Upgrade to Windows Vista: a tough slog

I decided to upgrade my computer’s operating system before the easiest ways to do that become collectibles on eBay. Uh-huh, I’ve stuck by XP, because the press was so bad on the succeeding OS, Vista, that it’s the Heaven’s Gate of Microsoft products. There is some counter talk that Vista is just a big operating system being forced to run on outdated dinky XP hardware, but that’s hard to judge without installing Vista on my oldest mother board. (Oh, yeah, I tried that. The installation complained immediately that the BIOS wasn’t up to snuff and didn’t allow sophisticated power-saving techniques. When I solved that problem, I discovered these power-saving methods by default! include turning off my monitor, which has always been a sign to me of a major crash. Extremely bad idea Microsoft! Why not just use a blue screen of death as the default screen saver?)

I bought an upgrade version of Vista Home Premium, chosen because it would lead to Home Premium or Ultimate Windows 7. It installed speedily in about two hours. I had an appointment, so I couldn’t take the time to suss out why my works-in-XP-and-Linux Logitech mouse wouldn’t work. Or what a failed user logon was.

Silly me. I thought the failed logon was because I had forgotten my password. I have never used User Logons on Windows, though I do in Linux, because the Penguin insists. No, it was not a forgotten password: the whole structure of users on Vista was terribly off. If there were no auto logon to Safe Mode, I would have just stared at the user screen. As it was, I booted emergency Linux from a CD to go online over and over. (Windows does not like the Linux boot loader.)

After three days of trying everything, including sure-fire registry edits and a cheap new mouse, I discovered the hidden administrator system user and how to activate it. This can be done in safe mode from a command prompt, because safe mode is all I had working in Vista. This method is supposed to be a security risk, so I won’t detail it here, but search for it.

Now why is getting this logon fixed so important??? BECAUSE YOU CAN’T RE-INSTALL VISTA WITHOUT IT.

Yep, you can’t install from a cold boot with the DVD or from safe mode.

I was concerned I would mess up the system further by re-installing, but the re-install went well — better than the first time.

After trying a few things in safe mode — SM hmm sending us a message — I unplugged and plugged in my mouse. Hardware driver installed! It worked. After the re-install, the device manager listed no mouse at all. This was an improvement. Before, DevMan said everything was fine, but my mouse was frozen. And of course, it would not detect a mouse as new hardware, no matter what. And no Virginia, you cannot navigate Windows well with just the keyboard.

The next day, because people had said that the SP1 upgrade for Vista made it faster, I installed it. It’s roughly 500 megs and tt takes about an hour to run. Oww.

Zap! All my usernames worked. It even logged me in by default as the most likely system user. Sweet.

In the end, though, I think what anyone is doing on a computer is like creating a painting. The painting is the most important thing. Second in importance, paints and brushes — the programs. And third, way behind, the bucket to carry things in, the operating system.

Right now, Linux makes it simple to do regular stuff and hard to do fancy things. That’s because Linux at the command prompt is a whole other language. On the other hand, Vista makes it really tough to do much of anything.

Anyone for Windows 7?