The A is for Annoyance.

I can see that Microsofts new tool to help improve customer satisfaction and increase machine performance is rapidly going to become the bane of every IT support professional. I can understand the need to ensure that a user is applying good software patches on top of good software but not when the check being carried out relates to a different machine. In this example I was fixing a problem with a laptop not being able to authenticate with a WPA2-TKIP wifi base station. This occurs when the Driver for the Wifi card is not upto date or the relevant post Service Pack 2 patches have been applied. Since this laptop could not access the network and the onboard network card was also defunct I had to use a second machine to download software for the first. So you can imagine how frustrating it is to have to “certify” and “authenticate” the machine your downloading on in order to access the hotfix for another machine.

Windows Genuine Advantage

This process is entirely redundant and time consuming and possibly prone to create further issues on the machine on which I am about to download the patch. As you can see from the screen shot above it was necessary to download and run a program from Microsoft to check the PC. The hot fix worked in resolving the problem for the laptop and enabled me to then locate and enable the drivers for the rest of the laptop but the additional burden in time to handle this request as well as the potential for creating new problems on a secondary machine are not something the Client paying for my time would want of his operating system. It would be easy at this point to enter the usual scathing rants about closed and proprietary software however I cannot help but feel that this move is designed to ensure that support personal are using Windows products in order to support windows products and reduce the advantage of operating an alternative operating system with which to recover windows. Where will this leave us with DRM and Vista ? Since many conversations we had on Sunday at the British Computer Fair in Worthing were with visitors whom were already tired of the constant requirement to prove they are the legitimate owners of their operating systems it looks like a good time to talk about freedoms and ownership. However since many of these users are already well trained in accepting poor performance , shallow uptimes and constant nags and popups its likely as not that they will eventually be trained to accept the expectation that they must constantly prove ownership. Breaking this training , demonstrating like the little boy in the Emperors clothes tale the lack of product and showing that there is a different way will require as much patience as the users whom already accept their lack of ownership.
Thanks for reading.

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2 Comments on “The A is for Annoyance.

  1. Well, I hate to say it but my experience with Ubuntu and a card that would not authenticate with WPA was considerably worse (i.e. had to downgrade to WEP, ick). I will rip a crappy product when I can, but I also try to give MS credit where credit is due. At least that one program you ran fixed your problem. I spent hours researching, only to roll my daughter’s computer back to XP because everything “worked” and I would not be around for the ensuing 4 months to play IT guru. =(

  2. So its not only me, I’ve been battling with my Powerbook’s wifi all last night.

    I have to agree with you Nik, this WGA really grates on me, I wish Microsoft just devised something a little less intrusive.