In steady state, only geeks install Windows, but the hard part is getting to that steady state

Commenter BryanK notes that only already-technical people (re)install Windows; commenter Stu estimates the percentage at 99%. That may be true in the steady state, but the hard part is getting to that steady state.

When a new version of Windows is released, the steady state is disrupted. At that point, most people installing Windows aren't technical. They're your technology columnist who is installing Windows and viewing it through the eyes of a non-technical user, then writing a column about it. They're your average consumer who wants to check out this new operating system. These are the crazy people who stayed up late to buy the product at the stroke of midnight, and they're going to kick off an upgrade install once they get home. These initial impressions are crucial, and innundating the user with geeky questions they can't answer is not going to generate good buzz.

The steady state is also disrupted every year at Christmas. The technology columnists are not as big a part of the picture, but the non-technical end users are still around, and Christmas is a common trigger for upgrading one's system.

So even though non-technical people rarely install Windows, the steady state is upset every year. What's more, whenever a new release of Windows comes out all¹ the people who are installing Windows are non-technical. That's why it's important for the installation process to be as friendly to non-technical users as possible.

¹The word "all" here is about as accurate as the word "only" in the original comment.

Comments (46)
  1. Markus says:

    My sister is a project manager for one of those outsourcing companies in Dallas.  She coordinates in-house and out-of-country software development teams.  She considers herself highly computer literate but she is what I see as a perfect example of what most "already-technical" people are.  

    She visited for Christmas and needed to use our computer to type up a document for work.  She uses Word daily and has for years.  I can count the times I’ve used Word in the past eight years on one hand.  She had a red faced fit because she couldn’t figure out how to change a text attribute (our toolbar layout was different).  I found how and changed the attribute in less than 20 seconds.

    She visited in July and was surfing the net and ordering stuff in our kitchen.  From my room I printed a "You have been Haxored!  All your credit card info are belong to us!" message on the printer beside her.  She didn’t know the computers or the printer were networked but she didn’t panic (like everyone else I pulled it on).  She knew it was me and said it was stupid.  Why?  "Because it’s not possible for someone to print on your printer from somewhere else."  Hmmm, I was somewhere else…

    Over Thanksgiving I was explaining to my nephew that he should be cautious about using his laptop on unknown or unencrypted access points.  In particular I was discussing all the ways someone could gain access to his personal info.  My sister was there and she logged into her online bank account to send an e-check as we were talking.  I noticed that her login info was sent plaintext and explained that though the rest of the session was secure someone sniffing our wireless could easily crack the wep encryption and capture enough info to clean out her account.  She spoke up and argued for 20 minutes that it’s not possible because she never entered her account number and none of her info was displayed fully on the web page.  I kept pointing out "they know what site you went to, they know your login and they know your password.  That’s all they need to get in and send a check – that’s all you needed wasn’t it?"  She refused to accept it.  Haha, she lives in a building where she gets over a dozen open wireless connections that she haphazardly surfs the net on.

    Ok, this isn’t quite the technical you might have in mind for "already-technical" but the reality is an awful lot of otherwise bright people consider themselves perfectly computer/technical literate if all they can do is carry out their everyday chores on a computer.  From moronic project managers to true illiterates to wanna be geeks and haxors there are a lot of people installing windows that shouldn’t be using computers unsupervised.

  2. John says:

    Are you serious?  Technology reviewers aside (and by their very nature they are somewhat geeky), it has been my experience that virtually no non-geeks (re)install Windows, even when a new release comes out.  Every non-technical person I know either a) buys a new computer or b) has a geek friend (re)install it for them.  For the vast majority of non-technical users, computers == magic.

    And are you seriously suggesting that people stayed up to midnight to get Vista?  Man, I feel bad for them; what a letdown!

    Anyway, somebody needs to do a study on this.  I don’t believe the numbers are anywhere near as high as you imply.

