An Evening of Failure and Stupidity 2: Stupid Harder

By Shamus
on Mar 5, 2015
Filed under:
Rants

No, this post is not a repeat. It’s a sequel.

OH MY GOSH these notifications are getting on my nerves. Windows update keeps popping up in the corner, telling me I need to update. So then there’s this break in my workflow where I have to mouse down there and hit the teensy-weensy ‘x’ to make the bubble piss off for another random interval. But if I miss, then I click on the bubble and instead of the bubble going away I get a popup window telling me about all the stupid shit Windows has for me to worry about. I could swear I turned these stupid notifications off.

So now on top of all the other crap I have to do, I have to ALSO find that setting and reset it to “I’m an adult and I know what I’m doing. I’m a busy man and I’ll do my upgrades on my timetable, not yours, Windows. You asshole.” (I think it’s actually labeled something else.)

At some point it downloaded some of the waiting updates. So now I get a popup, “You have downloads waiting to be installed.” So I dismiss that and INSTANTLY get another one telling me about updates NOT downloaded.

Sigh. Fine. Just to stop this constant irritation I’ll do the damn update. Just about the time I settle back into work, Windows popups up agin because OF COURSE it needs to reboot. I can either reboot now, or it can pester me until I give in. Fine. Get it over with.

So Windows goes quiet for a long time, like Deep Thought except really, really unlike Deep Thought, if you see what I mean. Then it blue screens, reboots, and is dead.

Shit!

I reboot a couple of times. It checks the disk. It runs the wizard to figure out what’s wrong, and about five minutes later it shrugs. I try to roll back the change I just did but the entire log of changes is blank. I can’t go back. Damn thing can’t even boot in safe mode. Just to twist the knife, the blue screen is too fast to see anything, so I can’t see the name of the driver or file that’s the culprit.

Time to get out the Windows 7 disk.

Except, the disk is unreadable. Other disks are fine, but it acts like this one is gibberish. I have no idea why. It worked just fine when I installed Windows 7 a couple of years ago, and it’s been sitting undisturbed in a paper sleeve in a plastic binder in a leather case on a nice shelf since then. It’s not like optical media degrades. So what happened. Great. So now I have to re-download the iso and burn ANOTHER disk.

So, I boot into Linux.

Looks like Microsoft removed the page where I originally downloaded the iso. It just gives a dumb-ass “Page not found”, but if you Google around it turns out they now want you to enter your product key to get a download link. Fine. I enter the product key. It takes the site a long, long time to give me a useless error message saying, “There was a problem.”

What? Network problem? Is the key bad? Those are two different problems with two different solutions.

I’m now trying to solve a Microsoft problem caused by trying to solve a Microsoft problem caused by a Microsoft problem. I’m approaching maximum anger level, here. I’m out of swear words, so much only choice is to start re-using them, only louder.

Wait! The other computers in the house all use Windows. (Except for my wife, who is Linux-only.) Although, they have Windows 7 Home and I’m (or WAS) running Windows 7 Pro. I get one of the Windows Home disks. Sure enough, it offers two options:

  1. Boot into my existing install of Windows and run setup from there. (Impossible, my windows is borked.)
  2. NUKE THE ENTIRE WINDOWS DRIVE and install Windows Home. (Uh, no.)

There’s no, “Just revert to default install and repair broken files” option, even though I know that feature existed in previous versions of Windows. I mean, I could understand if you can’t use Home to repair Professional, but the option doesn’t even exist.

I am so screwed. I’m not going to nuke my main HD just to install a downgraded version of an OS that I don’t even have a product key for. (Home and Pro keys aren’t interchangeable.) I really have a ton of work to do. I’m in the middle of several big projects. I’d be winning to run to the store and buy Windows 7 again, except:

  1. Money is tight due to some recent setbacks.
  2. Windows 7 is no longer sold anywhere reputable.

I don’t see a way out of this. I have a valid product key, but no disk. If I buy a new copy, it would have to be Windows 8. I really, REALLY don’t want Windows 8. I’ve used it briefly, and it’s maddening. And since this entire chain of rage and lost productivity is the fault of Microsoft bungling, I’m not feeling all that eager to give them any (more) money.

In a fit of desperation I go into DOS and poke around. I really wish I knew what was crashing the damn machine. It’s probably just one stupid broken file. If I could nuke it or replace it I might be able to get into safe mode and perform some kind of higher level recovery. This is hard because my DOS knowledge is rusty and (unlike Linux) the DOS terminal is awful and lacking in any sort of help.

I poke around using Linux, and I don’t find anything. I mean, the problem could be anywhere. There are a dozen blank logfiles in Windows here. Are these even used? Sorting by date, I can see that dozens of system files were touched. Without more to go on I have no way of knowing what’s causing this.

After another hour of more intense swearing and frustration I give up. I have to buy Windows 8. I have never resented a purchase more than this one. This is an outright injustice that I’m spending money I don’t have to reward a company that caused the problem to begin with.

From Linux, I log in to the Microsoft site, buy Windows 8, and click download.

Only…

It’s not an iso. It’s downloading a stupid exe file. An exe file that does not work in Linux. I’m so angry I can’t see straight. JUST GIVE ME A LINK TO THE ISO WHY DO I NEED WINDOWS TO GET WINDOWS YOU GIBBERING LACKWIT. Not only have I paid for something I didn’t want to people who manifestly do not deserve it, but I still don’t have what I need.

So now I need to use ANOTHER computer to download the exe so I can run it so I can download the iso so I can burn a DVD so I can blow away my Windows drive and lose all my settings so I can install an operating system I know I’ll hate so I can get back to what I was doing three hours ago. Actually, no. I have at least a day of re-installing, downloading, and patching. THEN maybe I can get back to work.

Number of times I typed a ‘V’ into this document when trying to copy & paste in Linux: Ninety twelve million hundred.

The Windows 8 DVD is done burning on my son’s machine. I guess this is it. Wish me luck.

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A Hundred!A Hundred!1201 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?

From the Archives:

  1. Henson says:

    Oh dear.

    Okay, so Metro sucks, but there are some things you can do to make it less sucky. I use Windows 8 at work, and after making a few changes, I’ve actually gotten used to the system. A bit. The main change is to have the system boot to the desktop instead of the Start screen.

    Here’s a place to start.

    • Trix2000 says:

      Windows 8, at its core, is not all THAT different from 7. At the very least, it seems to have all the features and most settings are similar. Appearance-wise it takes a little getting used to (mostly just because of the new Start menu), but 8.1 at least helped make it a little more tolerable. So its not sooooo bad if you’re used to 7.

      That said… I’ve always said that 8 is not really an upgrade from 7. It doesn’t really add much that I can tell is worth a purchase, and mostly just made me relearn where things were (its there, just… squirreled away somewhere).

      I hope 10 is better. At least we’re supposed to get the upgrade to that free, and I’ve always subscribed to ‘every other Windows version is good’.

      • Eruanno says:

        I, uh… know this isn’t really helping with the overall problem, but my experience with Windows 8(.1) going from Windows 7 was… surprisingly seamless. I turned off any program associations with Metro apps so it wouldn’t throw me into a silly fullscreen touchscreen app whenever I opened a .jpg, and… uh… that was pretty much it. I added whatever programs I normally use to the Start screen that I’d normally have on the start menu, customized the look with OblyTile and… it basically works like my Windows 7 installation did. Except it has a better copy dialogue, activity monitor and boots in 20 seconds flat.

        Useful shortcuts: Right-click windows flag (or hit Win+X) gets you a nice menu of Control Panel, Command Prompt, Shutdown/Sleep/Reboot and a lot more stuff.

        Win+C gets you the “Charms bar” which you will hopefully never have to use much because it’s kind of dumb.

        Win+S gets you the actually really capable search function that is actually really good this time around.

      • Michael Watts says:

        Having just moved from a windows 8 machine to a windows 7 one, there are two areas where I think 8 is superior:

        1. It’s much nicer about pestering you to update. By default, the notification allows you to postpone for up to a day. And, and this is huge, the “your computer has installed updates and needs to reboot” dialog will interrupt you if you’re doing something fullscreen. On windows 7, that dialog always seems to pop up invisibly behind whatever is going fullscreen (e.g. a youtube video) and then, 15 minutes later, my computer reboots without warning because I never saw the dialog.

        2. If you want to have another IME so you can type in another language, windows 8 is vastly superior to windows 7. This is significant for me, but probably not for anyone else.

