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Author Topic: "The Problem with Microsoft is..."  (Read 7342 times)
zridling
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« on: May 20, 2005, 12:52:17 AM »

In her latest newsletter, Karen Kenworthy made a mistake with her installer:
Quote
THE DEBUT OF A NEW PROGRAM IS ALWAYS A NERVOUS TIME, HERE AT THE SECLUDED POWER TOOLS WORKSHOP. IS THE PROGRAM REALLY USEFUL? WILL IT WORK CORRECTLY? WILL EVERYONE UNDERSTAND HOW TO USE IT? MORE IMPORTANTLY, CAN IT BE USED IN A MALICIOUS WAY? DOES THE PROGRAM, OR ITS INSTALLER, EVER UNINTENTIONALLY DO HARM?

UNFORTUNATELY, FOR A TIME LAST WEEK, THAT FINAL FEAR CAME TRUE. BECAUSE OF MY ERROR, THE INSTALLER FOR MY NEW PROGRAM, "KAREN'S ONCE-A-DAY," CORRUPTED SOME SYSTEMS. ON COMPUTER'S RUNNING WINDOWS 95, WINDOWS 98, WINDOWS 98 SE, AND WINDOWSME, THE INSTALLER IMPROPERLY REPLACED A FILE NAMED MSVCRT.DLL WITH A ONE INTENDED FOR LATER VERSIONS OF WINDOWS. AT BEST, THIS MISTAKE CAUSED ANERROR MESSAGE TO APPEAR, THE NEXT TIME THE COMPUTER WAS REBOOTED. BUT AT WORST — AND THIS DID HAPPEN — IT CAUSED WINDOWS TO CRASH WHEN REBOOTED. IN THOSE CASES, THE USER HAD TO RESTORE THE ORIGINAL MSVCRT.DLL FILE, SOMETIMES BY REINSTALLING WINDOWS. I CAN'T SAY HOW SORRY I AM FOR THIS MISTAKE....

I do not actually code anything, so I don't have firsthand knowledge (at most I can do webdev using HTML, XML, and basic CSS). However, I'm eager to know:
__(1) What has been your own frustrations when building applications on the Windows platform?
__(2) How much is Microsoft's fault and how could they make it better/simpler?
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zridling
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« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2005, 01:06:38 AM »

[TANGENT]
I will also admit this: Since I've never coded for Windows, I neither know nor understand such frustrations. But I do like and depend on several Microsoft Office 2003 products, among them Word, OneNote, and Excel on a daily basis. When most people complain about Word's quirks, I sympathize to an extent, but often their complaints come down to a failure to understand three things: styles, templates, and breaks. Some folks never figure this out either because they don't have the time or don't have the patience.

If you want a nice history of Microsoft Office from someone who lived it and coded it, check out Chris Pratley's excellent blog and read the entries from January 2004 to April 2004. You might find the readers' attacks as interesting as Chris' explanations.
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mouser
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2005, 01:49:31 AM »

the blog looks great, going to sit down with a beer and give it a read.

regarding ms, i am slowly turning into one of those MS haters, despite my struggle against it.

 It's not that i don't recognize the great stuff
they've done, but i've grown increasingly intolerant of the horrible
stuff they've unleashed.  For example i don't know if you've
experienced any of the evilness that is the Microsoft Windows
Installer, a totally unnesc. thing that never needed to be written,
and can cause some truely f*cked up behavior, like programs trying to
"fix" themselves and rolling back installs, and generall causing
unfixable havok based on whimsy.  I use MS Word for academic writing
quite a bit and it never ceases to amaze me how insane it can be about
reformating paragraphs based on neighboring formating.  ie headers of
one type merge into another,etc.  Each version comes out with more
insane features (like changing menus), while these fundamental things
don't get fixed.  Its stuff like that, and some of the decisions they
make (wordperfect has a "show hidden codes" option that lets you see
the secret formatting codes that can help you figure out whats going
on; naturally ms has no interest in helping you to see this).

I installed MS XP sp2 and it broken my MS Visual c++ compiler.  the
error message: "internal error".

in fact, it blows my mind the the most likely probablems i encounter
on my computer are inevitably due to ms products interfering with each
other in this way...

i spent about 6 or 7 hours over two days when testing ftp servers, trying to figure out why
 for some reason, i could no longer generate server ssl certificate.  no matter what program i tried to use, the build int ftp server certificate generating programs, or microsoft's ssl self-signing certificate utility, they all simply refused to run, exiting with a meaingless message.

i finally stumbled on a newsgroup post that suggested the problem might be caused by not having correct folder permission on some deep folder, and in fact that was the problem. it's things like this, not reporting a useful error, that kills me the most.  it's not that i mind so much that something has gone wrong, but at least least tell me enough to know wtf it is i should try to fix.

