Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Microsoft: A Rose by any Other Name


Ah, yes.  What would modern life be without Microsoft and its wonderful products?  Nothing says innovation, or smooth transition, or well-conceived features like the software behemoth of suburban Seattle.

Well, not quite.

Stories of glitch-filled "upgrades" are by now legend.  In my opinion, the "Windows" operating platform probably reached its peak 15 years or so ago with Win NT.  It was somewhat Spartan, with limited time-saving "short-cuts" or cute, useless features such as an animated dog to help you find topics.

But it was relatively bug-free and, for its time, fast.  By contrast, MS Word had its high-water mark round about 1989.

I'm convinced that with each release, Microsoft's products become a little bit worse in every way.  Features we liked are removed.  Options that we could fine-tune are now gone, replaced by "Wizards" that don't quite do what we really need.  Menu-driven actions are replaced with impenetrable icons that one must be an Egyptologist to reckon out.

Yesterday, my company more or less pushed me to "upgrade" my office computer to Windows 2010 (I know; it's three-years obsolescent technology if labelling is to be believed.)  I had resisted previous changes, but this time, the warning was somewhat stern.

So, I held my nose, clicked all the various "I read and acknowledge" ass-covering tick boxes, and followed the instructions.

Guess what happened next?

The GUI is, as predicted, unrecognisable, and of course, terrible.  MS, God bless them, wiped several programmes I like (Google Chrome - gone and replaced by the hideous "Internet Explorer.")  It's fairly easy to undo this dubious mischief.

But then, this AM, I opened my Outlook mail, and.... my entire archive of read mail...gone.  Approximately five years of correspondences, idiotically erased.  A bit of research quickly detected the cause.  When migrating read mail from the server to my local computer (a necessary task, as server space is restricted), the mails (and attachments) are placed into a .PST file for storage.

The geniuses at Microsoft - for no apparent reason - have with the newer release changed the hierarchy.  Previously, the user .PST file was stored in the C:\Documents and Settings\USERID folder.

With the new release, this critical file is now placed in a folder called C:\Users\USERID\App Data folder.

The critical problem is the root directory - one is C:\Documents and Settings, and one is C:\Users.

When the new version of Windows installed itself, it simply removed the prior structure root and branch.  Thus, all user-specified data for Outlook is gone.  Sig file.  Mail archive.  Contacts.

Gone.

For no reason whatsoever.

Brilliant.

I now face the task of trying to recover from this criminal stupidity.

Thanks, guys.


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