Hey, @Microsoft: Where Do I Send The Bill?

Windows 10 finally rendered my laptop unusable, except maybe as a doorstop.

Just switching from Windows 7 to 10 was a big mistake. At the time, Microsoft kept pushing me to switch to Win10 (“All your Hardware and Software is compatible! Go on, do it while it’s free!”) to the point where I basically did it just to stop the incessant messages.

As it turned out after the fact, not all my hardware and software was compatible. The touch pad stopped working, but that was a minor thing because I don’t use it much. And a new driver did come along after a while, and it started working again. The big thing was the DVD drive, which disappeared from the device list and never came back; it’s an older unit and it turned out that Sony has no intention of ever releasing a Win10 driver for it, so that’s that.

On the software front, my video editing software doesn’t run any more; neither does PaintShop Pro. I fiddled with compatibility settings, did a little googling for solutions, but nothing worked. I ended up downloading Paint.net for image editing, so at least I can do my picture work, but video editing is a lost cause.

Compatible? Really, Microsoft?


The latest (“Creators”) update was the last straw. The machine just couldn’t cope with it any more. Chrome has stopped working; it fires up and opens tabs but after a few seconds it freezes and stops responding to clicks. Reinstalling makes no difference.

Now the machine won’t shut down or restart cleanly – it sits at the spinner and eventually the only thing to do is hold the power button until it switches off. I hate to think what that does to the file system. I left it overnight one time, to see if it ever finished, but it was still sitting at the “Shutting Down” spinner eight hours later.

The thing is, the machine is my workhorse. It’s what I use for most of my writing and all of my editing, because it’s where I have Word installed. I need Chrome because I use Google Drive to back up my files and share work with my editor. Without Chrome, I can’t do much. And since the machine is now so compromised, I can’t trust it not to corrupt my Word documents – so I haven’t done any writing work since the “update”.

In the end I decided I had no other option but to buy a new machine and retire the old one. It took a while to install all the software I use on a regular basis, and several hours to move all my documents and stuff from the old machine, but it’s all done now.

But here’s the point: I wouldn’t have had to spend all the time and money if it hadn’t been for Windows 10, and Microsoft’s “alternative facts” about compatibility.

So, Microsoft, I’m out of pocket and it’s all because of you. Thanks for that. Where do I send the bill?

The Windows 10 Experience, Redux


NOW that I’ve had a few weeks to play with it, here’s a short update on some things I’ve found with Windows 10.

What’s Good

IN general, I haven’t found any problems with any of the applications I use frequently. Microsoft Word, Scrivener, PaintShop Pro, and so on, all work just fine. Google Chrome’s been having a few problems but I think those are bugs in Chrome itself and not related to the OS.

What’s Bad

I’M continuing to have problems related to device drivers and antivirus:

  • The touch pad driver no longer has the setting to disable the pad when a USB mouse is plugged in, which is annoying and inconvenient. Hoping for a driver update that’ll fix that, but so far nothing.
  • There’s a problem with the screen driver that causes an error message to pop up when I switch from mains to battery power. Again, hoping for an update that’ll fix that.
  • Despite the report that told me all the laptop hardware is compatible, it turns out that the driver for the CD/DVD drive is out of date, and because it’s an older device Sony aren’t likely to release an updated driver for Win10. Which means the drive is unusable. I might be able to fix that if I can find a newer drive that will fit. This is particularly annoying, since Microsoft said it would work.
  • Certain commonly-used antivirus programs cause problems that stop Windows Update working (it sticks at 0% when “preparing to install updates”). I googled the details and found dozens of “fixes”, all different, all suspect. I the end I called Microsoft’s Denver office and talked to tech support, and they were able to help. They advised running SFC with the /scannow option; it didn’t report any errors, but after a reboot the update worked. So at least if it happens again I know what to try first.

The Windows 10 Experience



I wasn’t planning on upgrading to Windows 10 any time soon. Microsoft had other ideas. A new icon kept showing in the system tray saying Get Windows 10! It’ll be Fun! and there was no way to get rid of it. My laptop and desktop machines downloaded the installation files on the quiet; I only found out about it when I noticed the hard drive light blinking away all the time, and I opened up the resource manager to see what was going on. Then I had a window pop up telling me that my computer and all my software was compatible with Windows 10, and please Please PLEASE install Windows 10, and if you don’t do it while it’s free we’ll charge you $119 for it and send someone to your house to duct-tape you to a chair and force you to watch while they install it for you. Well, I might have dreamt about that last bit.

