Why does every new version of Windows feel like a major life change? How did a piece of computer software acquire the power to thoroughly disrupt my existence?
In the past I’ve “upgraded” (ha!) Windows only when forced to, and the purchase of a new computer with Windows already installed was always involved. I became acquainted with Microsoft’s product back in the 1980s when my first PC, an IBM that ran on DOS and didn’t even have a hard drive, began to feel hopelessly inadequate. The first version of Windows I owned ran on an 80 MB hard drive and left plenty of room for other things. How quaint that seems now.
One by one, my subsequent computers failed as computers inevitably do, and I had to adapt to a new version of Windows with each purchase of a new system. My Windows 98 computer lasted longer than most, and I expected to stay with it until it died. Then we gave up our DSL phone line in favor of FIOS (a waste of money, in my opinion, but that’s another story). My husband’s computer was newer and had XP on it, and it could handle FIOS internet service. My computer couldn’t even connect to the in-house network. I bought a new one, and I liked Windows XP from the start.
When Vista arrived, I heard and read all the complaints about the behemoth that ate disk space and files indiscriminately, and I was happy to stay with XP. Then my motherboard died. Replacing it on an “old” computer didn’t seem worthwhile, so I gave in and bought a new machine with Vista on it. Oy. What a mess. What a headache. Inexplicable system crashes. Inexplicable program crashes. Software incompatibility (even between new and earlier versions of Microsoft programs). Lost files. Lost patience. Lost temper.
I couldn’t go backward, though, without wiping my hard disk and starting from scratch with a new install of XP and everything else, and the very thought gave me a headache. I waited for The Next Big Thing from Microsoft. Beta testers didn’t like what they were seeing and predicted that Win7 would be another disaster, but I figured nothing could be as bad as Vista.
Friends keep asking me why I don’t buy a Mac. It’s mainly because I don’t want to give up software programs I love that will only run under Windows and I don’t want the chore of converting a lot of files. My word processor, Lotus Word Pro for Windows, is dear to my heart. It has features I haven’t seen elsewhere, and whenever I’m forced to use Word or Word Perfect, I’m reminded again how much easier Word Pro is. I’ll put up with Windows to keep Word Pro.
As last week's Windows 7 release date approached, the opinions of the testers shifted. Windows 7 was suddenly something that everyone MUST have.
I wish I could have bought it, installed it, and moved on. Unfortunately, my hard drive has been making odd clicking sounds off and on. I don’t know what the source of the noise is, but I know it’s bad news. I decided to change hard disks, then install Windows 7.
I’d once had CompUSA copy the entire contents of an old hard drive onto a new, bigger, faster one, but CompUSA is gone now and I thought I’d handle the transfer myself this time. I read articles about cloning, printed out instructions from the internet, downloaded cloning software. With a trip to Bouchercon coming up, though, I changed my mind. I would have the Staples tech service do all the tedious work while I was away. I talked to a guy at Staples who said yeah, they could do that. Well, they couldn’t. Or wouldn’t. Once they had my computer in their possession, they said that cloning a hard disk was illegal, a violation of copyright, and couldn’t be done. Never mind that Vista itself includes a utility, however cumbersome, for just this purpose.
I was back where I started. I could hire a rent-a-geek, but to heck with techies. I would do it myself. I re-read all the articles and instructions, giving myself pep talks.
I can do this.
Yes, I can.
I haven’t even started yet, and I’m a nervous wreck.
I’m not having major surgery or moving to another state. Those events would be relaxing by comparison. I’m doing something much more nerve-wracking: installing a new version of Windows, entrusting all the precious data on my computer to software I’ve never used before. If I suddenly drop off the edge of the online world, you’ll know it didn’t go well. Please send your teenage kid to rescue me and my computer!
How do you handle upgrades? Are you a Windows sufferer or a Mac snob? How many computers have you owned, and do you remember your first one?