Windows: a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there

Note: The article refers to a video I found on YouTube that used to be here, but which disappeared. I have no recollection of this video, which I would love to replace, since this article remains topical today. I’ve tried Googling the unique id (which was 3F-ACkXn5tU), but all I find is pages with links to Mac vs. PC ads, and this was an ad from the 1930s.

It boggles my mind that Microsoft didn’t engineer a smoother upgrade path to Windows 7 for XP users. There’s two possibilities: they wanted to but couldn’t manage it (i.e. incompetence, lousy architecture), or they didn’t even think of trying (utter stupidity). Consider this: when you repartition your hard disk using Boot Camp to install and run Windows on an Intel Mac you go through less pain than someone upgrading from XP to Windows 7.

It also boggles my mind that they’re charging full price for upgrades from Vista. OK, calling Windows 7 “Vista SP3” wouldn’t have shaken off the bad Vista mojo, but don’t burn your most loyal customers. (It’s also amazing to me that the only “smooth” upgrade path for Vista owners is to either one specific version of Windows 7 or the ridiculously priced “Ultimate” — and that PC reviewers don’t have a problem with this.)

Apple aims ads squarely at Microsoft’s Aero Jaw

It’s nice to see Apple nail the Windows 7 upgrade situation so nicely in a 30s ad. The funny thing is, I didn’t really see this as material for an ad campaign because — like most Mac users* — I live in an almost alien world where even a “clean install” doesn’t mean backing up your entire hard disk and reinstalling all your applications. The kind of stupidly painful crap a Windows user lives with is incomprehensible to me — and the lack of such painful crap seems like some kind of impossible utopia.

* I use both Macs and PCs, but I don’t keep anything I care about on PCs any more. So while I am a “PC user” in a technical sense, I’m just a tourist. I don’t have to live with that shit.

Microsoft's "retail experience" -- I can't make this stuff up
Microsoft’s “retail experience” — I can’t make this stuff up

It’s not which OS crashes more — Mac OS 9 was less stable than Windows 2000. It’s not which OS looks better — Mac OS 7.5 looked way worse than Windows 95. It’s which OS works better or worse by design. Number of times a typical Mac user has had to “back up all their stuff” before installing a new Mac OS: 0. Amount of time spent reinstalling apps after upgrading to Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard: 0. It’s like the answer to Al Franken’s question, “how many medical bankruptcies were there in Switzerland last year?” Yes, Windows truly is the US Healthcare System of Operating Systems.

Apple’s other on-target ad (the third new ad, featuring a “faux news report”, seems crude, heavy-handed, and — worst of all — not funny to me) simply derides Microsoft for always promising and failing to deliver an experience that sucks less than the last thing it sold you… it won’t be like Windows Vista… XP… ME… 98… 95… 2. (Why did they skip Windows 3? I know why they skipped Windows 2000 — most of us remember it quite fondly.) Microsoft’s history of screwing up flagship software is pretty astonishing. Younger readers will not know that until DOS5 came out no version of DOS RESTORE could cope with BACKUP files from the previous version of DOS.