Why I Hate Buying Computers

So I went out with my Brother-In-Law Sunday to get him a new laptop. His requirements aren’t all that high, basically surfing and checking email, so we picked up a half decent deal at Future Shop, a little HP dual core system.

When I started setting it up for him I remembered why I hate buying computers that I don’t put together myself. I took literally 4 hours or more Sunday afternoon to do all the needed tasks:

  • Apply all the upddates, reboot, apply more updates, reboot, repeat
  • Remove the gobs of third party software
  • Install some reasonable software to use for other tasks (an office suite, iTunes (which he’s more used to than WMP), DivX codec, etc)

The gobs of software I really hate. I understand that HP (and others) are going to install their own stuff. IE: You pop in a DVD and te HP easy-play (or something like that) pops up. Put in a DVD to burn and some other third party app is used. I can understand that, sometimes Windows doesn’t come with great default bits of software, so you brand it as your own. What does piss me off is the lack of user-friendlyness with the third-party installs.

It’s not like you are just using a crippled / lame version of some software, but half the software seemed to pop up nag screens the second it starts. For example, the system came with MS Office home/student/trial or something like that. That’s fine, but as soon as Word opens it pops up a screen asking for a serial number. Nothing more, just a text field and an OK button. If there was a ‘not now’, or ‘continue trial’ or something lik that I’d be OK with it, but basically you hit OK, it tells you that’s an invalid serial number, you hit OK again and thn it gives you the option to re-enter or cancel.

Now I’m not sure about you, but if my grandmother were to open that up she’d pack the thing up and send it back. I’m not trying to rag on MS here, the Office was just one example, don’t get me started on the video on demand player that’s started by default and what’s involved getting rid of that.

I’m all OK with companies making their hardware cheaper by putting third party apps on there, and with third party apps trying to overtake the big boys by making their apps the defaults for new users, but geez, you have to make it so the experience doesn’t piss off the user so much!

All the more reason to download drives from the net, use an OEM disk to do the install (as the vendor solution these day is to not give any disks, but give a ‘restore partition’ instead, which installs all the same crap you want to get rid of) and then doing the install from scratch. I find the default set of apps in windows perfectly adequate as far as not pissing me of, and you just need to do the ‘install my own preferred applications’ part of the setup.

Speaking of being pissed off…. ugh, Vista on a laptop. Like I said I spent the afternoon and evening setting things up, loading it up with stuff. In that time the wireless worked fine. When I had first started up the computer it found my network, asked me for my passphrase, and happily did exactly as expected through restarts, reboots, and software install/uninstall. Exactly what I wanted.

However, this evening I got home and Firefly has the laptop up and it’s got firefox and a ‘server not found’ page. Not only did a reboot of the laptop, a reboot of the router and many, many network repairs (and the various other ways that Vista has of fixing things) not work, but it seemed to suddenly require me to disable the wireless (via the hardware switch) and then re-enable and repair it before it’d get onto my network again. It then required it again after putting the thing to sleep by closing the lid. Gah. Anyone else have odd intermittent problems like that?

‘Nuff bitching, Batman Begins is on 🙂