  2. Incunabulum says:

    I recently reinstalled Windows.

    It was three days straight of ‘Windows has updates to install’ – OK, install them, reboot and ‘Windows has *more* updates to install’

    • Athan says:

      Oh yes, I do really wish that MS made available a regularly (say every 6 months) updated ISO of current supported OS with all current updates already applied. I had to do an ‘in place’ re-install of Windows 7 because it plain wouldn’t install a couple of important updates and it took quite a while (even with a nice SSD and ~18Mbps download) to go through the updates/reboot/more/updates/reboot/yet more updates… cycle.

    • MichaelG says:

      Yes, I have a disk in the process of crashing (throwing errors every now and then, developing bad sectors) and I STILL won’t replace it, just because reinstalling Windows and all the apps is such a pain!

      • Theodolus says:

        You may have valid reasons against this, but I would suggest picking up a disk that is at least as large, if not larger and then use a bootable CD with Clonezilla on it to clone your OS disk over to a shiny new (and not failing) disk. Simple solution that I’ve used on a number of computers with failing hard drives at work.

        edit: just make sure you have both disks plugged in via SATA or whatever (just not USB 2.0) or it will take a mind boggling amount of time to clone.

  3. Infinitron says:

    You know that old Chris Rock skit where he explains when a white man is allowed to say the “n-word”?

    Well, at this point, you’re probably allowed to pirate.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Indeed.If you already have the product code,you can use the torrents to get your hands on an iso.Heck,you dont even have to download the crack,but just the disk itself.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        Excatly. In fact I remember once upon the time working in a company that needed I think a new Windows Server Install. So the rang Microsoft to buy a new install. They bought it but Microsoft representative didn’t or couldn’t send the disc so his solution? Advising them to go and download ISO from torrents.

        Allthough there is one problem. I don’t know how much expirience Shamus has with dealing with torrents so I easily see him falling into some common pitfalls* and trying to download a faulty torrent.

        * Like not looking at seeder numbers to check if the install is worth it. Taking note if the install was modified to make it better, not clicking on HIGH SPEED DOWNLOAD buttons that try to get you to download some crap of theirs instead of a torrent file. So I fear if we recommend this, his next post would be him screaming in incoherent rage at torrents and such. Which would be in a way fun, but he would be somewhat justified, but would not help with things.

        PS. Give into the dark side. Torrent the iso from Ubuntu and give the middle finger to Microsofts bulshit. Yeeeeesssssssss. Doooooo ittttt. ;)

        • MichaelG says:

          Yes, I would steal what I already have paid for as well, but if you are determined to spend money, go to http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832416804&cm_re=windows_7_professional-_-32-416-804-_-Product

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            *sigh*if you really want to tie it in with a physical crime,then at least use bootlegging or counterfeiting.

            But,like Ive mentioned already in another place,you arent pirating anything since its the license you are buying,not the disc itself,which is useless on its own.

            • Steve C says:

              Not technically correct. The claim software companies make is you are buying the license except that isn’t how the courts have ruled clickwrap in many jurisdictions around the world. In the USA it’s not uniform and so muddled that it depends on the specific district court.

              What you do have a right to is the work. It’s like having a right-of-way to a driveway. You can use it but you didn’t necessarily “license it”. Someone else still retains ownership and you have limits to what you can do on that driveway.

              • Kian says:

                Well, if you torrent the ISO, you’re basically getting a work you have a license to use, from someone that doesn’t have a right to redistribute it. You’re in the clear, it’s the person seeding it that is breaking copyright. Of course, I’m not a lawyer so this is not legal advise and should not be used as such.

  4. Matt K says:

    I had something similar happen the last time I sat on Windows Updates for a long while except I was able to do the recovery. I’d assume the problem ends up being that you ed up piling up updates that make changes to what the previous update did but since that happens with a fresh install I guess it’s more malice from the machine.

  5. Eathanu says:

    Wait, you bought the upgraded product because the not upgraded one did something stupid that pissed you off?

    You deserve this.

    • SKD says:

      IIRC Shamus has been over the entire argument before and it basically boils down to the usual sticking point with the Linux vs MS argument in that not all tools available for Windows have equivalents in Linux and those that do are not always of similar quality or would require much retraining to reach the same level he was already at with Windows programs.

    • Shamus says:

      I made it pretty damn clear in my post that I was out of options. It was either do this, or STOP USING THE COMPUTER FOREVER.

      Shit man.

      • SKD says:

        I know it doesn’t do much to help your current situation but if you have the storage I would recommend making a clone image (Clonezilla is a personal favorite) of your new install once you get everything configured to your liking. It seriously helps in recovery situations like yours when you have the option to take a Linux LiveCD and retrieve your important data before reimaging your PC with a preconfigured and fully authorized install without having to jump through the MS installation hoops.

      • Eathanu says:

        Or, since the legal options have officially failed you, you go to the not legal ones.

      • t says:

        you could have just pirated windows 7? Microsoft’s official options failed you in every single way, I don’t think anyone would begrudge you pirating the iso, if only to install it and activate with your win7pro cd key… You don’t even have to use a crack or keygen, you’re just downloading an unactivated iso.

        • Yeah, this is really weird. if GOG can provide re-downloads of games you buy (often several GB in size) then surely MicroSoft could too for Windows.

        • Bropocalypse says:

          Shamus already paid for a legit copy, so there’s really no reason not to torrent windows 7 pro, IMO.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            There is if the official place wont give him the disk.Plus,its not pirating if you dont crack the software.

            • Decius says:

              You’d be giving better advice if you said “It’s not piracy if you own and use exactly one license”.

              Since the bittorrent client probably also uploads, you might be on shaky legal ground re: accessory to piracy.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                You can disable the upload.

                Plus,the disc is useless without legally purchased code or illegally obtained crack,so you arent buying the disc,you are buying a license to use windows.This means that it doesnt matter how or where you get the disc* as long as you pay for the license that allows you to use the disc.

                *Not counting theft,that is.

              • Bropocalypse says:

                I want to say that it’s a gray area to trade copies of a product that is no longer sold by virtually anyone, but I’m sure someone with a lot of money would disagree with me.

          • Tse says:

            Alternatively, someone would’ve sent the .iso. In fact, Shamus, if you want to use Win 7 Pro, you could still ask someone to send a copy of the disk. I can’t, because I use Win 7 Ultimate, but someone else should be able to.

            • Steve C says:

              Shamus is stressing that while his computer is offline it is costing him valuable time. That time is money. He needs something immediate and it’s worth the money if it gets him back up and running immediately.

              Car analogy warning- It’s like being stuck on the side of the road. Sure your friend can come get you in an hour for free. But you need a ride *now* to make your appointment so you have to bite the bullet. You pay far more than you feel is reasonable on a taxi.

              Except Microsoft took his money in advance while charging limo prices, has arrived on a mope head, and said Shamus has to leave his luggage behind.

            • Benjamin Hilton says:

              Yeah I got the Win 7 ISO from a friend of mine. Normally I might feel bad about this but since Microsoft has essentially turned Windows 7 into abandonware I really didn’t.

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        Look on the bright sides!

        1.) You got a blog post out of it.

        2.) You’ll probably get another blog post out this still.

        3.) You’ll be able to quickly run through your programs, coding projects, and Steam backlog looking for programs/projects/games that work on Windows 7 that *also* work fine on Windows 8.

        4.) You might get a couple blog posts out of that too.

        5.) …Wait, no, that’s probably it for bright sides.

      • evileeyore says:

        To bad I don’t live close to you, I’d let you borrow my Windows 7 Pro disk long enough to fix the issue.

        With that in mind, you don’t know anyone with a Win7 Pro disk?

  6. DaMage says:

    For a companies who provide the most used operating system in the world…..Microsoft provide some of the worst customer service I have ever seen. It’s like they refuse to even believe that any software that is not theirs exists.

    In terms of Windows 8, get a start menu program (there are a few, a quick google search will bring them up) this will save you a ton of time until you learn how the metro screen works. If a program loads up in a metro app, you can close it again by left-click holding at the top of the screen and dragging to the bottom. If for some reason you dont get windows 8.1 on the disk, update as soon as possible, until then, the power/shutdown options can be found: mouse the top right of the screen, then click on the settings (looks like a gear) and then the power options. If you have 8.1 you’ll find the shutdown on the main metro screen.

    Windows 8 is a real pain to learn, but once you get used to it it is a faster more stable 7.

