Let me start off by saying that I have always maintained that Steve Jobs is the devil. Further, Apple computers are overrated, overpriced pieces of equipment that do no more than their PC equivalents do so at twice the price. They are more status symbol than computer. They’re like Toyota Priuses but without wheels.
All that having been said I am now about to utter words that I never thought would pass form my lips. My next computer may be an Apple. (Not that I am in the market for a new computer.) Why, you ask? What has led me to such a condition?
The answer is sadly, very simple. Microsoft has grown so big and so powerful that they have completely lost any thought for their customer and in fact have actively taken steps to make their customer’s life miserable, all in the name of trying to squeeze the last few bucks out of the market.
Here is my story. Last October, after my sudden job change, I no longer had access to the laptop that my employer supplied. I found myself in need of a laptop. I purchased a Compaq Presario with Windows Vista preloaded. (Vista was not my choice. It came with the computer and I would have had to pay extra to get Windows XP, the operating system that I had used for a number of years and loved. It was without a doubt the most stable, user friendly and all around best operating system I have ever used.) The computer has worked well since its purchase and other than some backward incompatibility issues with some older pieces of hardware and older versions of software, I found the horror stories I had heard about Vista to be mostly unfounded. That is, until last night.
Windows Vista (and Windows XP) has a feature that will cause the operating software to automatically check for and download updates to the software. Even though this seems like a good idea, turn this feature off NOW! The geniuses at Microsoft have created an evil little piece of software called Microsoft Windows Genuine Advantage. It is an advantage only for Microsoft. This piece of code’s only function is to make sure that none of the software on your computer is pirated. (I have no problem with Microsoft trying to ferret out and prevent software piracy. I only use licensed software and you should too.) My problem is that without tell you they download and install this piece of crap and then when it decides that it detects non-genuine Microsoft software on your system, it essentially disables it. That is what happened to me. Last night, after a hard day’s work and coming home and cutting the yard in 90+ degree heat I sat down to check my email. I booted up the computer than instead of getting my desktop, I get a dialog box warning me that my version of Windows Vista isn’t genuine and disabling my system other than allowing me to access their website to have their website tell me the same thing and offer me the opportunity to buy genuine Microsoft software. Needless to say I was pissed!
Then it starts. I first called Compaq, since I didn’t have a phone number for Microsoft. Microsoft avoided making such a number easy to find on their harassing website. As expected, the Compaq guy couldn’t do anything for me, but he was able to give me the first of the toll free numbers I was to dial that night for Microsoft. You can probably guess the story from here. I started in India, where the customer service people were nice but clueless and not very good at American english. I got bounced around from there, getting transferred numerous times. I was disconnected during transfer on 3 separate occasions. Luckily I always wrote down the number I was being transferred to. When I got transferred to a guy in Ireland, I was happy. I thought, “Finally, this guy will understand me and help me solve the problem.” Wrong, he was the worst. Arrogant, unhelpful and refused to transfer me to technical support without trying to charge $59.00 to my credit card first. Screw that! During my voluminous time on hold I cruised thru the Microsoft Vista forums, helpfully linked from the Windows Genuine Advantage website. In doing so I learned that lots of people were experiencing this problem. Great. Good job, Microsoft! Way to screw your actual customers while trying to ferret out the thieves! I think that is the definition of cutting off your nose to spite your face. There seemed to be no set solution to the problem, but there were several possible solutions. While on hold with Mike from Manila (the only person I talked to in the whole 2 ½ hour ordeal who was easily understood, could easily understand me and was polite and attempted to be helpful) I tried one of the suggested solutions from the forum. I rebooted the computer in safe mode, was able to actually get thru to my desktop, and then rebooted in normal mode. It solved the problem.
So thanks to Microsoft, I a loyal Microsoft customer since DOS 2.0, lost a relaxing evening at home, lost 2 ½ hours of my life and had enormous levels of stress and frustration inflicted on me, all so Microsoft could try and prevent (unsuccessfully) software piracy. Well, thanks to their behavior, the next time I look at a computer, I’ll be looking at a Mac.