    [You must be new here. (1) Technology reviewers are just barely geeky enough to be dangerous. (See an example on page 34 of my book.) (2) I don’t know whether people stayed up to midnight to get Vista. I know they did for Windows 95. That’s why I used generalities instead of specifics. Don’t make me bring back the nitpicker’s corner. (3) I think my numbers were about as well researched as the ones in the original comments. -Raymond]
  3. John says:

    Markus:  Did you just call your sister moronic?  LOL.

  4. Will says:

    I think a lot of non-geeks used to (re)install Windows, but that number has decreased a lot since Windows has become more stable, more expensive, and more resource hungry.

    In pre-XP days re-installing windows was the defacto first step everyone and their momma recommended.  I know numerous people who have used Windows since 3.1, and who are still mostly computer illiterate, yet they’ve installed and re-installed the various versions of windows numerous times.  Only with XP’s increased stability has that begun to change… but re-installs still happen a lot by non-geeks because that’s often the easiest way to eradicate spyware/software induced instability.

    Early versions of Windows were (or seemed) expensive to most of us, but newer versions are much more so, especially the more feature packed versions.  That cuts down on the number of non-geeks upgrading.  Most won’t unless they have to – which most casual users do not.

    Newer versions of Windows seem to be growing power and resource hungry at an exponential rate.  Though that’s not true in reality the demand for more machine is significant enough that most non-geek users have learned better than to upgrade to a newer version of Windows when their hardware barely runs the version they have.   It’s almost cheaper to buy a better computer with the newer version of Windows and that’s nearly always the wiser choice.

  5. Merus says:

    How does buying a computer with Windows pre-installed factor into this? I honestly don’t think I know anyone who has bought a boxed copy of Windows, but then that’s just the people I know, obviously.

  6. Markus says:

    John: Markus: Did you just call your sister moronic?  LOL

    Yes John, yes I did.  My sister is a perfect example of a major problem with the software industry – moronic project managers that don’t remotely comprehend the projects they oversee.  Zero, yes zero, technical knowledge – only dates and schedules and ill-conceived goals in mind – complete with a loud mouth and a bullying attitude and a desire to enforce the idiocy at all costs.

    My sister is indeed a moronic project manager, and I bet someone reading Raymond’s blog has had to deal with her.  If anyone’s in Dallas and they’re developing jointly with teams in India and they’ve got an obnoxious female project manager that they curse daily because she has no technical knowledge and no clue then they’ve probably called her a moron many times themselves.  They’d curse even more if they knew she was making three times what they are.

    I fully expect to see her mentioned on thedailywtf at some point, but I’m sure someone’s mentioned her on some blog or website somewhere.

  7. anonymous says:

    Slightly offtopic: I was a fan of reinstalling Windows but Vista SP1 and Visual Studio SP1 changed everything. Now I fear Service Packs for newer products. Microsoft must acknowledged their failure to develop a sufficiently fast patching process, in spite of developing a fast installation process. To add insult to injury, Vista SP1 doesn’t even allow slipstreaming. If the net result is time saved on earlier OSes and wasted in new OSes, how can Vista be called an evolution?

  8. Jess Sightler says:

    "I noticed that her login info was sent plaintext and explained that though the rest of the session was secure someone sniffing our wireless could easily crack the wep encryption and capture enough info to clean out her account.  She spoke up and argued for 20 minutes that it’s not possible because she never entered her account number and none of her info was displayed fully on the web page."

    If the bank’s login page was really unencrtyped, then the WEP wireless access is the least concerning problem.

    I have never seen a bank like that.  As far as I know, it isn’t even legal in the US.

    Which bank is this so that we can all ridicule them?

  9. John says:

    Markus:  Man, you don’t hold anything back.  Ouch.

    anonymous:  Tell me about it.  I lost an entire day to Visual Studio 2005 SP1.  First I tried installing it through Microsoft Update (admittedly a bad idea); it failed towards the end of the process for reasons unknown.  Then I downloaded it and manually installed it successfully.  Both times the update process took close to three hours (even the one that failed).  The original product installation took less than an hour.  Just a horrible experience.  On another computer I didn’t have enough free space.  The patch file is (only) 450 MB or so but it requires more free space than the original installation does.