    • SKD says:

      Change that last sentence to “Windows 8 is a real pain to learn.” and you would be correct.

      In my experience 8 and 8.1 are no more stable than 7 and any improvements are offset by the touch-centric design.

      • Trix2000 says:

        In my experience it IS a bit faster and seems a bit more efficient under the hood, but it’s not real obvious. Still, I wouldn’t go for that in exchange for the new UI because it is soooooo confusing when you first get in… and even when you know how it works, it just seems so annoying to use.

        So yeah, overall it’s not really an improvement from 7.

        • SKD says:

          There are some things I like about Windows 8.x but they are balanced by the things that aggravate. There has definitely been some tweaking on the backend to improve performance but iit isn’t exactly a blazing difference except when it comes to booting the system. They have improved the copy utility. You can have different wallpapers for each screen…

          It has been a while and I have forgotten some of the stuff I liked but I can distinctly remember the aggravations were enough that I rolled back my desktop for gaming reasons after no more than a year and my laptop recently got reinstalled with 7 when a faulty patch caused much the same problem in 8.1 that Shamus is currently dealing with.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      “It’s like they refuse to even believe that any software that is not theirs exists.”

      No it’s worse than that. They refuse to believe that any software exists other than what they are currently maintaining. There’s plenty of Microsoft products Microsoft is unwilling to let you purchase.

    • Eruanno says:

      Click and drag Metro apps? Bwuh? On 8.1, just put your mouse on the top of the screen and click the close button. And to get to the “Charms bar” you don’t need to do any corner-fiddling, just hit Win+C on the keyboard. Then turn off the hot corners because aaargh annoying.

  7. Lupis42 says:

    It’s around that point that I would go looking for a Windows ISO torrent. After all, the internet is full of people who will helpfully offer you an image which you can use to install Windows. Most of them will even work with a legitimate product key.

    Good luck!

    • Blake says:

      Yeah that’s what I would have done, but then again I’m from Australia where looking for a torrent is our default solution to most problems.

    • Micamo says:

      If you’re worried about some hacker injecting arbitrary code into your operating system, you can always run an MD5 on the ISO and make sure it checks out as unchanged from the official Microsoft image. (The MD5 hashes for Windows 7 disks are still available.)

      • MD5 hashes (any type of hashes actually) only guarantee that if there is a mistmatch then the file is different.

        If there is no mismatch then it can not guarantee anything, it can tell you that most likely the file is not altered.
        Hashes like MD5 and SHA etc are best used to check if a file was damaged in transit.

        Malicious manipulation of such a huge file as a iso can be modified and still actually match a MD5 hash. Less likely with SHA, and very difficult with MD5 and SHA hash on the same file.

        Never assume that a hash match indicate the file is unmodified, a hash check can only 100% guarantee that the file has been modified, it can not 100% guarantee the file has NOT been modified.

        People tend to forget that little fact.

        The only way to 100% guarantee a file has not been modified is to do a byte for byte comparison. In which case (for a download) it’s just as easy to re-download.

        • Septyn says:

          I agree with everything you wrote, but I disagree with why you wrote it. In this context, to deceive the downloader who makes the effort to check MD5 hashes (a vanishingly small % in my experience), the Bad Guy would need to pad his Zeusbot executable to match the length of the original dll or other file he’s replaced, then throw the two files against a collision-creating algorithm on some Amazon cluster. That’s a lot of effort for little reward when you consider he can snare way more victims by uploading a purely malicious file labeled PhotoshopCS4_keygen.exe to RapidGator.

          tl,dr: checking the MD5 of the ISO would be just fine.

          • No, the attacker would not need to match the length of the file. Not matching the length makes it easier.
            A hash does not store any clues about the length either, so an extra 1 MB of padding would go unnoticed by people.

            PS! Also a lot of people would not use a keygen but they might use the iso, sneaking a trojan into the iso is a more clever move.

            • Decius says:

              The file sizes are also known.

              • Where? These are not listed on the MicroSoft site.

                It is kind of silly to have to rely on third party hashes and third party file sizes and then download from a third party.

                One should be able to just go to MicroSoft (log in with Windows Live if needed) select Windows 7 Pro x64 download, enter product key and download either a iso or exe tool to put the install “disk” on a USB stick.

                This is a super simple thing to set up, why they don’t do it this way I got no clue.

                Point I was making is that if GOG can do this then MicroSoft should be able too as well.
                Downloading from questionable sites with questionable hashes and file sizes should not be the easiest way.

  8. Blake says:

    Probably the most important Windows 8.1 tip, you can right click the start button (or press Win+X) to get a list of useful things like “Control Panel”, “Command Prompt (administrator)”, and oh yeah a quaint little feature known as “Shut down”.

    Otherwise Windoes 8.1 is fine, I never actually see the start screen in my standard workflow (although if you’re someone who frequently uses the start menu you might, in which case it’s worth pointing out pressing the windows key then typing will still search through your start menu).

    Good luck with the computer fixing, hopefully you never have to worry about it again (Windows 8 actually has a ‘restore factory settings’ button in it which would hopefully work in case of everything going wrong).

    Also: I look forward to seeing your thoughts on Windows 8 once you’ve used it for a while.

    • Tizzy says:

      I don’t know exactly how awful Windows 8 was when it came out, but I’ve been forced to use 8.1 for the past year, and it’s been fine. There were even some slight tweaks to basic UI that I thought really saved time.

      And it looks like you’re having your wish to read about Shamus’s impressions more quickly than you may have expected.

  9. ET says:

    Shamus, mind listing what Windows programs you use, which is stopping you from switching over to Linux? There’s a good chance you can get enough of them to run, that you could make the switch. When I switched this year, I found that there’s a lot of stuff to make the experience even easier than what I found with Ubuntu last time I tried this:
    1. Xubuntu (I prefer this one) or Lubuntu
    – These are basically Ubuntu, with an interface that looks 90% as good (IMHO), but uses waaay less resources.
    2. Play On Linux
    – Basically a wrapper for Wine, that lets you install many things without having to dig through forum posts, looking for Wine settings.
    – Also, it keeps separate versions of Wine in a virtual machine for each program, so it’s guaranteed not to clobber one working program when you install another, which you might do if you’re manually installing with Wine.
    – I just did a cursory search, and it looks like it even has installers for Photoshop, and other big programs. You’ll still need the install programs, but it’s got a good chance of working. (Not guaranteed: e.g. Starcraft 2 refused to install for me. :S )
    3. At least half of my Steam games install natively, and the rest work just fine under my Play On Linux install of Steam.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m still making sacrifices to run Linux instead of dual-booting or using Windows. However, I’ve found that all the Linux (or emulated) programs are at a good enough point, that I’m never switching back. Might be worth a shot in your case, too. :)

    • Fists says:

      I would say that since he’s currently coding the fact that he uses visual basic is probably by far the biggest sticking point, and one that he’s commented on in a few articles where he tries to convince himself to see the light.

      • There is no light. All the operating systems have issues.
        And usually when shit hit he fan, the shit hits the fan, regardless of the OS brand.

        Windows PCs, Mac, Linux, Others are knee deep in holdovers from way back when, archaic ways of doing stuff.

        Also, “Just use Linux” is a phrase that has no meaning any more, which distro? Which version? Which branch?

        When Linux works it’s works well. But same can be said for Mac or Windows PCs, when they work they work well.

        Maybe I’m just nostalgic or I selectively only remember the good, but I kind of miss AmigaOS these days.

        • Nick-B says:

          Hah, my father was one of the guys who ran the Amiga User Group here in Utah, and i remember him go on and on about how the AmigaOS was a decade ahead of its time. All I can remember is what to click on to get Firepower to start.

          • It’s true though, the Amiga was ahead of it’s time. It had an audio chip and a graphics chip (analogous to today’s sound cards and graphics cards) so the CPU could be offloaded.

            AmigaOS was a (IIRC) a pre-emptive multitasking OS, way before other machines had one.

            AmigaOS had a surprisingly good quality Text to Speech driver.

            The Amiga was used for graphics work for movies and TV (Babylon 5, Star Trek TNG etc. IIRC)

            The main issue though with the Amiga was that due to miss-management by Commodore that 10 year “head start” was lost and the competition quickly gained ground or surpassed the Amiga in the next 10 years.
            A shame really as Id’ love to have seen MicroSoft OS vs AmigaOS vs MacOS vs Linux today.

