Yesterday I abandoned my long love affair with Windows XP and upgraded to Windows 7 which, frankly, sucks, being fragile and unstable, at least as far as Windows Explorer is concerned.
You must have seen those dorky ads MS used to run, with people claiming “I’m a PC!” and that they were personally responsible for elements of Win 7? Well, if they were responsible, it must have been on the days when they were let out of the asylum for a bit of fresh air.
Not to mention the ads which boasted how much Win 7 held your hand while you were using it because, quite obviously, MS thought you were a cretin.
Windows 7 is designed for people who either hate PCs, or have never seen one before in their lives, so don’t realise how shit it is. For this experienced user it’s purgatorial.
First problem came with installation. Computer claimed that the files were corrupted. A quick search on Google, for which I had to reconnect my old XP PC, revealed that this is an old, and well–known fault with Win 7. You’d think, then, that Microsoft would have fixed it, but no. They do provide a tool so that you can copy the ISO images to a USB drive, and install from that, which works perfectly but – and it’s an important point – how would their target market, newbies and the inept, know either of those things? And why should they have to?
And once installed, Win 7 is proving way too fragile. My new PC has a 2.8GHz processor and 6GB memory, so it’s no slouch, but ask it to multitask, and Windows Explorer crashes in flames. True, it repairs itself, but only after hanging for half an hour or more first, before flashing an “Oops, I’ve fucked up” message, and slinking off to pull itself together.
And if you connect an external HDD, as I did, ignore it if it tells you the files are corrupted and it offers to fix them for you. What WILL happen is that Windows Explorer will crash and burn, and you’ll be locked out of the external HDD until you reboot your PC. And no, I have no idea why!
But by far the most infuriating aspect of Win 7 is the fact that some genius decided to abandon the Quick Launch menu – I had a load of regularly-used apps in there, every-day ones in view, the rest hidden away out of sight. It took up very little space, was immensely useful, and now it’s gone. The alternative is to pin frequently-used apps to the Task Bar, which is an inelegant and space-consuming solution as you could wish for.
I’m also – god help me – finding my way around Word 2007, a more perverse piece of software I’ve yet to meet. All of the absolutely vital controls are hidden away in dark corners, with bugger all indication of where they’re hiding or, even, that there are dark corners to look in – who would suspect that clicking on the upper left logo reveals hundreds of settings? Well. OK. me, but only because |I already have it on my Netbook – come to it as a newbie, and you’re seriously screwed. And it’s not great at punctuation, even when you’ve found the settings that tinker with it. For example, it doesn’t recognise the ellipsis (three dots, usually with half a space between them (when typed in a word processor), like this … except in doesn’t insert the spacing, as you can see – it just remains 3 periods in a row. And while I’m typing, the fucking insertion point keeps vanishing, leaving me typing nothing until I notice. Seriously, people, WTF?
It does seem, so far, anyway, that Word 2007 is capable of learning – it eventually stopped disappearing the insertion point, for example – so maybe there’s hope for it yet. One thing I really love, though, is its contextual spelling checks. I have a problem – linked to my ME I’m pretty sure – of typing entirely random words on occasion. Normally, I have to read stuff assiduously to correct crap like that, but contextual spelling checks flag most such errors, making life just that little bit more pleasant! It also snags our old friend the aberrant apostrophe that so often finds its way into the possessive “its”.
It did have an initial problem inserting a dot in every space. Just a formatting mark, it didn’t print, but I looked in vain for a section called Format or something similar, so I could turn it off. Then, having exhausted every logical possibility, I looked in the section called Display – to find it full of formatting stuff, with the space dot enabled by default, for reasons that elude me, as does the mind-set of some Redwood numpty who thinks Display is synonymous with Format!
As for the troublesome ellipsis, Word 2007 has now changed its mind and accepted that it’s valid punctuation – nothing I’ve done.
I’ve used several versions of Office over the years – 2000, XP, and 2003 – and the latter was by far the best, and most intuitive. As far as I can see, 2007 has reverted to the unintuitive clunkiness of earlier versions (the introduction to Outlook is straight from the Office 2000 playbook, offering various options instead of email – you can’t have them as well as email). And there should NOT be a learning curve as steep as the sodding Matterhorn, just to type a simple document! Though, to be fair, now I’m past that, I think I’ll get on with Word, especially as I now know where most of the functions I need are hidden. Not all of them, by any means, but it’s only been a couple of hours, and I’m getting there.
However, I’ve had to make a formatted document which I’ve saved, containing all the settings I favour, as when I open Word I’m presented with a virgin page that I have to format all over again, which is so bloody stupid, and didn’t happen in Word 2003!
So, in conclusion, unlike Word 2007, I shall be very surprised if I ever get to like Win 7. In some respects it’s positively simple-minded, in others needlessly baffling** – though not as obscure as the Basic version on my Netbook! But why MS thought it necessary to cryptically rename functions – and it’s far worse in Basic – when long-term users, like me have their old names carved in stone in our memories, is beyond me. It’s OK for PC virgins, they don’t know any better. But I do, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to piss me off for a very long time!
**Just remembered I have a copy of Win 7 For Dummies!
One good point, though – it seems to be capable of learning that what I ask it to do really is what I want it to do. And when I say pin this app to the Task Bar, I don’t bloody well mean until I turn you off – I mean til hell freezes!
So I can tolerate it, but like it? Nope – never gonna happen.