    [Feel free to complain about Visual Studio 2005 SP1 to the Visual Studio team. Complaining to me accomplishes nothing. Actually, I might join your complaint. I wish it took me only six hours. -Raymond]
  10. Raymond: “I don’t know whether people stayed up to midnight to get Vista. I know they did for Windows 95.”

    An answer to this would probably be part of the answer to the next question: Over the years, does MS manage to get faster to steady state? (assuming it wants to)

    [Are you asking me a question or just talking out loud? If you’re asking me a question, it’s a question I don’t even know how to research the answer to. (And even if I knew, I probably wouldn’t take the time because it doesn’t interest me personally. It was just color. Maybe I should write with less color.) -Raymond]
  11. talking out loud.

    [If you just want to talk out loud, please consider doing it on your own blog. If you post a comment on my blog, I assume you’re talking to me. -Raymond]
  12. macbirdie says:

    And like Raymond blogged on some time ago, many users don’t even know they’re not advanced. Complaints on XP/2003 installer’s inability to load SCSI/SATA drivers from anything other than a floppy are endless.

    But I have to say that to many non-geeks, this part of Windows installation is a showstopper.

    anonymous: There’s a document down in the tubes on integrating Visual Studio SP1 ( ). I’m sure there is or soon will be a way to compile a Vista deployment image with SP1 integrated as well.

  13. daw says:

    This post makes sense: It is very common situation where the user will not understand question about internals of their computer. So what you have just said (Installing the system) would cause a problem for the user. However the post you link to about Windows over writing the boot sector does not make as much sense: There is multi boot standard ( for this.

  14. wtroost says:

    I’ve upgraded to every version of Windows, but Vista required a lot more time to get working that XP did.  Several friends have also reverted to XP, because of resurfacing issues with networking, file sharing, and old applications breaking down.  For myself I’m thinking you are erring on the side of security in the security-usability trade off, and I’m hoping SP1 will fix some of the issues.

    Out of curiosity, do you run Vista on your home machine(s)?

  15. alex.r. says:

    Even for the set technical users (which I consider to be part of for some definition of the set) it can be quite irritating to see that the installation process is more complex than it should.

    I tend to complain a little every time a computer asks me something it should be able to answer on its own, even if I know the answer.

    In other words, I complain a lot.

    I also comment on this blog…

    From what I can see the two might be correlated.

  16. gkdada says:


    I don’t know about Raymond, but I run Vista x64 on both my office and home machines. I also dual boot to XP MCE on my home machine, (mostly used only to play TTD and Civ2…they don’t run on x64)

  17. Nick says:

    (See an example on page 34 of my book.)

    This may be a stupid question, but I bounced around that site quite a bit and was surprised to see the entire book available online for free.  I’m wondering how and/or why?

    [In the hope that you will say “Hey, this book is pretty neat, I should buy a copy.” (Hint hint.) -Raymond]
  18. Nawak says:

    Please stop the Vista bashing.

    I think it has to be quite annoying to constantly depreciate Vista in front of those who worked very hard on it, such as Raymond I think.

    Tagetted complains and constructive remarks are ok imho, but enough of "lolz vista so slow, i will never downgrade from XP!1!"

    I personally tried Vista on a recently bought laptop for a relative and, yes, it felt slower than XP but not slow enough to deserve what it got. My overall impression was good and maybe I think I will install it on my main ‘home’ machine soon.

  19. Peter says:


    "But I have to say that to many non-geeks, this part of Windows installation is a showstopper."

    I think in the context of this discussion I am a geek/technical person/whatever, and I found it to be a showstopper. It seemed to load the drivers at first, but wouldn’t finish the install – slipstreaming them got further, but eventually bluescreened.

