What Mom Wanted for Mother's Day: Downgrade me to XP!

Last Mother's Day I was commissioned to pick out the best laptop in the world for Mom by Dad. I did, or so I thought. It is an amazing IBM Thinkpad and we got everything for her.

Mom is a former computer teacher and pretty proficient, but she has a temperamental satellite internet connection and doesn't like to be a "geek," she raised one (me) so she's earned the right to let me do it.

So, we went with Vista because that was "the thing" (and IBM recommended it - now they've posted information on downgrading on their site however Mom just called and they said "there is nothing we can do for you legally, mam, and if you downgrade you will have a mess." )

Buying Vista was a big mistake!

It has been nothing but trouble! It upgrades and updates every moment. The joke was when my sister got broadband cellular this week that I would borrow the card and blog on trips, she'd teach her online course for SCAD and Mom chimed in and said,

"Hey, Microsoft Vista can update while we're on vacation."

Vista has been a Disaster

To say VISTA is unusable is an understatement. I set Mom up personally and as soon as I leave, sometime during the week it asks a question that she doesn't know how to answer and she's down again.

I turned off the nasty user interface only to have it come back again like an awful hangnail.

And this week was the final straw. We're all on gmail so we can chat and my daughter tried chatting her grandmother.

Despite the fact we've chatted before and I set it up, now Vista is blocking gmail chat -- the point was, things work and then they somehow stop working.

Mom is no dummy -- she's taken over 500 hours of computer related courses at the local college from A+ certification to every application known to man. The problem is, she's not a geek because it would take a geek to make the darn thing work.

Maintenance Nightmare
Four months a go, I just had her bring me the laptop once a month to do all of the updates and fixes here, just to keep it working.

We have three Vista laptops on our campus of 85 computers and 3 servers. I've spent more time on the Vista computers than all of the other ones combined this year.

I've stayed quiet on the VISTA bashing, however, I'm completely fed up. I don't like doing things that make Mom's life miserable and that is what I've done.

If this is what Microsoft is going to do without Bill Gates, they are in trouble. I have no "dog in this fight," however, I will not have another VISTA computer on campus.

Mom asked me to give her this for Mother's Day:

"Will you downgrade my computer to XP so that I can use it?"

My answer: "Yes." And when I figure out how, I'm going to do it at school too.

I'm issuing this Complaint on Behalf of My Mom
Mom also asked me how she could best complain to Microsoft and that is when I promised to make this blog post. You see, computers are our lives now.

Mom's computer is her link to her grandchildren, her cookbook that she wants to publish (and can barely work on) her e-mail link with her family that lives out of town, and her calendar. It is simply her life.

And this part of her life is broken. I don't know why, but it is.

And the answer isn't in sending another enormous update that will cause her computer to freeze, stop responding, and be unable to use anything and for me to drive out there AGAIN... the answer is in having some programmers work out a way for every single person to downgrade and send them a CD.

As for now, more people than ever are looking at Mac's and Linux alternatives.

It is not just because Microsoft has released a bad operating system, it is because they are messing with our lives, and amidst all of the great tools that do work, we just don't have time for one that doesn't.

I've been using Microsoft since Windows 1.0 in 1987 and computers since the TRS-80 in the 1970's when I was eight and have never, I repeat, never had an operating system upgrade that I didn't eventually get used to and take to -- but this is it.

I've listened with interest on the "techies" I love like Leo Laporte and John C. Dvorak but this is the most important opinion. Windows Vista ... if Mom hates you, so do I.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. This blog's for you.

Update at 8:19 pm:
Mom called IBM to ask for the downgrade CD and they told her there is nothing they can do for her and "If you downgrade, you will have a mess, Mam." Mom is upset and says "Why bother, Maybe I should buy a Mac." This was a $2000 computer -- she should be able to use it! (They will only downgrade OEM Professional or something like that.)

Update at 8:53 pm: A friend of mine from Microsoft is helping me out with this problem. I am so grateful that I'm in tears. Although I was ready to take time off tomorrow and go get XP, Mom has already spent enough money on this and to have Microsoft do the right thing, even if it is in a roundabout way will restore her faith. I'm going to call her now.

(I have to add this -- I adore Windows XP and I LOVE Office 2007, they did get that right. Smart Art is amazing! I also really like the Expression web product as well that we taught in my class this year but this is just WRONG!)

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