To be honest I was a little concerned about doing something so potentially dangerous to my laptop; I use it far more than my desktop system, and it’s where I do all my writing so the data is sacred. And it’s a few years old, so I was a little bit edgy. But… well, they did say it was all compatible. And all my files are backed up in the cloud (Google Is Your Friend).

So yesterday I caved in to the pressure, said Sod It to myself, and clicked the button that said Oh, All Right Then, If It’ll Shut You The Fuck Up.

What Happened Next

I got a screen that said the machine would reboot a few times, and at least had the decency to tell me what was happening and how far it had got, so I could see it was actually doing things. It took an hour or so, I think. Then it went through a few startup screens asking whether I wanted to switch some default applications for playing videos and such to the new ones that come with Win10 (I didn’t; I like the ones I use. I’ll look at the new ones later and decide).

Finally, up came my familiar desktop (the one with the pictures of European castles), but with some new stuff on the taskbar and in the system tray.

THEN MY ANTIVIRUS BLEW UP. Well, it didn’t exactly explode. But it wasn’t working, that was for sure.

A little bit of investigation showed that, yes, the antivirus IS compatible with Win10, but I should have read the vendor’s website before I updated, idiot. Turns out I should have uninstalled the AV before the update, then re-installed after. Trying to uninstall after the fact doesn’t work; the ghost of the AV haunts the system, attempting to start up when you reboot.

I fixed it in the end; the AV vendor has an uninstall program to solve the problem. Download it, reboot into Safe Mode, bring up an admin command line, run the program thereby deleting all the old AV files, reboot to normal mode. Then re-install the AV and all is well. (Well, not immediately; the AV does a “first scan” that rips through the entire hard drive, deep-scanning. Takes a couple of hours during which system performance is crippled. I just left it alone until it was done.)

Everything else I use daily seemed to be working ok. Word fired up and immediately popped up a pop-up saying it was updating (I guess there’s a Win10 upgrade, but it was automatic and took less than a minute). Scrivener came up just fine. Google Chrome looked ok at first… then I noticed the links to Gmail, Google Apps, and so on, on the New Tab page, weren’t showing any more. That’s been reported to Google in case that’s something to do with the Win10 upgrade. As it happens, Chrome just downloaded an update; maybe that’ll fix it. I’ll know soon enough. [Update: Chrome bug, nothing to do with Win10. They fixed it last night.]

After All Is Said And Done

IS it better than Windows 7? Too early to tell. I can say right away that I don’t much like that Metro style that makes the windows look like a Windows phone or tablet. And I don’t like that I can’t disable the touchpad when the USB mouse is plugged in (Windows 7 had an option for that, although it looks like the problem might be more to do with the touchpad driver and not actually a Windows problem. All the same, if they don’t fix it soon I’ll have to disable the touchpad altogether. I keep catching the damned thing with my thumbs while I’m typing, and it’s a pain in the arse). I haven’t tried Microsoft Edge properly yet, although the couple of pages I’ve tested so far haven’t loaded and rendered particularly quickly (not that it matters, really—I use Chrome for pretty much everything and that’s not likely to change any time soon). But it does, at first sight, look like an improvement on Internet Explorer; maybe we can put that piece of old junk in the ground at last.

If there is ONE feature that looks like a real winner, it’s the Task View. Using that you can create multiple desktops. For me that’ll make it possible to keep writing apps (Word and Scrivener) on a dedicated desktop separate from everything else. It could still use a little work, I think; something up in the corner of the screen, maybe, showing which desktop you’re on and letting you click to switch to another one quickly. (Although, I did find a page with some handy keyboard shortcuts that speed things along.)

But in the big scheme of things, the upgrade was relatively painless and I’ll almost certainly upgrade my desktop system before too long. If I have one bit of advice for you, gentle reader, it would be this: check the vendor websites for all your third-party software and see what they have to say about how their junk plays with Win10. Maybe some won’t work, maybe some will need to be re-installed. My experience with the antivirus I use could have been avoided if I’d checked first.

Until next time . . .