Windows, Windows, Windows, Blech

I’ve been a fulltime Mac user for seven months now. How quickly we forget. I’ve spent most of today wrangling with a Windows machine, a replacement for a 7 year old server that runs one half of the Vacancy Information Service.

Now I’m not trying to do anything unusual here, not trying to make the computer speak Thai, or interface with a nuclear reactor. I just want to install Windows NT, update NT with various security patches to bring it up to date, and install a couple of applications.


First, Windows NT Workstation comes with Internet Explorer version 2, perhaps least least compatible web browser ever made. You would think that Microsoft itself would endeavour to tender at least some offer of backwards compatibility to allow people still saddled with this browser to upgrade. But no. Try visiting the Windows or Internet Explorer pages with Explorer Version 2, and you get a morass of HTML and JavaScript verbiage thrown at you, with no clear method to download an upgrade.

Logical next step was to use Internet Explorer to download Mozilla. This went fine, but post-installation Mozilla refused to run, throwing a clasically cryptic Windows error message that meant absolutely nothing.

Same thing happened with Mozilla Firebird.

I suspect that the problem were simply a result of out of date operating system components. Which I could download using Windows Update. Which I could use if I had a more modern version of Internet Explorer.

I won’t bore you all with the rest of the day’s activities. Suffice to say that it pretty much continued like this. Punctuated by the usual “the software you have installed requires that you reboot your computer.” I think I’ve rebooted about 26 times now.

Still at it…

Tomorrow, luck holding, this machine goes into operation and I go back to my Mac.


Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on August 1, 2003 - 01:35 Permalink

I’ve never been one to get into OS debates — and I certainly wouldn’t defend Windows NT. However, I think it’s worth noting that later releases of Windows (2000, XP, 2003) are dramatically better and more mature than Windows NT. When NT was released, seven years ago, Mac OS was in version 7.

Jevon's picture
Jevon on August 1, 2003 - 14:49 Permalink

I’m with Steve. NT 4 is really no reflection of 2000, XP or 2003 and shouldn’t be used to compare to OSX. They just aren’t in the same league.

I have used them all, and wouldn’t consider NT4 as an option. 2000 Server running Apache 2 is, however, a good OS for webserving.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on August 1, 2003 - 17:54 Permalink

This really wasn’t meant as a “Mac is better than Windows” or even a “Windows is crappy” rant, although it obviously came out that way. That all said, whether Windows has gotten better or not is, in some ways immaterial: I can’t conscience validating a company that would knowingly foist such techno-crap upon the world, especially when there are alternatives. I can’t for the life of me imagine why anyone would ever consider using Windows as a webserver, even with Apache, when Linux or BSD are better, faster, cheaper, open alternatives. Oops, I ranted again.

art's picture
art on August 4, 2003 - 18:16 Permalink

Amen, whatever the advantages of the windows desktop, apache levels the competition when it comes to identifying webserver platforms. The combination that makes me crazy is internet explorer (IE) on the macintosh, microsoft is dropping standalone versions of IE so its days are numbered, but IE shipped with a lot of powerbooks and we seem to be hitting our heads on it for all sorts of things at our university. Plus, I find it very disturbing that IE is going to be so blatantly tied to the operating system. Is this is the future of the universal client that everyone was so excited about a decade ago when the web was born?

Kevin's picture
Kevin on August 10, 2003 - 23:22 Permalink

What Mac has done to UNIX is hard to take… I hope this is just growing (or shrinking) pains, but the rig-a-ma-row I have to go through to do ordinary windows or unix type things is not a lot of fun.

Ultimately, I think, Mac’s insistence that one button will do, and that “you really don’t need a keyboard short cut for [insert fairly ordinary function here]”, has left it unnecessarily out of the picture for most people who’ve cut their teeth on non-mac systems.

And too bad too. I think all the things I’d like to see could be included without changing any mac-like functions for the ‘legacy user’. frustrates in both directions.