Sleeping with the enemy

It has been a couple of weeks since I jumped back into Windows, and suffered the much maligned Vista. I guess it’s time to list down what I like and dislike about Windows Vista.

Before I begin, I should mention I was a Windows user from way back. The first computer I owned (but not the first ever computer I used) was a DOS 6.2 box, with Windows 3.1. Up until about two years ago, a few months before Vista was released, I decided to jump into Ubuntu camp. Frankly, all the negative press about Vista was what gave me the final push.

So, you could well imagine my great reluctance to jump back to Windows (and no less that the most evil of them all: Vista). But, it was a forced decision; I have no choice. :cry:

Now, a few weeks into using Vista, here are the list of things I like (gasp!) about Vista, as well as things I do not like.

Things I like about Vista

It’s not difficult to find things I like about Vista, since they are almost all in-your-face.

  1. It’s shiny.
  2. It got some cool seamless fade in and out effects.
  3. Everything appeared to be glowing. Even the screensavers have been updated to glow.
  4. The included wallpapers were awesome.
  5. It’s shiny. Wait, I said this already.
  6. After the first few times, it boots significantly faster than Ubuntu.

Things I dislike about Vista

Broadly, my complaints about Vista can be categorised into three parts.

  1. I can’t get it to do things I wanted it to do, unless I started digging and removed / disable a bunch of crapware.
  2. I can’t get it to stop asking me silly questions.
  3. I got free crap from Windows update without being asked. Gee, thanks a bunch!

Mud wrestling

To be fair, the first complaint is not really Vista fault, but due to third party crapwares that came with the OEM installation. I blame Lenovo for adding useless software into a perfectly working system and as a result, breaking things and creating all sorts of unnecessary annoyances.

First, I tried numerous times to make Vista connect automatically to my home WiFi. Each time, it failed and I have to manually connect after each boot. I uninstalled the Lenovo computer management software, and suddenly, the problem is gone.

Second, I could not prevent the LCD display from automatically turning off after 5 minutes. Tried adjusting the Vista power management settings but it failed to work. I uninstalled the Lenovo battery management software, and the problem is solved.

Now, why would Lenovo add two software, which duplicate features already available in Vista? Not only that, it dumb down and break these features. Another gripe: there were no information about fixing these breakages in the internet. I know because I have been googling about them. The only thing I could find is more users complaining about the similar problems, but no solution.

Third, I tried initially to set the Windows Update to not automatically install every update without asking me. But each time I changed the setting to “Ask me first”, the setting magically changed back to “Update without asking me”. After some fruitless mucking around, I finally found the culprit: Norton Security Suite. Some where in the mess that was the Norton Security Suite UI was a setting to automatically stop any change to Windows Update settings. Great!

Broken record

The UAC is a broken record. You want to run this program? Yes. You want to run this program? Yes. You want to run this program? Yes. All because it lacks a white-listing feature.

Note: please don’t tell me to disable UAC. Fundamentally, it’s a good safety band-aid in a horribly broken Windows Vista security model. If only we have more well behaved applications, which don’t need administrative privilege to run.

Here’s a poison candy

Yesterday, I happened into a thread in Slashdot; someone complaint about Windows Update pushing down an unwanted Firefox add-ons. That’s right, you heard me. Windows Update installed an add-ons into Firefox behind your back. This add-ons is called “.NET Framework Assistance”.

If you use Firefox in Windows, you might want to check your add-ons, and see if you get the same free crapware from Microsoft without being asked. And here is the link to remove it. You need to muck around the Windows registry and Firefox hidden configuration to fix this one; it’s that evil.

Conclusion

Well, it comes as no surprise. I am being reminded again and again, the exact reasons I jumped from Windows to Ubuntu. With Windows Vista, the feeling of loosing control over my PC is reinforced again and again. Applications doing things it’s not supposed to. Applications want to be a server to find for updates (every additional server on your PC is another vulnerable point of attack). Applications adding components in places it’s not supposed to, and without asking.

Unfortunately, there is nothing much I could do about it.

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