Windows Suckitude

I had to completely reinstall GameOS (a Windows XP disk that I keep around for the occasional gaming session), losing all my saved games, because Windows somehow magically corrupted its partition setup. I didn’t have any backups of GameOS, because I didn’t feel that it was worth the extra cost and electrons to have a disk with only 40gig of games on it. The price I paid was a reinstall. Ah well.

I’m not a big fan of Microsoft, as those who know me are aware, but I can accept that there is a place for their software. It’s now getting to the point that I’m much more used to Unix based systems, and the specifics of how you admin a Windows machine are just so different that I find it much harder to achieve what I want to do in a reasonable amount of time. The hardware upgrade and software reinstall of Ubuntu (from AMD64 to x86) went much smoother than attempting to get Windows working.

I find Windows hard to use when all is not well, because it abstracts away all of its innards. When things go wrong, I find it hard to open the bonnet and get my hands dirty in the engine, fixing whatever is a little awry. Too much of the ‘fixes’ in Windows land appear to be “reinstall something, and then reboot”. It’s all very IT Crowd “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

Windows also seems to suffer from ailments that I just don’t get under Linux. I had a LAN party some years back, and someone’s machine had a virus… which affected my GameOS. I didn’t have virus protection installed because

  • I never connected that machine to the Internet (this was pre-Steam et al)
  • I have a firewall between the GameOS machine and the big, bad Internet
  • I didn’t want to have to continually update software to catch the latest viruses
  • I didn’t want to have to pay for software to fix a problem that should never have existed

so the virus was able to get in because I trusted my mate’s friends more than I should have. I now use free virus scan software to protect against infected friends.

I think Windows can be quite good for certain things (like games), and you just need to be very specific about what those things are. You also need to understand and accept that with Windows comes a variety of caveats:

  • Install anti-virus software, and get regular updates to its blacklist
  • Patch regularly, particularly if you’re Internet connected
  • Replace Internet Explorer with something better, like Firefox
  • Don’t ever change the hardware without major planning, and a full set of backups

Now I’m off to replay a bunch of games from scratch. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all!

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