such frequency and I think it’s inherent to Microsoft trying to do everything and compete with everyone with Windows.

The result is a bloated and hopelessly complex OS that’s tethered to Microsoft for life support. Buyers should really take this aspect of Windows into account, especially with mobile computers that can’t run virus scans and updates on the go. It’s out of control.

GoodThings2Life

James,

A couple have suggested exactly what I’m thinking… this sounds more like a hardware failure, and more than likely a hard drive failure. The thrashing initially is a full CHKDSK to verify the disk contents, and when it can’t verify system files it will use the next best thing– a system restore point.

Now your guess is as good as any on what caused it… I’d start by looking in Event Viewer though to see if there are any “Disk” or iaStor (Intel ATA Storage) entries in the Windows System log.

Also, I 100% agree on the irritating behavior of Windows Updates… they need to stop this nonsense of making me install, reboot, install more, reboot! It drives me up the wall and has done so since Windows Update was first introduced. However, to say the Mac OSX update experience is much better (multiple hundred MB updates every cycle sucks… at least Microsoft’s are small) is ludicrous. How about you put down the MacBook a month or more and see how many updates it makes you install?

At the end of the day, your Windows system is running… and it’ll do anything you want it to do. Try saying the same about the iPad. It’s simple because it’s limited. Period.

Luscious

I can’t speak for your situation James, for I am yet to jump over to Windows 7 (and don’t use a mac), but I can mention from experience that a system repairing itself is far, far better that a BSOD and hours spent on suggestafix.com. My move from XP to Vista has seen hardly any crashes and problems, with the system fixing itself up and “knowing” when something dire has happened.

The very few problems I’ve experience on Vista have always been due to third party software misbehaving, and not the OS. Time spent getting things just right for me has been the result of either a lousy programmer or older software that needed tweaking to work.

As someone else said before, I’d much rather spend time tinkering with an open system than be constrained by a closed environment that restricts my productivity.

Gareth

And you think an iPad is going to solve all your problems? A closed system with no multitasking or flash…I’ll stick with Windows thank you.

Gary

@WHERE ARE YOU LIVING: Come on. Seriously, if you’re going to attack someone and call them an idiot, at least use spell check, since you obviously can’t spell yourself. Otherwise, who looks like the idiot?

netwiz

James, while I have no doubt that your software issues with windows 7 are frustrating, I’ve never had any issues with any windows OS other than the occasional and inevitable virus. I will say this though, I’ve had numerous hardware issues with one of my windows PCs (which is still running btw off of a USB drive with puppy linux.) Here’s how it went down…

The first issue was some sort of ram failure which after a couple times of failing caused my hdd to die. well, lo and behold that problem was easy to fix since I had a leftover usb drive. I installed puppy on the drive and that worked for a while. I planned on fixing the whole thing eventually; that is until the screen cracked for no apparent reason.

Now, it just sits in a random corner for when a visitor comes and needs to connect real quick. I guess the point of this story is, that windows works fine for me, but the hardware on the system I had just wasn’t adequate. That said my current PC seems to be built like a tank and I’ll likely be keeping it around for a while before I upgrade.

Brett

I am yet to have an issue with windows 7, never had an issue with vista, only had hardware compatibility issues with xp (back in the day when it first came out). Yet I have had nothing but constant problems with OSX, everything from system crashes to software/hardware incompatibility. I blame it all on user error in the end.

I guess my point is it doesn’t matter what OS you use, they all have their issues and most of their issues boil down to user error. Not saying yours was user error, but its unfair to broadly bash Microsoft due to this and praise Mac. I could go around praising Windows and bashing Mac over my experience, but I feel its unfair to bash Mac just because I personally have had a bad experience with it.

Jake

What’s the point of this post? What does an issue with Windows have to do with an iPad? You don’t provide any information about the problem you experienced or the computer you had the trouble with so we have no idea what caused the problem. How do we know it wasn’t you? Are you honestly claiming that nobody has problems with Apple products just because you don’t?

Maybe you should take a look at this post from last year before posting such obvious flamebait: http://jkontherun.com/2009/10/28/macbook-pros-have-hard-drive-problems/. If that’s not enough then you could check this one out for something a little closer to home: http://jkontherun.com/2008/12/11/mac-firmware-up/. It kind of casts the “I’ve never had such frustrations with my Macs” comment in a different light ;)

prethought

The point he’s trying to make is that Microsoft requires quite a bit of background knowledge to make things happen or have to provide any information about the myriad of problems you run into while running Windows. The people that will buy the iPad will not need to know what a missing NTLDR is or why MS DTC is complaining about a broken .NET framework. There were many mp3 players before the iPod came out. What Apple did was make it simple for the less than tech savvy. Apple made nerdy smartphones sexy to the mainstream consumer. This is why Windows Mobile is irrelevant because it takes too long and you have to jump through too many hoops to do anything useful with it. That’s what Apple is betting on with the iPad and exactly why James wrote what he did. If you can’t see that then you are just way too entrenched into the technology to see the big picture.