    • MichaelGC says:

      I can’t recall all the ins & outs, but there was some discussion of such here:

      Postcards from Linux [four-parter]
      http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=18110

      There’s also this classic in the same topic-ballpark:

      Linux vs. Windows
      http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=18309

      I think the preferred protocol is to leave a comment on the above page calling Shamus an idiot for hating on Linux (I assume the fact that the comments are disabled is just a temporary glitch…), and then read this one:

      Linux vs. Linus Users
      http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=20339

    • John says:

      I use Lubuntu on my aged netbook. The performance really is excellent. I’m honestly glad I switched over from Windows XP. And it is possible in principle to configure the LXDE, the Lubuntu desktop, so that it is nearly identical to your old Windows 95, 98, or XP desktop. (I can’t speak to Windows 7 or 8.) But if you’re like me, it could take a lot of time and effort to get your desktop just the way you like it.

      By way of example, I wanted to add shortcuts for some DOSBox games to the “Games” program category in my start menu. The method for doing so in LXDE is, it turns out, is similar to the method in Windows. You just have to navigate to the proper directory and create a new file. In Windows it would be a shortcut file. In LXDE it’s a specially-formatted text file. The problem is that the directory is obscurely-named, hidden, and write-protected. You’ll have to forum trawl for a while in order to find out what it’s called. Then, if you’re a Linux newbie–I was and am–you’ll have to figure out how to give yourself temporary permission to write to that directory.

      You get the idea. God help you if you want to edit the categories in the start menu or create sub-categories. I’m told that people have written programs to make this stuff a little easier and I can see why. The point is that it takes a substantial investment of time and effort to achieve the same sort of work flow in Linux/Lubuntu/LXDE that you are used to from Windows.

  10. Vorpal Smilodon says:

    Classic Shell is a free windows 8/8.1 enhancement – I say enhancement, but it just makes the OS work the way you actually want it to, like giving you a start menu instead of an App page.

    http://www.classicshell.net/

    • Hydralysk says:

      I definitely second this. I got a new laptop a few months ago which forced me into windows 8.1. After installing classic shell, disabling those corner app features and setting it to boot straight to the desktop I found it wasn’t so bad.

      Still would’ve preferred 7, but it wasn’t as horrendous as I’d heard from many others.

    • This, so much so. If it wasn’t for Classic Shell, I wouldn’t have upgraded.
      I’ve started recommending it to customers that have no choice but to upgrade to Windows 8.

    • Kalil says:

      Fourthed.

      Also, you’re probably going to get horribly annoyed by the new alt-tab (I know I was). There are two ways around it. The first is to use the utterly hilarious I-am-not-making-this-up key combo: “Hold left alt, tap right alt, then press tab”. Yes, a key combo using both Alt keys. I want some of what they were smoking.
      The more permanent solution is to add a registry key:
      Under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
      Add DWORD AltTabSettings with value 1.

      I’ve mostly gotten over my irritation with 8 thanks to classic shell and the other fixes I’ve found, although I’ll still probably be upgraded to 10 ASAP when it comes out.

      • Kyte says:

        Wait what new alt tab? I’m using 8.1 and I don’t recall my alt tab behavior changing.

        • I think it’s smarter? I use alt+tab a bunch and it seems to remember what I was last using/looking at and offering that first. Personally I love it (so much easier to go between chrome and lotro), but I can see how it might be annoying.

        • Kalil says:

          It was showing big window previews instead of tiles w/ descriptions, which I found very confusing, as I might have several mostly-white-with-text windows open. It also would fade out windows as I tabbed, which really annoyed me. I’m guessing this was probably a stock aero feature since Win7 or Vista, but I’ve had that disabled, so this was the first time I was forced to deal with it.

          (If you want to compare to the ‘old’ alt tab method, use the double-alt-tab method described above. I’d suggest that anyhow, just so that you can see that, seriously, Microsoft really did create a hotkey combo that involves /both/ alt buttons.)

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Whoa! I might now actually consider not nuking Windows 8 off of the next PC I buy. I have bookmarked the site in my “Important Sites” folder, making it the envy of the Microsoft homepage, among others.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Yup, got a new laptop recently and Win8.1 and Classic Shell made it a simple transition from Win7. Everything works pretty much the same, or in some instances a bit better!

  11. Sorites says:

    #1 most important quality-of-life note with Windows 8 and 8.1: Typing on the Start page searches, and the search is really good.

    I don’t use any of the navigation features anymore. I just slam the Windows key, type Chrome or Calculator or Steam or whatever else I want, and slam the Enter key. It’s faster than any other OS I’ve ever used.

    • guy says:

      You can search from the start menu in 7.

      • ulrichomega says:

        While that’s all well and good, one of the main complaints I’ve heard from people about Windows 8 is that there is no search. While it’s not the most obvious thing in the world, it is there and telling people it’s there is a huge help to those people.

        • Sorites says:

          And for my money, the 8 search is much faster. Typing with the Start menu open in 7 sends a click to the first menu item starting with the letter you typed. You’d have to actually mouse over to the search box.

          On 8, you can just hit the Start key with your left pinky, type out what you want, and hit Enter without even waiting for the results list to come up. It’ll give you an I’m Feeling Lucky. Better still, it saves your search history and auto-fills (with the auto-filled text highlighted for typeover).

          If I want Steam, I just hit Start-s-Enter. Start-ch-Enter for Chrome, to avoid ambiguity with Calculator. Faster even than Alt-Tabbing through my open applications, unless I happen to want the next item to the right.

          I love mouseless navigation, and I’m altogether too passionate about it.

  12. Dreadjaws says:

    So, Shamus, quick question, why not download a Windows 7 ISO from another website? I mean, technically speaking, unmodified backup ISOs should be fine as long as you use your own, legally obtained product key. Or, perhaps ask someone else for their copy, you must have a friend who has one.

    Really, purchasing Windows 8 would be the absolutely last resort after you’ve gone through all the other existing possibilities. I understand you were pressed for time, but come on, it seems here you didn’t even try to ask someone else for help.

    Edit: I kind of feel like a prick for pointing this out, or at least like a live-action adaptation of Captain Hindsight, but I honestly cannot offer any advice on Windows 8, since I’ve avoided it like the plague. And yes, I find even Windows 8.1 a chore. I don’t find any use on any of their so-called “improvements”. Not to mention the attacks to my muscle memory.

    • I have a question on that: I have an old netbook running XP that if I ever get the time to be arsed, I can fix (it’s currently blue-screening because of something silly Dell did with this model, which is also why I originally bought it for well below dirt cheap). I need to download an XP ISO, which is fine, as I have the key the computer came with and it has no optical drive. I can do this fix from a bootable USB drive.

      The thing is, all the advice on finding an ISO is that it’s got be the same version as my key, and apparently there are over 31 flavors of XP ISOs floating around out there beyond the usual “pro” and “home” sort of shenanigans. Does Shamus need to look out for the same kind of crap with his Win7 install apart from home/pro?

      • John says:

        Do you have an XP install disk from another computer, per chance? If so, you can use that.

        The self-assembled mid-tower I have hooked up to my TV is running an install of Windows XP based on an ISO I originally ripped from Dell system/install disks that came with a laptop so old that I believe it predated Service Pack 1. I used a utility called nLite to update the disk to include Service Pack 3 and other updates, as well as customize which Windows components were installed by default. I’m using the laptop’s product key, too. (The laptop died a long, long time ago.)

    • “why not download a Windows 7 ISO from another website” where?
      Chances of getting a virus/malware infested disk image is huge.

      • Shamus says:

        Yeah. I suppose that route might be safe if you know what you’re doing, but I’d be clueless and unable to tell a “reputable” pirate site from a malware farm. I mean, maybe pirate sites have cleaned up since the last time I saw them in the early 2000’s (when un-drm cracks and straight-up piracy were mixed together) but that was a frustrating and dangerous place to go.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        No.This is a huge misconception.If you look for anything popular even just by googling it (say “windows 7 retail torrent”) the first searches you get will be verified by thousands of people.Even if someone attempts to infect the file,you will not only get a bunch of people warning you about it,it will promptly be deleted.All you have to do is check if it was uploaded more than a month ago,and still downloaded by thousands of people.

        Not to mention that you cant even find an infected iso file anywhere,its the crack files that can have the virus.And you dont even have to download that one if you have the product code.

        • 4th Dimension says:

          One big problem he might have is the fact that most of pirates offer only the Ultimate version* which is logical but Shamus needs Professional.

