So I am doing a clean install of Vista on a professor's computer today, and there were a few things that, in and of themselves, are not worthy of a post, but together, are a few pet peeves worth mentioning:
That default beep. Laptop manufacturers, you really need to get on this. Every time I install Windows, it of course doesn't come with even the most basic of sound drivers, so when I inevitably do something to anger the computer gods, they let me know with a Thundering Default Beep from Hell. I'm not sure if it's just because I'm never expecting it, or because it really is as earth-shatteringly loud as it seems, but I'm just minding my own business, checking to make sure all of Office is installed, and when I close out of the install, BAM! this horrible noise comes booming forth from depths that I didn't know the laptop had. After almost having a heart attack, I recover to see that it's asking me if I really want to cancel the install. Yes. I do. That's why I clicked cancel. I understand protecting against the accidental click, but there is no need to aurally assault me in the process.
If there's anything good about the situation, it's that I only encountered it twice this time - the second, however, was when I inadvertently clicked the "Network" icon when trying to install the sound driver (the first driver I installed, to avoid these terrible missives), and it once again growled out a terrible warning that I'm sorry, I don't have my tentacles in any network yet. Which I informed it (with a click on the "OK" button) that that was quite alright, because you see, I haven't installed any network drivers yet, and was just trying to install a dad-gum sound driver so that you would stop trying to wake up my roommate when you blasted me with all your might because I accidentally clicked too low.
As a sidenote, I realized as I wrote this that I've never had this problem with Linux in the many times I've installed it, and then I remembered that it's the same reason Ubuntu doesn't come up at 800x600, 16 colors without Internet access or a decent browser. And that reason is because it doesn't suck, meaning it isn't Windows. And I'd forgotten how much better it makes things when you can hear, see, and download things without scurrying off to another computer to download half a dozen drivers. Thank you, Linux, for being awesome.
Speaking of things that come preinstalled with Linux, another thing that always comes up with a clean install of Windows is a PDF reader. Now, on my own machines, I just install SumatraPDF, Foxit Reader, or one of the other fine free, small PDF readers that are readily available. On a computer for a professor, though, I feel the need to actually install Adobe, so that if something goes wrong (they can't fill out a form or something), they can't blame my strange PDF reader.
And every time, I am newly astonished that Adobe Reader is still a gargantuan 41.1 MB download. And this is after being compressed by getPlus Helper, which requires the Adobe DLM (powered by getPlus(R)), a Firefox plugin that is (it assures me) a "sophisticated tool for an efficient distribution of digital goods." I call it bloat, with some nice buzzwords thrown in for good measure. Installing a PDF reader should NOT require a Firefox plugin, a helper downloader, and 41MB. There are plenty of readers that don't require a plugin, because they're small. I could understand 4MB. And 1.2MB is even better. And if someone can do it in 636KB, without a fancy decompressor Firefox plugin, you know Adobe is doing something wrong. And unlike Adobe, none of those dump and then leave installation files on my desktop. If only there were greater consequences for such crimes against computerdom.
Speaking of crimes against computerdom, I had to, of course, install anti-virus software, and then check for updates. Before forgetting that Vista has it built in (thank heavens, the click twenty times, restart the browser, download an ActiveX control or two, twiddle your thumbs, click twelve more times, restart again, and wait twenty minutes to be told you need to update to .NET 6.0 was getting tiring), I typed windowsupdate.microsoft.com in Firefox, not thinking, and got an error page (it's from a redirect, so the link will work in any browser). A text-only, "thanks for trying, but you need IE" page. I would think Microsoft would make a little snazzier than that...but hey. At least it's not bloat.