Jake

What a lot of nonsense. If that was the point he was trying to make then he should have just said it. Instead, he just wrote a puff piece to get another iPad reference at the top of the site. Haven’t you noticed that the most pointless device in history is occupying all the slots in this new section at the top of the site.

If you think that obscure problems are restricted to Microsoft’s products then I’m afraid you’re living in a fantasy world. All technology has problems and Apple’s products are no different. Just check the forums of most Apple sites and you’ll find just as many complaints as at any other forum for any other company’s products. I’m running Windows 7 on numerous devices at home and at work and haven’t encountered any problems that have required the sort of arcane knowledge that you claim is necessary. Would you be satisfied if I claimed that Microsoft’s problems were problem free? Of course not and you shouldn’t be satisfied by this nonsense from James either.

You can do better than this James.

iDevice

The most pointless device in history? You’ll soon learn just how wrong you are. Wait until the iPad is iCloned (imperfectly) to see how “little” impact is having on the world. This is a great article from jk, but the best you can do is come up with your fluffy nonsense?

prethought

It’s not that the obscure problems are restricted to Microsoft it’s the frequency of them. If you haven’t encountered any issues with Windows then you obviously don’t do much with it then. Or the issues you do run into you don’t give a second thought to because it’s just par for the course. Something an average user wouldn’t think as such. I use the entire suite of Microsoft products not just the consumer side. Microsoft is an unfortunate necessary evil. The hacks I have to do to make things work is ridiculous. These aren’t things I have come up with these are things writ as the way to run their product by Microsoft and pay $250 an incident to solve. I guess you could say I’m a little bitter yes. That’s because there is no other game in town for the small to medium size business other than Microsoft so I am forced to eat their garbage. And if anyone chimes up with Linux, Linux isn’t there yet for the small to medium size business. Maybe for Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase with unlimited budget to build things from scratch but there is no other out of the box solution Microsoft hence the bitterness.

Marek

“But it’s not exactly a fair comparison, given the appliance nature of the iPad vs. a full-blown PC”
You could compare it to Windows Phone. It has pretty much the same appliance nature and is still open.

“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.”
This screen pops up AFAIK only when you shut down your computer abruptly. If you would have selected “No”, it would most likely boot up properly. It basically runs a scandisk application, which takes a while. Then you decided to restore it to a previous state, which obviously takes time. Your restore point was probably made in the middle of installing an update (before restarting) and at that point Windows update won’t show any new updates (since you haven’t finished installing all of the current updates). When you restarted, the instalation of the current updates finished and new ones where displayed.
Mystery solved?

CyKiller

Only thing that really was solved is that the editor is a horrible explainer of windows OS operations and hardware failure.

jason

Agree to your comment. If you knew last time you turned off the computer was fine then just ignore the fixing process. Choose normal boot up(took mine to boot up in 30 secs).

You will have to be really unfamiliar with windows system to choose do window fix in this scenario.

Stephen

Microsoft has little to show in innovation in years. Microsoft so-called “open” tablets have failed in the marketplace. Zune and Windows Mobile have failed to ignite and their origami project netbooks totally failed as all they were was small (now so cheap) Windows machines that had a very bad UI that nobody liked! Microsoft also predicted the demise of the Mac, the iPod and the iPhone!

Gavin Miller

Netbooks are a failure? Eh?

Windows Mobile? While long in the tooth in its current UI guise, it’s hardly a failure! It’s been powering devices since the nineties, both consumer and commercial.

prethought

Windows Mobile is still a steaming pile of junk. I can’t believe how much time I wasted scripting out a batch installer to reinstall all of my apps when a new ROM update would come out. So what if it’s been powering devices since the nineties so has PalmOS and Symbol they are all dead technology compared to the iPhone or Android or the new webOS.

prethought

Yeah Windows Mobile has had almost a decade of openness and has gotten no traction except for geekiest amongst us. Apple has had a closed system for almost 2 years and they are sealing the coffin to Windows Mobile. When is Windows Mobile 7 coming out again? Now that’s humorous. Reloading every application on your device again after a ROM update now that’s frustrating.

where are you living

Windows 7 is frustrating!!!
buddy, you are an real idiot. I have apsolutely no doubts about this:(

marty

windows 7 is not much better than all the others…it’s amazing how much good press it got from the blogospere…same ol…same ol

Adam

I went to Apple.com yesterday and was presented with slick looking products and an easy to use website.

I then went to Microsoft.com and the home page had –

‘Trouble with your computer, Learn how to easily fix common PC problems’

uncgpc

Really? You went to the website of a company that sells computers and got a pretty web site for purchasing pretty computers? Then you went to the web site of a company that sells software and were presented with help about the software?

Adam

….I though Apple sold software as well as pretty computers….and unless I’m mistaken Microsoft sells hardware as well as software…

I guess it’s the difference in the approach of the vendor that made me smile.

Keith

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?

GadgetMerc

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.

bluespapa

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.

Robin Capper

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.

lowbar

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.

Mauricio

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.

Joshua

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.

prethought

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.

Doug

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. ;-)

Joshua

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”. ;)

prethought

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.

Gary

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.

Adam

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.

ramfrancisuk

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

GadgetMerc

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

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