Windows Still Works for Me

I ran across this story from Ernie the Attorney today about a lawyer who was having trouble with Windows and got some rather strange advice from a “Windows zealot” in a discussion group:

The Windows zealot tells him that if he switches to a Mac just to avoid those problems he’s basically ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water.’ Then, after carefully considering the best way to solve all of the guy’s supposed problems, he offers this amazing solution:

“Do a fresh install of Windows XP. This will ultimately be quicker than trying to figure out what is going on exactly. Once installed update Windows until it will update no more.” (emphasis added)

Between that story and things like “How to install Windows XP in 5 hours or less,” it sort of got me thinking – what is wrong with this picture?

Let me just say from the start: I use Windows. I like Linux (both for its principles and for its intrinsic qualities) and I appreciate Mac OS X (being itself based on Unix), but I use Windows. That said, I do not recommend any one OS over another – it all depends on what you’re looking for. So let’s just say that I’m neither a zealot of any particular OS, nor a “basher” or “hater” of any particular OS, either.

When I hear stuff about the “Windows half-life” and the idea that having to completely re-install the OS on a regular basis is a “normal” thing, I just can’t understand it – because, frankly, my experiences have been totally different.

Let me explain:

The copy of Windows that is running on my current computer is the same one that was installed when it came from Dell’s factory – it has never been re-installed, ever. And I’ve owned it for almost 3 and a half years. My previous computer ran for nearly 6 years without an OS re-install.

Let’s also remember that I only own one computer, and I use it every day – and I do mean “use.” I do software development on my computer, I install beta versions of programs, I install games (admittedly not many, but still), I do some video editing, I do a little bit of music editing, I use bluetooth headsets and IP telephony, I use the Windows Media Center application… I mean, well, just look at a few of my start menu branches:

Get the picture?

Oh, and I should mention – my computer is running just fine after 3 and a half years, thank you.

In my experience, all that it takes to keep Windows in good running order is some common sense – don’t install junk, and just… use your brain (especially when it comes to email and some types of web sites), and you should be OK.

But… maybe I’m the exception to the rule? I am a software developer, after all – if I see trouble with a program, I’m liable to just fire up a debugger and dive right in and figure out exactly what’s gone wrong.

To me, when someone suggests re-installing the operating system as a “fix,” it’s like being slapped in the face with a dead herring – I mean, seriously, WTF? Oh, sure, it’s possible for malware and viruses to get their little tentacles deep down in your system so that the only reasonable way to get rid of them is to format & re-install, but if you use common sense, you wouldn’t have malware and viruses to begin with! (And I submit that if there was the same malware and viruses for Linux or Mac OS, you’d end up having to do formats & re-installs for those systems as well.)

Are people just getting lazy when it comes to taking care of their Windows PCs? Or am I the only one who has gotten long life from a Windows installation?

By Keith Survell

A geek, programmer, amateur photographer, anime fan and crazy rabbit person.