          *Why pirate a version of Windows wih less stuff.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            That is true.Finding the iso for the inferior version can be a bit trickier.

            • bucaneer says:

              AFAIK, the only difference between Windows (7) editions is the key you use. A Home installation is identical to an Ultimate installation, it’s just that Home has some features locked out. Conversely, an Ultimate disc should install Professional if you provide the right key.

              • SKD says:

                That is true, but the discs/isos are also made to only work with their designated version keys. So if you have a Pro key then you have to have a Pro disc.

                This can be fixed by modifying certain files before burning them to disc but that method doesn’t always want to work right IME.

                • A lot of those torrents also come with extra stuff on them plus all updates/patches slipstreamed etc.

                  A few times in the past I was tempted to get one of those as slipstreaming a iso/image yourself is a tad fiddly.

                  But in the end I refrained and did the slipstreaming myself, safer that way albeit a tad fiddley/time consuming.

                  EDIT: And that’s a thing I don’t get.
                  Why can’t you download pre-patched (slipstreamed) ISOs from MicroSoft?
                  They sometimes do for some of their other software, why not Windows?

  13. megabyte says:

    Hang in there Shamus. If it makes you feel better, you are far from the only innocent user who has been screwed by a bad windows update or repair tool that makes it worse. I hope the windows 8 install works.

  14. Atrus says:

    It might be a bit too late to help, but there’s probably an easy solution to this. If you have any Windows 7 computers working in the house (which it sounds like you do), then type:

    “Restore”

    Into the start prompt. Then click on the first option:

    “Back-up and Restore”

    Then select the second option on the upper left:

    “Create a system repair disc”

    Burn this onto a CD/DVD and put it into your broken machine. It should boot up to a prompt that will give you troubleshooting options to fix the machine. If this can’t fix the problem, something really bad happened. But since it sounds like an update just went wrong, this can probably fix it.

    • Dragmire says:

      I think his issue is that his other Win 7 PCs are Home Edition while the borked one is a Pro Edition and for whatever reason, the repair disks are not compatible.

      At least, that’s what I got from this part:


      Wait! The other computers in the house all use Windows. (Except for my wife, who is Linux-only.) Although, they have Windows 7 Home and I’m (or WAS) running Windows 7 Pro. I get one of the Windows Home disks. Sure enough, it offers two options:

      Boot into my existing install of Windows and run setup from there. (Impossible, my windows is borked.)
      NUKE THE ENTIRE WINDOWS DRIVE and install Windows Home. (Uh, no.)

      There’s no, “Just revert to default install and repair broken files” option, even though I know that feature existed in previous versions of Windows. I mean, I could understand if you can’t use Home to repair Professional, but the option doesn’t even exist.

  15. Thomas says:

    Here’s my Windows 8 advice. About a week after Windows 8 is installed on your computer, it will suddenly and magically turn into Windows 8.1. This is weird and startling because everything changes, but Windows 8.1 is much better.

    ——-
    Overall though, I’d resent to going back to Windows 7. Windows 8 is a _lot_ faster at booting and doing things. The window charms (mouse up to the left/right corners and then bring your mouse down) are actually fun and useful. The right windows charm has the search bar which is so good that I barely ever use the file system and never use the start screen. You can turn off internet searching which I find is really helpful.

    The only disappointing thing now (now that I never go to the start screen because everything is in the search bar), is that the way Windows 8.1 apps work is actually really nice. The left windows charm is good for tabbing and you can drag the apps to ‘snap’ to half a screen. It’s easier than snapping windows. And then to close a window you can just throw it away.

    But normal progams don’t work like apps so you don’t get that functionality unless you dig for a windows app.

    The task manager is also really good (but I can’t remember if 7 had that)

    • Humanoid says:

      A lot of the boot process is hardware stuff independent of the OS. I was impressed with how fast my Haswell Win8.1 laptop booted when I got it, sure. But then I replaced my HTPC with a new Haswell machine, and it boots into Win7 in 5 seconds, so it may just be an illusion caused by it coinciding with new Intel platforms which naturally get through booting much faster. My Win7 desktop from 2010 takes about 30 seconds.

      Also worth noting that with Win8, Media Centre is now a paid upgrade to a paid upgrade – it’s basically DLC for Win8 Pro – for something that used to come as basic functionality for Win7 Home. It’d literally cost me three times as much for the OS to get my HTPC functioning if I opted for Win8 over Win7. As it stands though, I have a 3-install Win7 Family Pack of which I’ve only used one install, so I still have two Win7 licences for whatever PCs I build next.

      • guy says:

        Windows has a bad habit of letting programs add themselves to the boot sequence. Older installs tend to load more stuff as they boot. Might have fixed that these days, though. And of course SSDs are much faster.

        • Humanoid says:

          Sure, but in this case it’s fairly observable the old PC is hanging around prior to the splash screen loading up BIOS-related stuff which the newer machine just blinks past. Both machines have SSDs, actually the older one has a faster and larger one.

        • Look at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb545021.aspx

          Especially the tool called AutoRuns
          Run that as a normal user then as a Admin user, you should be able to see and nuke whatever unwanted gunk stuff leaves behind.

          Be careful what you delete though, if you are unsure then simply disable them instead and if all is ok next time you can delete them.

          Very nice to get rid of Adobe Acrobat Speed Downloader whatever stuff.

    • Mephane says:

      I utterly hate these “charms”. I don’t want stuff to pop up automatically because the mouse touched one border of the screen. And Windows 8.1 doesn’t allow me to turn them off. Apparently there are some third party tools or registry hacks which can do it but I’d prefer not to risk such things.

  16. Ross Weseloh says:

    OK, so this is what I do all day (or was, I spend more time working with servers and networks now). Thoughts (though they are late):

    1) If you can get to the menu that lets you boot into safe mode, even if it doesn’t boot, you can use the option “Disable Automatic Restart on System Failure” and it will let you see the bluescreen in its full glory.

    2) You were on the right track there – if you HAD been able to see the bluescreen you could have at least seen what you could do. That said, if it was caused by a windows update, good luck (unless it happened to be a windows update based driver update, which happens and often breaks things).

    3) Optical media DOES degrade. Not over the course of two years in a dark binder, but it can. DVDs are just plastic and various chemicals that add a reflective layer.

    4) A Windows 7 disc should have the option to do what they call a “Repair Install” like you were saying. That it didn’t is probably due to the fact that you were using Home vs. Pro discs. The discs we use at the shop are actually all-inclusive – you pick which version you want to install, but they’re all on one disc. I actually don’t know for sure if they even MAKE ISOs that have only one edition on them. This leads into the next point:

    5) Microsoft recently did something with the Digital River servers that were hosting all their ISOs. We used to use them all the time to get installers for Office, and now they’re gone. Stupid, really.

    6) You were perfectly entitled to finding a torrent of a Windows 7 disc ISO, because what Microsoft actually sells is the license, not the disc. The only problem there is finding a torrent that is clean and not cracked. I can’t speak to how easy that is because when I need a MS ISO we’ve got them all set aside on our server.

    (ASIDE: If for some reason you really, really needed to buy a copy of 7 again, both buycheapsoftware.com and discountmountainsoftware.com are reputable, despite the names. We use them all the time at work. That said I can’t speak to how much longer they’ll still carry 7 licenses. And of course if you have a valid license already, you should just need the ISO.)

    The rest of the Windows 8 stuff…. Blegh. I wish you luck. I have 8 installed on my laptop because that’s what it’s licensed for, and if you get used to it, it works alright…but I also use Start8 for a proper start menu (there’s a free equivalent called Classic Shell that’s just as good). I still use 7 on my desktop, though, and I won’t be switching until 10, assuming 10 is good.

    (Please don’t take any of this as me being condescending. I know it’s not really much help. I wasn’t even going to post anything, but since I just came home from work it was pretty fresh on my mind.)

    (Also apparently my name changed to my full name from “Rosseloh”, which is my usual moniker. Oops)

    • Mike says:

      3) Optical media DOES degrade. Not over the course of two years in a dark binder, but it can. DVDs are just plastic and various chemicals that add a reflective layer.

      this Though the amount of time it takes also depends on what kind of optical media it is. A pressed disk (those are the ones manufactured with the bits already on them) will last much longer than a burned disk, because the dye used to allow a cd burner to write data degrades much faster than the plastic does.

