The Agonies Of The Upgrade

Most people that know me also know that I am not a fan of Microsoft. There was a time that I was very enthusiastic about Microsoft products, but that has changed over time with changes in the products Microsoft offers.

But most of the world has standardized on Microsoft. Since Windows XP is sunsetting, many small businesses are upgrading their computer systems. Those that aren’t doing so now will be doing so soon, since unpatched XP won’t be getting any faster, and XP is snail slow now.

I do a lot of planning and preparation to make sure that network refreshes go as smoothly as possible. I also try to set things up so that no maintenance will be required for an extra special long time. I try.

In a small office using XP on most desktops, and a workgroup type network, I tried to minimize the immersion shock of new hardware and operating systems. I supplied business class desktop units with quad core i5 processors running Windows 7. We were able to use the settings and file transfer utility over the network to smoothly transfer important files and settings, and that went smoothly.

The Productivity Suite – The Agonies Begin

There were copies of Microsoft Office 2003, and we could have kept those, or we could have installed either of the FOSS alternatives – Open Office or Libre Office, as an alternative. I thought it would be easier for everybody, and better in the long run, if I installed Office 2013. I was wrong about that. One of those alternatives would have been better.

Microsoft Office no longer ships with install media – a CD or DVD. You get a box with a card and a license key printed on it. There is no indication on the box that this is a download install. For $200, you would expect they could supply a CD! For those not blessed with a fast Internet connection, those with satellite connections and metered data transfers, this will be a problem.

But wait, it gets worse!

Now you need a Windows Live account. After having to key in a license key as long as a 19th century Russian novel (admitted hyperbole there), you can’t go any further unless you have a Microsoft Windows Live account. There is no way around it.

This is a stupid requirement. I’m a contractor. I’m installing this on behalf of the client. I am doing so when the office is closed so as not to disturb business. I don’t want to, nor should I, register this software on my personal account. It should be registered with an email address belonging to this business.

So I use an email address belonging to the business to create the account. What do you know. Microsoft has sent a message to the email to verify that it is a real account. Just to install software that is already paid for!!!

Hunt around for the password to the email account. Log on. Verify. Move on.

Next screen – hopefully we start installing now. NOT!!! Now it want’s user details. First Name. Ok. Last Name. Ok. Gender. Ok. Date of Birth.

How the frog am I suppose to know that. Screw it. None of their business anyway. I’ll just put in the first options in the drop down. January 1 2014. Obviously bullcrap but it took it. Next

Halt! Big warning message. You are underage and cannot create this account without parent approval. Get a parent to sign on and give permission.


Now I’m fuming!!!

I would have been done installing Open Office by now. What a phenomenal waste of my time. Microsoft execs should have to forfeit time off their life for all the time they force their customers to waste with their nonsense!

I close it all out and try it again. key in the license. Try to create the Windows Live account with the same email address. Guess what! It won’t accept that any more because it is already a registered user in the system. WTF!!!

Did I mention I was already fuming mad?!?!

So I try the other option. Sign in with an existing account – using that one that that I just created, but needs parental approval. It goest to a screen where I, ostensibly the parent, have to sign in. That works and then the next screen informs me that …

Wait for it …

To verify that I am an adult, that I must supply a credit card account that will be charged 50 cents.


No fucking way! Screw You! Not one cent more for your crap software!

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again

So I close it down and try again. A little wiser this time.
I create a new Windows Live account with a different email address.
And I use a birth date consistent with the age of majority.
Verify the email account.

It should all go smoothly from here, right?


Next you have to choose two things, country and language. Both fields are drop down menus. The country one works ok. Guess what. Nothing to select on the language drop down. And without that selection made, the next button is disabled.


So I call Microsoft support. There is a number for it on the paltry documentation included with the card. Fortunately the guy on the other end was polite, calm, and helpful, because I wanted to reach through the phone and strangle somebody!

To fix this problem, the guy had to initiate a remote session. And then we just repeated the steps I already went through. This time it worked and the install began and completed.

Smooth Sailing From Here – Almost

Two more machines got Microsoft Office 2013 installed. Those went smoothly using the newly created Windows Live account. No hangups or glitches during the install.

The next business day, however, one of the installs decided that it wasn’t registered. Damn it, we just did a network install. Wasn’t this already taken care of?!

The process requires that you call Microsoft, read 10 fields of 8 characters, and then key in 10 fields of 8 characters. It is handled by an automated voice recognition system.

And it works like crap. Especially in a busy office with background noise. The system misinterprets background noise, and I got disconnected and rerouted several times. Until it put me in touch with a live operator that wanted me to recite that special code as long as a small town phone book (another liberty with hyperbole). I again had that urge to reach through the phone.

Well eventually we got through this ordeal and the user could use Office. She had never seen the ribbon before – that horrible user interface that Microsoft foisted upon everyone with the upgrade, in the misguided belief that screens with already reduced vertical height would benefit from a huge graphical menu and complete reorganization (and elimination of keyboard shortcuts). Thank you Microsoft for your infallible wisdom.

Is That All? Nope! Not Yet!

This office uses a workgroup network. With this upgrade, we are moving the shared drive from one of the desktop machines to a NAS with RAID 1. We used a QNAP that is pretty damn good, by the way. Easy to set up groups, users, and network shares. A lot of neat features included, but our main need was for a safe storage system with RAID.

All is well and good with that except that Window 7 won’t display the NAS network drive in Network Explorer. I understand that it is visible with XP machines. But not with Vista or Windows 7. It appears that a device needs a proprietary protocol LLTD (Link Layer Topology Discovery). So again, Microsoft just refuses to play nice!

Now it is possible to map network drives that are not visible in Network Explorer. You have to key in the IP address and path when mapping the drive. Not too hard, but definitely an inconvenience.

And Finally

So now a new version of Outlook (Lookout!) is installed on these machines. It’s got a completely different icon. So the users open the old version of Outlook, which hasn’t been unistalled, and doesn’t work. Ok. Create new shortcuts and uninstall old Outlook. Just the kind of slopiness you would expect from the world’s biggest monopoly.

So the boss opens up Outlook. That’s an important thing in a small business. Guess what! There’s a brand new clean design. Must have been the same designers as Windows 8. Nice light blue header, great wide expanse of blinding white, and light gray text.

Did anybody do a usability study with anyone other than a 20 year old. Middle age people were obviously overlooked! The fix for this is to use one of the other two themes that are installed with Outlook. One is a slightly darker gray on the same white field. The other is that slightly darker gray on a light gray background that replaces the blinding white. Neither choice is really ideal.

A look at the Microsoft web site and there are no other themes available for Outlook form Microsoft. Just got to get used to it. You don’t like it, tough. We are Microsoft and we just don’t give a shit. You will assimilate.

So What Now

I’ve done the best I could to see that they were set up as good as it gets for a small office with a Microsoft network. I wish I could have changed them over to Linux, but they relied on at least one application that is Windows dependant. Hopefully they will be able to run smoothly for a while before some virus gets past the AV software and screws up a machine. Hopefully Microsoft updates don’t suck the life out of the quad core i5 processors and make office productivity fall off.

I run Ubuntu Linux myself. The install is easier. It’s one install, not several. No hassling with license keys, nor drivers either. It takes minutes to do what it takes hours to do with Windows. And afterward, productivity is way better. No nagging popups all the time. It doesn’t slow down with time (get Winrot). It doesn’t suddenly get amnesia and need to be reconfigured. It doesn’t get virii.

You know why computer techs don’t recommend Linux? Straight from there mouths I’ve heard this – because they wouldn’t make any money off it.

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