Quick Install?

29 Nov

Hating on Microsoft is like shooting fish in a barrel: it is a waste of time and it puts bullet holes in perfectly good barrels. Nevertheless, having recently decided to upgrade our creaking and toothless MS Office 2000 with its shiny great-grandchild, I was reminded again of what fruitful grumping territory Microsoft is for us serial grumps. And there’s nothing quite like freshly shot fish.

Step 1: Do Overdue Email Archiving
I can only hope that Office 2010 has improved upon the archiving performance of Outlook. Nothing shows up the extreme decreptitude of Office 2000 like trying to archive 4000 emails. I began the process at about 15h30. If I’d known how the rest of my day would pan out, I would have made more productive use of these hours of processing time, but as it was, I took the rest of the afternoon off, and left the computer to do its geriatric-paced work on its own. It took about 3 hours, I’d guess. I’d had to go out to a dinner before it was done.

Step 2: Uninstall Office 2000
It makes sense to uninstall the old before installing the new, right? Sure, as long as you’re sure that the new kid can do the job. I thought of this too late, and so with a working day looming, my wife’s work tools were all neatly erased by 23h45. I was committed. Surely there was no risk? How long could a mere software install take?

System_ReqStep 3: Realise To What Degree You Fail To Meet The System Requirements
My fault entirely. It clearly says ‘Windows XP with Service Pack 3’ in 1-point type on the side of the box. I have Service Pack 2, so it was time to further over-extend the data limit and get on the Internet.

Step 4: Trust What Microsoft Says Is Best For You
Downloading Service Pack 3 may be done in one of two ways: You can turn on ‘Automatic Updates’ – something I typically avoid doing – or you can download a stand-alone 315mb file and do it all in one blitzkrieg of an install. However, Microsoft says that the standalone file is ‘For Network Managers and IT Professionals’ or something similarly not me. Every time I’ve transgressed into the world of IT geeks, I’ve got stuck in tarballs like some long-extinct plodding lizard. In any event, the ‘Automatic Updates’ route had ‘Recommended’ emblazoned on it, and came with assurances that only ‘essential’ files would be downloaded in preparation for the Service Pack itself, and that it would take only a half-hour or so with my kind of connection.

‘I could wait around for that’, I thought, and so I went the ‘safe’ route. By around ten to one in the morning, Windows was still very unnecessarily installing the newest version of Internet Explorer, which I do not use, including a desperately long and  extremely redundant malware check of my entire computer, which is very capably handled by my antivirus package. With 40-something updates still in the queue once IE8 had satisfied itself that it was safe to proceed, I decided that I’d better take a nap. I was up again at 2am.

I awoke and returned to bed once or twice more – my memory of the small hours is predictably hazy – but by 8 in the morning, after a few hours of sleep, Service Pack 3 (and countless other pointless updates, including the installation of MS Messenger that I now can’t seem to get rid of) was securely installed on our home PC.

Incidentally, learning from my error, I went the ‘IT professionals’ route when installing Service Pack 3 on my laptop at work. I arrived at work at 10am and it was all done by 10h45. Never believe Microsoft.

Step 5: Install Office 2010
Microsoft has always been good at whittling processes down to one click. What they seem to be especially bad at is figuring out where there should really be the opportunity for a second click.

I selected the products that I wanted, and off it went, installing its little heart out. Unfortunately, sometime after the progress bar (see below) had hit halfway, I received notification that the file aeofg895rgh.watzit was not available, and that the installation could not be completed. The only solution to the problem was for Office to do the clever trick of ‘rolling back’ whatever serious changes it had made, abandoning the installation, and recommending that I restart my computer before the detritus in my RAM instigated war between North and South Korea.

I found this absolutely astounding. Not war between the Koreas – that’s been coming for a while – the fact that a manufacturer with sufficient awareness of the potential for Internet dissemination of information to have just forced me to download millions of pieces of unsolicited software, that such a company would not provide a means of recovering a lost file from an Internet archive. It’s like taking a broken car to the car-parts factory and finding that they’d decided not to hire mechanics or build a door. It’s like Microsoft has suddenly forgotten that there is an Internet.

Fortunately, I was subsequently able to complete the installation by just selecting the basics (making my purchase of all those extra features available in the ‘Professional Edition’ somewhat wasteful).

Funnily enough, I had a similar error after just downloading Service Pack 3 (when I did it the IT Professional’s route) with a file called ‘atapi.sys’ or something. This time, there was another solution provided: ‘Would you like to continue the installation without this system file and hope that everything works anyway?’ Microsoft should really consider hiring some of those IT professionals to help them.

Step 6: Re-Install Archived Email Files
After all my griping about the installation process, Office 2010 itself does seem to be very good, admittedly after only an hour or two of playing around with it. What they have not yet been able to do is to establish any kind of connection between progress bars or time estimates and real life. They might as well replace progress bars with a friendly cartoon rabbit who can periodically look just off screen (at the behind-the-scenes installation) and give a thumbs-up, or some other reassurance that things are still underway.

While I was restoring old emails from archive, the progress bar stalls, crawls, then leaps forward for no discernible reason, and then when if finally reaches the end, it just starts again. ‘I’ve finished!’ it seemed to say. ‘Oh no wait, that was actually just a personal goal of mine. Still busy.’

As for time references, at one point, a particular process began with a projected duration of 60 minutes, and ended up taking about 60 seconds. Not even the weather man gets it that wrong.

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