      The typical lifespan for burned media is around 2-5 years, though like any statistical measure a particular item may last longer or shorter than that.

      source: http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/initiatives/temp-opmedia-faq.html

    • BvG says:

      In regards to point 4…

      It’s been a while, but i think the repair option does not appear on the first option screen. Instead one has to go to the nuke option, and then it says “do you really wanna”, and you say yes, and then there’s three options, on of them being a soft-replacement install.

  17. Nixorbo says:

    At least you’re only stuck with 8.1 until the free upgrade to 10.

    • Mephane says:

      I am torn about this. Apparently you’ll need to have a Microsoft account for this. The upgraded install will probably be tied to that account. And I strongly do not want such a thing. My current Win 8.1 install at least works perfectly fine with just a local account, thank you.

  18. Humanoid says:

    A bit late now but what you can do if you have the Win7 Home Premium disc is that, in reality, all copies of Win7 DVDs actually have all the files necessary to install any version of Windows. There’s just one single text file on the disc, ei.cfg, that restricts a given disc to a given version of Win7. Well, what you can do is just use a program that can do file operations on the contents of an ISO and nuke ei.cfg altogether and burn it to a new DVD or USB stick. Without that file, the installation process will actually kindly ask you what version of Win7 you’d like to install.

    Up to now I never really needed to do that because the ISOs were publicly available from Digital River (officially so, on behalf of MS) as a direct download with no verification required, so it seems they’ve replaced that system now with the stupid product-key gated one you couldn’t get to work.

  19. Paul Spooner says:

    What? Has it really been three years? Why… it seems like only yesterday.
    Carry on brave soul.

  20. Simon Buchan says:

    Live life on the wild side! Install Windows 10 preview! Not recommended if you don’t like stuff randomly breaking, but I’m liking nearly all the changes they have done.

  21. ReticentDaikaiju says:

    I’m not sure what Microsoft is putting in it’s updates recently, but for some reason I’ve had a similar blue screen on start-up problem twice in the last month right after running a Windows 7 update. Fortunately both times I was able to save my computer with a system restore, but it’s getting to the point where I’m getting paranoid to run updates unless it’s absolutely necessary.

  22. Isaac says:

    This is why I stuck to Windows Vista. Less problems that way!

  23. psivamp says:

    Today I replaced the HD in a machine that had suffered a head crash a year or two back then sat in the corner of the server room until now. I installed Fedora and Windows 7. I got Fedora set up with everything necessary to work with and build my company’s software. This is a powerful laptop and we’ve been doing nothing with it. There are three more vaguely like it except newer and more expensive — and with nothing wrong with them.

    Our new hire, the least qualified of the people interviewed and the one with the least recommendations to the CTO from the dev team, got a brand new machine that 1) has Superfish ad/malware on it and 2) lacks sufficient RAM to run our software under good conditions let alone bad or while running a debugger.

    Everything with the computer went smoothly. Ideally, I just saved the company a thousand big ones. But that’s not what happened. Over the next week or so, we get to tell our CTO that we don’t have licenses for Windows tools, that our product doesn’t run on Windows and that the programmer he hired works only in Windows and lacks even basic familiarity with linux. Hell, maybe he just wants someone else to be in that boat with him.

    I’m sorry. The start-up I work for is dying and it stresses me out. I spent two nights trying to fix a wireless repeater that decided that it hated the linux clients behind it. I ended up buying a new very fancy router. I’m not as bitter about that as Shamus is about buying Windows 8.

    On topic-ish, maybe helpful: I know that there’s a free upgrade to 8.1 with any 8 license. I also thought there was a rumor of a downgrade to 7 ability.

    • Humanoid says:

      Win8/8.1 Pro has downgrade rights to Win7 Pro because corporate clients require it. You still need your own Win7 Pro media and probably have to jump through a few hoops beyond that. The cheaper ‘Home’ versions have no such rights.

  24. WILL says:

    Windows 8 is objectively faster than Windows 7 and in most cases has some nice additions to the basic Windows interface. People mention the drawbacks of Metro but it is 100% out of your way if you want it to be, it’s just a fancy start menu.

    It gets a lot of hate but it’s a perfectly functional OS.

    • DIN aDN says:

      Plus – and honestly this is the thing I notice the most when switching between computers using 7 and 8 – in Windows 8(.1?) on the desktop view you can right-click the start thing and get a nice useful context menu bit. Goes right to control panel, task manager, command prompt and has a pop-out shutdown menu too.

      • Geebs says:

        Yes, but which of the two control panels with occasionally conflicting options, each of which contains a subset of the previous Win7 control panel do you want to go to?

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Windows 8 is objectively faster than Windows 7

      Ok,can someone please give me a link to actual comparisons,because the 4 machines(3 laptops,1 desktop)that Ive seen with windows 8 took ages to boot compared to both my windows 7 laptop and my windows 7 desktop.

      I get that this is probably due to the fact that I take care not to have junk start itself automatically when the computer is turned on,and other people usually dont do that,so Id really like to see the comparison between stuff that have equal set ups.

      • Simon Buchan says:

        Countering anecdote: my windows 8.1 cold boots to login in about 3 seconds. Windows can be very, very fast now, depending on whatever voodoo ritual was last performed on your machine.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Which is why I would like to see comparisons done on identical machines with identical software on them.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Ive just checked,and the reason windows 8 boots so fast is because it doesnt shut down but rather hibernates.Seeing how hibernation is already set as default for my power button,I dont see this as an improvement.

  25. doppleganger says:

    That sounds pretty nightmarish!

    One thing you could want to do once Windows is reinstalled and all patches applied, is to make a backup of your system partition with Macrium Reflect or Acronis True Image or some other similar app. And burn a bootable rescue cd/dvd of that software.

    This way, it would likely take you around 10 to 20 minutes to get back on your feet next time disaster strikes. Which reminds me that I should do a mighty cleanup of my system partition and redo a new backup so that all my current setup is saved.

    Keeping a backup of the partition after the initial setup is a very good idea, in case you ever want/need to reinstall Windows from scratch. And keeping an updated backup is another good idea, to diminish to amount of software reinstall, in the case you have a problem and want to return to your latest good setup.

  26. The Steve says:

    Only thing I can think of to take that sting of Windows 8 away is to hit Ninite, and make sure among the many goodies it can quickly reinstall, something called Classic Shell.

    ~45% of the pain of Win 8 just flutters away with that.

  27. newdarkcloud says:

    I’ve had issues with a Windows 7 update making my computer impossible to use before. When that happen, I had to force it to restore itself to a previous version, before I made the update. Then, I disabled auto-updates for a month in order for Microsoft to fix their buggy code.

    Though from the looks of it, you’ve already tried that and it still failed. I really don’t know what else you could do in that case.

    Did you try to call Microsoft and get them to fix the issue? Usually, they tend to be sympathetic to a pissed-off customer. Maybe it’s different since they have a near-monopoly on OSs, but I have to imagine the rep would feel obligated to do something.

  28. Grampy_bone says:

    Awww what happened to Digital River? Glad I have USB drives with the Windows 7 install files all safe and sound…

  29. Geebs says:

    I’m pretty certain I downloaded a win7 ISO off the old links only a couple of months ago? Then again that didn’t help my particular case because my computer is old (and a Mac) and can’t install Windows from a USB stick, so I ended up digging out my install CD.

    As to being forced to use Windows 8: I’m sorry, man. I’m so, so sorry.

  30. Karthik says:

    > I typed a ‘V’ into this document when trying to copy & paste in Linux

    I can’t figure out what this is about. (BTW, I am aware of the dual clipboards in X11 in Linux, accessed with Ctrl-V and middle clicking.)

    • Neko says:

      Yeah, I’m curious as to what the problem was too – was Shamus trying to paste into a terminal, where one by necessity needs to do ctrl-shift-V? (To be honest, I think that’s one thing Macs do really well, since it’s universally cmd-V to paste and ctrl shortcuts are exclusively available for the terminal’s use (that said, you can pry my select-and-middle-click-to-paste from my cold dead hands))

      Anyway, Shamus, I feel your pain. A few months ago I was reinstalling my desktop, ostensibly my “gaming machine”, because I bought a whole bunch of upgrades. Win7 on the previous-previous motherboard had conked out when I replaced the dead motherboard, and I hadn’t gotten around to fixing it, so with these upgrades I decided I could give it another go.

