Kyra’s friend Hannah is in need of a computer. She’d like one at home so she can do homework, read email, and (let’s not kid ourselves) watch goofy videos on YouTube and read Pinterest. Since I have shelves upon shelves of spare computer parts in the basement, I figured I could cobble something together and give her a computer that, while not stellar, would at least work for these things.
I found various components and built the system. It ended up with a 2GHz processor, 1GB of memory, and 500GB of disk space, with a dual-monitor video card. Not too bad! I thought it would be nice to install Windows for her, so she’d at least have a desktop environment that’s familiar. She could also install various programs if needed. I dug up an old Windows 7 install DVD and started working on it. I think that was around 10am today. Now it’s after 4pm and the system still isn’t useable. I had to dig through internet forums to learn how to install the appropriate drivers for the video card (isn’t Windows supposed to auto-detect that?) so I could have a screen with better than 800×600 resolution. I applied all 107 Windows updates; the download alone took over an hour and the installation took over two. Even after that, everything ran like molasses because Windows 7 enables a bunch of ridiculous compositing effects. I switched to a “basic” theme that didn’t include Aero, and that seemed to help a bit. Google Chrome refuses to install, citing a “lack of appropriate hardware”. When I load a YouTube video I get a black box with nice audio but no image. Even web sites are slow to the point of making me want to cry.
One might argue that Windows 7 is a newer operating system and should therefore only be installed on newer hardware. But sheesh, this box isn’t that bad– a few years old, and certainly the equivalent of a reasonable laptop. Why, then, is this such a horrid experience?
After talking to Hannah a bit, it seems like she doesn’t really need Windows at all– she just needs a web browser. So it’s sayonara, Windows, and hello Linux. I’m going to set up a basic Linux system, configure auto-upgrades, and I suspect it’ll work out of the box.
This is why I just don’t even mess with Windows any more.