MS pull this shit consistently.  why do i need  to hire a team of professionals to figure out how to disable a word addin?  why are such addins scattered in various places and each have their own technique for disabling?

i recently wrote a program on this site to change the default browser.
you don't want to know how many semi-redudant, conflicting, insane registry settings their are that all effect default browser.

it is enough to drive you mad.

personally i know there is no god, because if there was, he would come down and make us start the computer revolution over again.
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Jibz
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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2005, 03:18:08 AM »

I think what bugs me the most is how increasingly obtrusively helpful their products attempt to be, while desperately trying to hide the ever increasing complexity.

One example was Clippy, which popped up at the most bizarre times offering help. Personally, if I want help I'll use the help system. I much prefer not to get interrupted every 5 minutes by a cartoon character while working.

Another is the brilliant information dialog:

Quote
Cannot delete foobar: It is being used by another person or program.
Close any programs that might be using the file and try again.

That's about as useless as it gets .. should I try closing random apps/people until I find the right one?

I think there should be a much larger difference between the Pro and Home edition of Windows XP. Put all the colorfully condescending cartoon crap into Home, and the powerful professional performance back in Pro (hmm .. I should write political speeches mrgreen).
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"A problem, properly stated, is a problem on it's way to being solved" -Buckminster Fuller
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Scott
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« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2005, 04:53:44 PM »

Ugh the Windows Installer...  I can't think of any other bit of software that makes my blood boil on so regular a basis.  That piece of shit irritates me every time I use it.

Why a developer would purposely choose it over freeware alternatives, even for tiny, one-file applications, is beyond me.  For one thing, it creates a slew of registry and file litter, regardless of how small the application that gets installed is.  I find it ironic when I notice that the entire application itself is much smaller than the installer's remnants, and when the application itself uses one (or even zero) registry keys, but the installer creates a dozen or more.

Then Windows Installer--piece of crap that it is--decides on a seemingly random basis to make changes to your system, totally without notice.  This has happened to me with Paint Shop Pro and Microsoft Word 2002 more than I want to think about.  For no apparent reason, when I've launched either of those applications, I'd see shortcuts recreated all over the place, optional features re-added (even though I didn't want them), and other aggravating insanity like that.  I've even had this happen immediately after a reboot, during startup, out of the blue!

Windows Installer also seems overly complicated, and messy.  Why does it create Config.msi folders all the time, and why is it always under the root directory, and not under %temp%?  Why does it lock files and directories for no apparent reason?  Why does it need its own service?

It all makes me almost grind my teeth into powder...
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« Next Edit: Tomorrow at 12:13:47 AM by Scott »
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« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2005, 05:24:21 PM »

i agree, windows installer has to be the most evil piece of software ever invented... and the fact that it was totally unnesc. and never should have been built in the first place is just poison icing on the poison cake.
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zridling
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2005, 03:54:14 AM »

I love what individuals build, though, to make Windows better. Each of us can think of a dozen programs off the top of our head that makes us go: "Why didn't Microsoft just do THAT?!" Someone mentioned in another thread why doesn't Microsoft offer FrontPage's code (tab) page as a freeware HTML utility? It's great, and that's a good idea to me.

One big gripe I have as a non-coder is Windows Registry. Why doesn't Microsoft offer a decent Registry editing tool, or something to actually remove the continuous crap dumped there? They don't want the idiots monkeying around with Registry, okay, fine. But the rest of us don't want the thing to grow and grow and grow. And I hate people who say: "It doesn't make a difference in performance if fragments are left in the Registry, so why should you care?"

ARRRRRGGHHH, where'd I put my Ronco flame thrower!
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Scott
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2005, 02:42:08 PM »

Why does registry fragmentation matter?  Windows keeps it in memory anyway.  I suppose if it was very, very large, and very, very fragmented (on disk), it might matter on startup, but other than that...?
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« Next Edit: Tomorrow at 12:13:47 AM by Scott »
zridling
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« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2005, 01:56:25 AM »

I misspoke. I meant to say fragments left in the Registry after an app is uninstalled. It truly doesn't make a noticeable performance difference, but it shouldn't be left there for me to wonder "What is that?" when I'm trying to find certain keys and values.
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Scott
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« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2005, 01:58:24 AM »

I can't say much; I'm an incredibly-anal ultra-neat-freak myself.
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zridling
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« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2005, 05:53:10 PM »

I'm a neat-freak about certain areas, for example, my bathroom is almost always spotless, yet my computer room is a working mess; my C-drive must be kept nice and defragmented, but my D-drive where I keep all the good stuff is a dump. I went to the grocery today and saw a disgusting lady with her hugely fat beer-gut hanging out of her tube-top and almost lost my lunch. So some people should be more anal about some things — put on some clothes, you pig!  thumbs up
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« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2005, 06:00:57 PM »

--thought better of this post.  move along, move along.  sorry.--
« Last Edit: May 22, 2005, 09:00:04 PM by Scott » Logged

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zridling
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« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2005, 02:25:42 AM »

Between the two avatars and the anal fixation, that does make a hilarious image.
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« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2005, 07:28:57 AM »

I despise how they suck in any decent software house that produces anything that has a good chance of being serious competiton and turn it into a POS.

I can say that about a lot of the big software corporations too.
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