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Why is it so hard?

Upgrading to a new computer is just gut wrenchingly difficult.  When my old Dell gave up the ghost,  I thought I was prepared to make a smooth transition to a newer computer.  Let me just say that blissful ignorance sure allows for sound sleep at night.

I have two back up laptops, a Dell Inspiron and an older Dell Latitude.  The Latitude is the designated “go to” back up because it has a separate air card and everything to make it totally independent of any other laptop.  My GF is using the Latitude and it was in Dallas.  The Inspiron was in the Old Girl and ready to go so I unpacked it, thinking I could just use the Merlin Aircard in the Inspiron.  Well, you have to have the software for the aircard to work so I was up the proverbial river.  A trip to Dallas was in order.

I ordered a new Dell XPS M1330 while

Dell XPS M1330

Dell XPS M1330

I was in Dallas and returned back to the jobsite in Jasper with the Latitude to wait on the new computer to be delivered in Dallas.

I use my computer and the internet constantly but I am not one of those geeks who has to have the newest gadget or upgrade something that is not broke. The ordering process with Dell was a little flawed. I have a good bit of older software installed; Microsoft Office, Outlook, Frontpage and more that worked great with Windows XP Pro. Dell had ONE laptop — a low end Inspiron available with Windows XP. I broke with the normal routine of ordering online and spent a forgettable Sunday afternoon on the phone with Dell Sales trying everything I could think of to get a decent laptop with the Windows XP operating system. It ain’t happening folks.

I ‘settled’ for a really nice Dell XPS M1330 and now, a week later, I have to say it is a great little laptop –except for the Windows Vista. I loaded the M1330 with a fast Dual Core processor and 4 gigs of ram and went with the Vista 64 bit OS to take advantage of the speed. I have to say the laptop is fast. I also got the Laplink PC Mover software to make the transfer of files a snap.

Save your money on the PC Mover folks. It is a waste of time. It did transfer all my settings for several programs like my web browser and a few more. The big ones like Office and Frontpage had to be re-installed from scratch. The biggest problem was getting the Microsoft programs to work with Vista. Digitally signed drivers, file access problems, re-activation nightmares; it has been a HUGE ordeal. Now why is it that the Microsoft programs are so much trouble to upgrade to a Microsoft operating system????? Just doesn’t make sense to me…. not even a little.

The biggest casualty was the Microsoft Outlook 2003. I liked it for my email — powerful and familiar after all these years and I had no urge to upgrade or change it. Problem is Microsoft quit ‘supporting’ it in 2006 so the 2003 version that has served me so well for years is an orphan. It doesn’t work with Vista. Well it works but you have to re-enter all the passwords for every email account each time you turn the computer on because Vista does not recognize the way Outllook stores the passwords. Microsoft’s advice is to upgrade to Outlook 2007 ($$) or use the new Vista Mail. Screw ’em. I am using Mozilla Thunderbird for email. It is not as robust or full featured as Outlook but it works with every operating system out there and I just bet they will continue that trend for years to come.

The only other hassle –now that I have got all the other programs kinda sorted out– is the digitally signed drivers that Vista requires. My Merlin Aircard is a Dell branded product and it is advertised to work with Vista BUT the drivers are not digitally signed. Now listen to this… I had to change the broadband aircard utility from the XP version to the Vista version to get it to work correctly. So I downloaded it from Dell and Dell says it is for Vista and they know Vista requires digitally signed drivers but it doesn’t work that way. The broadband card utility does not have digitally signed drivers! Every time I start my shiny, super duper state of the art laptop, I have to hold down the F8 key and go to the Safe Boot screen. Vista has the option on that screen to override the digitally signed driver requirement but it is not a permanent override. You have to do it each time the computer starts up.

So Vista knows it is a problem, Dell knows what the Vista requirements are but for some corporate bullying, little man stomping reason, they don’t care. It just doesn’t seem quite right, now does it? I wish I was more of a geek so I could run Linux or something. Maybe that will be a good project for this winter when work is slow. In the meantime, I will just join the rest of the sheep consumers and lower my expectations. In this day and time I guess buying a new something and expecting it to work correctly right out of the box is just to much to ask.

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