      Well… nope. Several days of frustration involving the IDE/AHCI thing, and because I wanted to update my SSD’s firmware, I had to use a windows .exe, but it could only do its thing in AHCI mode, but I couldn’t install windows in AHCI mode, I had to do it in IDE mode, and there was no “just switching the UEFI settings after installing windows” because that would be too easy, windows just wasn’t booting in that scenario… Long story short I bought a new OCZ SSD, updated it with their Linux tool, and haven’t bothered reinstalling windows. Which don’t get me wrong, I totally know won’t solve your problems and I’m not evangelizing it. Just sharing mine own tale of woe.

  31. Ilseroth says:

    An absolute shame you had to deal with this crap.

    I actually remember when Windows 8.1 hit I didn’t want to update it, since my university is slow and their wifi didn’t support 8.1; and a lot of my work is done through the internet.

    So the message kept popping up to update to 8.1; “Restart to update to 8.1” and one of the options was to ignore for a week. I did that for like… half a year.

    Then suddenly the longest option was 3 days… and so I did that for a while, then it said 1 day.. then 12 hours… then eventually it said “Updating in 10 minutes” and didn’t have a delay choice anymore, lol.

  32. I’ve had a few windows deaths in the past couple of PCs, though only one (my aforementioned netbook) was the result of a file corruption or OS problem. They were all hardware-related, unfortunately.

    I’m not the best at backing things up, but I now keep my OS on one drive far away from my data and documents. Worst case scenario, I lose the C: drive and just toss the others in a different computer.

  33. Man, wish ya would’ve posted this before you bought Windows Hate. I’m pretty sure there’s a whole slew of us who’d been willing to make a Win7 iso fer ya and put in our dropbox/cloud/etc. Present company included.

    Actually, that begs the question, why didn’t you ask someone ya knew to do that? I only use computers to game and animate and I know at least two peeps that could hook me up with all kinds of crap, so I refuse to believe that a guy that’s been computer programming for damn near as long as I’ve been alive doesn’t know ANYONE who could’ve gotten ya what ya need.

  34. MaxEd says:

    Can’t help but wonder, why you couldn’t get an ISO of Win7 from pirate site. I mean, yes, it’s a pirate site, but you PAID for it. You just need an ISO, and they you enter your completely legal key. If you afraid of getting a virus-ladden version, reputable sites usually offer a hash for ISO, so you can check it against a known hash of original MS ISO to make sure you’re getting a real thing.

    I guess I’ll never understand you Americans :)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Irrational fear.If you never use them,you are worried about downloading a virus.A somewhat real concern from back at the start of the millennium,but not today.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      Yes I know crazy, they are paying all that money for OSs and not simply booting up the torrenting program while shouting “Argh, matey torrent in sight”. ;)

      But as Demian says it’s fear. Also he could find difficult to find the download button on some of the sites. Also some of the sites themselves not the torrents on them are kind of shifty, so he could find himself on them if he simply uses google. On top of it all pirates ussually only offer Ultimate versions and he needs the Professional one, but Humanoid’s idea would fix that. But that would require messing with the ISO which is an aditional annoyance that I think Shamus wants to avoid.

  35. ehlijen says:

    I don’t really know what to say other than offering my condolences :(

    May the force be with your efforts and your new setup live longer and prosperer.

  36. Mephane says:

    I believe this is the correct place to rage about the fact that when listing items in a window alphabetically you do that in columns. You do not sort them alphabetically and then arrange them like text in rows, because that makes it impossible to rapidly scan through the list for the wanted item.

    Unless you are Microsoft. Then you even add stuff that sometimes appears in the list and sometimes doesn’t, for whatever reasons, so that the same item doesn’t even appear in the same screen position, so that the user has the joy of searching for it each and every time.

    I want my Windows Vista Control Panel back.

    Also, I am still looking for a non-hacky non-install-third-party-stuff way to globally set how my directories are displayed, ALL THE DIRECTORIES, regardless of place or content. No I don’t want big tiles here. No I don’t want music-specific buttons at the top of the explorer window, no I don’t care that you are so clever to recognize all files in this folder are images. Can you please just treat files as files and let me bother with what they are used for and what I want to do with them?

    I just want a list of files, in columns and not rows (at least that still is possible in Explorer), and the usual sort options “by name”, “by type”, “by date” NO I DON’T WANT SO SORT BY THE DATE THESE PHOTOGRAPHS WERE ALLEGEDLY TAKEN, YOU ARE A FILE EXPLORER SO LET ME EXPLORE THESE AS MERE FILES, THANK YOU.

    And when I set it to “sort by type”, I want that globally, and not have each folder sorted differently depending on what I did there the last time. I remember when this was introduced as a feature, I think with Windows XP, and I already hated it back then, but iirc at least you could disable folder-specific display settings and automatic decisions about what a folder contains and how it shall be displayed.

    And when you are done with implementing this, dear Microsoft, add a big fat “Prevent All Metro Apps From Launching, Ever” button. Because if there is one thing that is utterly infuriating, is when I click on a link* and my entire screen is replaced by the MAIL app that I never used, never will use, and does not deserve all the 2 million pixels to display an empty window until I fiddle with these “charming” “charms” in order to close it (or use task manager to kill the process).

    *I eventually “fixed” this specific instance by using a menu editor for Firefox to remove all options to “share” or “email” stuff.

  37. PowerGrout says:

    Welcome, welcome to w8, ironically perhaps the least laggardly windows yet.

    Honestly, it’s got it’s flaws and a good chunk of them shouldn’t really exist but nothing about it is nearly half so bad as the terrible self perpetuating din people make railing against it.
    Pretty much all of it’s ‘gimmicky’ ‘awful’ ‘features’ can be disabled outright and forgotten about. And yep, one day it’ll turn itself inside out lose all your registry keys or refuse to boot/repair/recover/anything for no good reason.Believe, I’ve had my fair share of drama with it but no more than with any previous version of Microsoft’s attempts to make all of my various rag tag bunch of components and software work together in the manner of something befitting the description ‘system’. but would it be windows if it didn’t? isn’t OS secretly just an acronym for
    oh shit!?

    As for the problems that got you to where you are now and those you met along the way – I’m not gonna hate myself for saying it – you really oughta be using images by now.

    Also I’m not a warbler with gazillion humble followers most of whom live and breathe PC’s but if I was, I sure woulda tweeted for an .iso…

  38. DivFord says:

    I once had windows 7 download and install updates without an internet connection. I’m pretty sure it just makes them up…

  39. Parkhorse says:

    You know Amazon still sells the OEM versions of Windows 7, right? Directly from Microsoft? http://www.amazon.com/Windows-Professional-System-Builder-Packaging/dp/B00H09BOXQ

  40. Craig says:

    All you need to reinstall Win7 is a legitimate key and the ISO – and you can get the ISO, quite legitimately, on the links on this page here:

    http://arstechnica.com/features/2012/06/blowing-away-bloatware-a-guide-to-reinstalling-windows-on-a-new-pc/

    Not torrent, not warez, straight from Digital River/Microsoft. Not hard to find with a Google search, but people seem to be so willing to think the worst that they don’t try.

  41. Nevermind says:

    Why haven’t you just torrented the stupid Win7 iso? I mean, you have the product key, it’s completely legal, faster and easier than screwing around on MS site.

  42. Rick says:

    I hope you’re up and running again soon. Win 8 does have the occasional nice feature such as the new file copy dialogue.

    I’m curious, what were your issues with copy+ pasting in Linux? What throws most people is middle-click = paste.

  43. RJT says:

    I would also like to complain about Windows 7. I got an upgrade edition of Windows 7 to put on my new computer. I forgot to install Windows XP first to upgrade from (I have a legit disk and registration number and everything), and the installer is apparently the same for the upgrade edition as for the full edition because it installed no problem. But it wouldn’t accept the activation code. I only found out about this much later because I did not have an internet connection at the time, and by then I had a lot of vital files on the computer. I tried calling to explain and activate over the phone but I got some guy who just read the same words from a script over and over as if he were a robot. I have nowhere to port my files that I want to save to, so I am stuck with this installation. Fortunately, all that happens if you don’t activate Windows is that your desktop image will not save. Instead, you get a black background with the words, “This copy of Windows is not genuine,” at the bottom to remind you of how you are a filthy criminal. Still…it makes me really angry sometimes to see that snide phrase at the bottom of my screen. I actually saved money for two months to buy this copy of Windows legitimately. It was a significant fraction of the computer’s cost, and it will never work right.

