Ten years later, look what’s changed!

Microsoft screwed up, and they know it. The last version of Windows was a turkey stuffed with some pretty dumb features. I’ve spent some time with the latest version of Windows, though, and it looks like it could be a winner.

You thought I was talking about Vista and Windows 7? Nope, this is a look at ten years of system optimization at PC Pitstop, and I started at the beginning. The decade opened with a Microsoft disaster called Windows Me, followed by a decade-long success called Windows XP that still rules today. But it just goes to show a big company like Microsoft doesn’t always learn from its mistakes.

Each time a new version of Windows comes out, people ask me whether PC Pitstop will run out of ideas for tweaking and tuning PCs. The short answer is “no”, because Microsoft always manages to find something they don’t get quite right. Windows Me and Vista are extreme examples of that, but even Windows 7 has its weaknesses. And when Microsoft makes even a little mistake, it often doesn’t get fixed until the next version — which won’t come out for several more years. The only thing you’ll get from Microsoft in the meantime is patches for serious security problems.

Even with those system patches, they didn’t get it quite right. Just about every month, Microsoft sends out a slug of patches and fixes via Windows Update. Just in case something goes wrong, they save all the information they’d need to uninstall each patch. The problem is, they never remove the uninstall information. If your computer is three years old, these remnants of patches you installed three years ago are still taking up space on your drive. I’ve seen older XP systems with more than a gigabyte of this junk on them. Didn’t anyone at Microsoft think about deleting these files? Even more incredibly, this still seems to be broken with Windows 7.

It reminds me of my first job in software development right out of college; computers weren’t all that common at the time. One of my co-workers related the story of how she got her job there; she contacted the personnel department and told them she was a computer programmer; they told her, “Sorry, all our computers have already been programmed.” Fortunately she got the phone number of the head of the IT department, who confirmed that their computers did still need a little more programming.

And so it is with Windows; even after ten years of so much change, so much remains the same. Windows still needs a wee bit more programming. That’s where we can help.

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12 thoughts on “Ten years later, look what’s changed!”

  1. Jerry Bernardy

    Hi Elaine,
    I have had the same question regarding patches. One technical problem experience with an Adobe Reader issue says that, at least for them, all patches must be kept. The tech department told me to go to an old patch and click on repair. This fixed the issue. So I would say, to be safe, keep all your old patches.

  2. Think about a world without bugs, a lot of birds wouldn’t have a meal. I see the whole computer as an evolution. The things that don’t work get obsolete and extingt the better things evolve.
    And we… we have a hobby that gives us a decent meal an a great job.

  3. I have always wondered if it is necessary to keep all the patches that I have downloaded, or could I delete the old ones, believing that the latest ones would fix everything up to date??????

    Someone please reply.


  4. Bought my first computer for $100.00 and promptly “crashed” it. Had someone who was supposed to know what they were doing come to fix it and they couldn’t. 30 minutes after they left, I had it up and running – perfectly. Been messin’ with them ever since and have gotten pretty good. Think I’ll stick with Microsoft a little while longer as I’m used to and partial to them. Prices ARE better than the Apple too.

  5. I’ve been kicking around computers since leaving university in the late 70’s … The best home computer was Commodore …. remember the 64/128 … well being the best means nothing if you don’t market it properly.
    Microsoft did the proper marketing
    made it the cheapest by far [like vhs over beta in the same time frame] and Apple and Commodore took a back seat. The idea of windows actually came from Commodore but still they died.
    Apple would have died too if MS didn’t buy in for 25% to keep them afloat.

    I do find it odd though that we would accept software with bugs and flaws and pay huge for it but won’t do that with a toaster [not meaning Commodore’s toaster which is a video editing program]
    Commodore was the industry standard for video editing just as dv. was comming in. [it didn’t help them much]
    industry standards do change.
    cost seems to be the most important thing to consumers and that is where MS wins hands down.

    If the Apple cart wants to do better they need to do better with their pricing.

  6. Edward Llewellyn Bridge

    Microsoft have been building operating systems for almost 30 years. That they still leave space for other companies to offer improvements is breathtaking. I guess they exist to make money than to write good software.

  7. The problem with Mac’s is not the OS, but the price. For the same price a 17″ Macbook Pro, one could buy something like 3 comparable PC Laptops, with Windows XP Pro/Windows 7 etc.

    In a recession, a company should be concerned with obtaining new business to strengthen their bottom line (especially when the recession is over with), rather than charging insane prices to retain a narrow market share of hardcore enthusiasts.

    I use both Windows and Linux at home (and both need tweaking still). Linux does out perform Windows in many areas, but a Windows PC is ‘WAY’ more affordable than a Mac. Furthermore, Mac is so darned Proprietary that is simply p*sses me off to even consider owning one! I would love to try out a Mac for a few months, and use it exclusively so to ensure I gave it the same fair chance I had with Windows the first time I used it. Also, how many of us out there really care if a laptop has an Aircraft or other Aluminum Alloy Uni Body? I don’t, I want to use the computing power of a laptop, not stop a bullet with it.

    Just my rant,
    Retired IT Professional

  8. I have been tempted to follow a minority of friends and colleagues to make my next notebook (every three years for me, lots of international travelling, too much actually) an Apple.

    But you know what puts me off? The sheer arrogance of many Apple users. Maybe I’m an inverse snob, as my late Dad used to say, but I steer clear of the iPhone, IPod as well etc, perhaps due to my bloody mindedness, who knows, who cares?

    In sport they say form is temporary, class is permanent. So why isn’t Apple’s share of market as good as its alleged technical advantage.

    I need to stay with MS because in the developing world where I do most of my work, MS rules, as does software piracy and rampant viruses.

  9. I remember when we worked with Rainbow, MSDos and then wind. 3.0 then 3.1 and so on. It was what we had and people did not relate good to apple, because most education programs were dos. I am still glad you were there for those of use who did not know what to do at times.
    Again thenk you.

  10. So ” The Microsoft OS that we use is still the industry standard, and the paradigm by which everyone holds all others to comparison”
    Some of us have left the fold/party line/ crowd and have found a better standard: MacIntosh.
    Microsoft OS is only an industry standard because the average PC user follows the crowd and tolerates the inferior product which is “so much better than the last version of Windows”.
    The MAC OS is a superior OS in many aspects but falls short in market penetration.
    Microsft users experience a progressively slower computer performance which requires more hardware purchase or tweaking to improve. Did i mention virus software and security patches? The reason why PC Pitstop is still in business is because of the inferior product so many people buy.
    I wish you sympathy

  11. Sure, there are and have been issues with the different Microsoft OS’s; some more than others. Some versions far better than others. And we are thankful for the help in tweeking this very complex software. However. Say what you will. The Microsoft OS that we use is still the industry standard, and the paradigm by which everyone holds all others to comparison. Even PC PitStop does this with it’s own software. Hard to top that.

  12. I suggest you people write your own perfect,without fault,totally complete,no further improvements necessary or even possible-which would be more constructive than your criticism at every opportunity.I recently used PC Magic,it did not perform well on Win 7,64,especially defrag SSDs,for which WIN has a TRIM package.After trying it I talked to a tech and it was not very long before he cut down MS. Are they trained that Way or is it just a natural high mindedness?In any case it does not speak well.Regards.DF

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