  44. Zak McKracken says:

    Wouldn’t you have been able to
    1: use your W7 pro key on the W7 home installation? (I would have thought)
    2: maybe get a W7 pro DVD from somebody (anybody?) else? As long as you use your own registration key, all should be fine.

    anyway, I hope all’s okay now, and I suppose your parallel Linux installation did allow you to save all of your data.

    Also, I guess this is the benefit of having an old, traditional DVD-in-a-box: It does not loose it’s data as fast as a writeable one.

  45. Ross says:

    Oh my gosh. Your pain is just manifestly felt.

  46. Steve C says:

    “I’m not trying to solve a Microsoft problem”

    Possible typo? “now” maybe?

  47. Zak McKracken says:

    This may sound a bit sarcastic, but it’s not meant that way:

    Thanks for talking about this thing because it reminded me that I need to do a system backup of all of our Windows computers (which we have never done, so far).

  48. Zukhramm says:

    Most of Windows 8 is fine for the most part in my opinion. Despite having used Windows for most of my life I never grew any sort of affection to the start menu so replacing it with something else does not bother me at all, though I’d rather they replaced the desktop, letting regular old windows just float above the Metro menu instead of launching the old desktop into a separate world.

    What I can’t stand though is the context sensitive “charms” bar. I say context sensitive because the OS knows if you’re trying to intentionally trying to make it appear or if you’re doing something else. If you’re doing something else any mouse movement in the general area causes it to pop out, but if you’re trying it requires some kind of double quarter-circle fighting game command to appear.

    Having to mash your pointer onto the top or the corner of the screen to see what Metro apps are open or to close them is pretty bad though. It works better with a touchscreen though I don’t think that’s a great excuse. Some system that works well with both a mouse and a touchscreen must be possible, and it’s honestly not great with a touchscreen either.

    • MichaelGC says:

      It really does know, doesn’t it? :D

      I had some fun ‘n’ games just this past week trying to change an Autoplay setting: tried everything – the slow swandive down the right hand margin; swooping in fast diagonally from top left; the ‘generate-an-encryption-key’ waggle near the clock: nothing. Couldn’t even fool it by pretending I wanted to change the zoom-level in Word.

      Eventually System File Checker found a glitch which had disabled it, but my wrist still hurts a little bit.

  49. Zekiel says:

    Ouch. Just popping on to express huge sympathy.

    Also to say you’ve just made me very nervous about installing updates on my Windows 7 machine. I always thought that at the very worst I could roll back updates that didn’t work properly. Now….

  50. Dan says:

    Can dual-booting from Linux help mitigate this problem in the future?

    My experience with dual-booting is with OsX/Windows, so I’m making some assumptions based on that. But the OsX dual-boot setup handles this pretty well. When my Windows install gets borked I still have a working OsX install I can use to blow away the faulty Windows partition to do the reinstall. Would a dual-boot with Ubuntu work similarly?

  51. Mongoloid says:

    I think you could have installed a new Windows 7 copy without formatting the drive. That’s what I did.
    A couple of days ago, I replaced my motherboard and my Windows 7 install shit the bed. Bsod while loading.
    So I just installed a new copy over the same partition without formatting the drive. It made a Windows.old folder containing the old OS and I simply copy pasted all of my old config files from there.
    Happy end :)

    Also, the first think I do after getting the security updates on my Windows 7 is disabling Windows Update through services and ALL the rest of the useless services that do nothing but hog ram. It runs on 750mb ram after that.

  52. Jabrwock says:

    I’ve rebooted my Windows machine about 20 times now over the last week, each time it tells me I need to shut down to install an update, and then it doesn’t do it.

    I’d praise OS X for being able to recover from the “recovery” partition, but the last time I tried it, the recovery partition somehow didn’t get updated to the latest installer (system was Yosemite, recovery for some reason was still Mavericks), so it was trying to recover a partition it wasn’t new enough to do, and so the only option was to wipe my main drive and start from scratch.

    So after a very messy recovery, I made sure the recovery partition was updated, and now have a USB thumbstick with the latest as an alternate. And I’m going to have to have a note somewhere to remind me to verify each every time OS X does a major version update.

    Note to all you Time Machine users out there, do NOT exclude /Applications. It makes straight up recovering from a TM drive a pain. Make subfolders for your games/office/etc that you don’t want backed up, and exclude those directories instead. I thought I was saving space by not backing up anything but my home folder. Instead it made my recovery experience a multi-stage pain in the ass.

  53. Grin Of Madness says:

    Well, if Windows 8 ends up pissing you off too much there are Windows 7 OEM discs listed on Newegg that will work with the free Windows 10 upgrade whenever they release it.

  54. Zardon says:

    I believe you can download an ISO from Microsoft from here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-recovery

    • Jim P. says:

      “I believe you can download an ISO ”
      You can but this *only* works if you have a retail license key. As far as I know it will not work with the OEM key that comes with a machine or the (somewhat lower cost) “system builder” versions commonly sold.

      I haven’t tried it but I think the version you then get is keyed to that key, as it were. ;)

      Damned stupid of Microsoft to not just allow downloading of a standard/updated iso since you can’t do diddly without a license key at some point.

      If you have an OEM, machine like Dell, they will sell you a reinstall disc for some annoying but not horrid cost. Best thing to do is to make a reinstall disc as soon as you finish the endless round of updates and have a stable system.

      Hard drives are so cheap these days that the disc cloning idea mentioned above is actually a damned fine way to do stuff with minimal hassles and is probably safer than most backup schemes.

      For a pro whose income depends on their work, consider going to a mirrored hard drive RAID for your work products. or at least add an extra hard drive and make a copy of critical files from time to time when you go to lunch or bed or such. Once you get in the habit it takes next to no time as you let the PC do things during your down time.

      A cloche I constantly hammered into my people back when I was a working pro (I’m retired): “If you only have your data stored in one place, you don’t really have it stored any place”. Make a copy of everything that can cost you your job (or someone’s life) if you lose it. (I worked in intelligence and the latter wasn’t hyperbole.)

  55. James says:

    I torrented an ISO. not even a cracked one just the ISO for 7 after mine just stopped working to. Then the key stopped working, a Key I had used several times before. Their advice buy a new one, buy a new version of the OS I owned. I usually don’t condone pirating but at this point was it stealing, I owned it and it was stolen from me.

  56. Cybron says:

    I’ll just take a moment to remind everyone that every OS sucks

  57. phil says:

    drat, aren’t you guys supposed to be good at this computer stuff

    • MichaelGC says:

      Aye, right: but if you don’t have a decently high level of technical competence (if you’re like me, for example!), then none of the above options would really be available. Or at least, if attempted are unlikely to end well. (I couldn’t boot into Linux if my life depended on it, and I still don’t know what an “.iso” is.)

      So, I’d either have to get someone else to fix it, or just buy a whole new computer, wasting a lot more time and/or money either way.

      • Jim P. says:

        “So, I’d either have to get someone else to fix it, or just buy a whole new computer, wasting a lot more time and/or money either way.”

        Speaking as someone who charges by the hour, may I say how much I truly *love* people with your philosophy? :)

        No mockery intended. It’s what got me retired at 60 at about par with what I made working and my wife and I a lovely month long cruise to the South Pacific a couple of years ago as one happy side benefit of my skill set. May your tribe prosper and increase. :)

  58. Tudor says:

    Damn, it seems I am too late to the party to contribute with something useful :(

    http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/50034-Everything-MSDN-has-to-offer-for-Windows-7

    There are more W7 ISO links spread through the forum, but it’s easy to find them. Sticky those threads in case you need them someday. Also, keep a backup copy of the ISO somewhere on the other SSD/HDD partitions. I have been doing this for a while and hence, if my OS fails, I can always have the ISO on hand to burn on a CD or create a bootable USB drive.

    But yes, Microsoft nuking all download links for the W7 ISO’s was just another way of them grabbing our money and then screwing us over…just so we might end up liking the sales catastrophe that so far has represented W8/8.1.

    No Microsoft, I will not use your new OS if you shove it down my throat and force me to give up on W7. This is the exact opposite of how it should be done…

  59. Alec says:

    Probably too late for anyone to read this, but Classic Shell is the only reason I can keep working in the IT industry now that Win8’s interface has invaded the server realm. Use it and give em a donation if you like it as much as me!

  60. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

    I’m sure someone has already suggested it but you could use a recovery tool (there is a really good one but I forgot what it was called) or you could buy a new HDD and install Windows onto that, without having to nuke your files. I’m sure that would also have been cheaper than buying Windows 8.

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