    No doubt there’s some reason I found it so hard, but it all became so painful that I gave up and decided I didn’t really want to play the game I was installing it for that badly. Seems clear to me that it is not a process ever intended for a non-technical user – I always presumed that Microsoft never seriously expected anyone else to install Windows.

  20. DriverDude says:

    "As it is, you get a huge group of changes all at once, and given that people don’t like change, that’s hard.  If there was some way to release the upgrades incrementally, piecemeal, it may help."

    You mean like Apple? I think they released four major versions of Mac OS X during XP’s lifetime.

    I’ve actually stopped trying to do "fancy" things like dual-booting. Partly because I don’t throw out my old PC and it runs old software just fine, but also because it’s often easier to use most software – Windows and all – as if I were a non-technical average Joe. That’s who the software is designed and tested for. Sometimes it’s just easier to give up.

  21. hb says:

    As a non-geek, I have to say that my daughter and I did spend 4 hours installing Vista on her "vista compatible" computer that came loaded with XP and a coupon for Vista. It only took 4 calls to Sony tech support to get it accomplished and then we let it run all night.

    So, people do do it.

    BTW, I advised her to wait a month to buy a laptop to avoid it because I was one of those crazy people who, years ago, had to have Win98 the moment it appeared. That was a nightmare, too. My son, who now works at MSFT reminded me of that over the weekend.

  22. Igor Levicki says:


    No we won’t stop bashing Vista.

    In my opinion 32-bit version was a waste of time to develop and test. You can get 8GB of RAM for $185 these days and Vista32 can put to use only 3GB.

    Without at least 3GB or RAM 32-bit version is unusable for any serious workload.

    64-bit version of Vista on the other hand is unstable.

    Where both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows XP work flawlessly, Vista64 gives me bogus machine check exceptions (not your average BSOD or Dr. Watson mind you, just cold reboots) when I open Outlook to compose an email message but not when I play Crysis. Just try to figure that one out — Outlook more demanding than a latest DX10 title. Bah.

    When we are mentioning user experience, it seems that Microsoft still thinks that MCE (machine check exceptions) should just be hex-dumped into the system event log instead of translating them into a meaningfull error message. That is so 90’s for such a modern “from the ground up” OS.

    [Hey, why not start a “let’s all bash Vista” blog? That way the rest of us can discuss what we want to discuss, and you can discuss what you want to discuss, and we won’t bother each other. Or maybe you’re the sort of person who calls a radio show every day to tell the host he sucks. -Raymond]
  23. brian says:

    I have never understood why people buy upgrades to  an OS and not the boxed version.

    All upgrades are suk.  Leopard included.  

    When people say "I ain’t gonna upgrade to Vista", I say "Good, your computer is crap.  You should start fresh."

    There is no going back when you upgrade.  You should always start fresh and keep that old drive/box around in case you need it.

  24. J says:

    @Igor Levicki

    I vote that you do stop bashing vista because this isn’t the appropriate forum for it and not all of us care that you had trouble running it with 3 GB of ram or you get machine check exceptions.  I’d read a tech support blog or something if I wanted to hear your personal history with Vista.

    (In particular I don’t care because I run the 32-bit version just fine with 1.5 GB ram and have never gotten a MCE on 64-bit vista w/ 2 GB ram, but this isn’t the forum to discuss such stupid things)

    [Maybe Igor Levicki is Norman Diamond’s protégé. -Raymond]
  25. BryanK says:

    Oh, I don’t know about every year.  At the time I made that comment (late 2005), XP had been out for four Christmases already (2002 through 2005); I suspect that by that time, very few people were getting it for the first time.  Of course I don’t know that for sure, either.  But the only reason it was in that state was because it took so long for Vista to actually get out the door.

    And all of that just means that my comment was only valid at that time, instead of all the time — you’re right that when a new OS is released, "everyone" installing it is basically dumb, and I’d say that that’s probably true for at least a couple of Christmases after as well.

    So, how to fix it?  One way is to dumb down the installer to keep this type of user happy (and keep others buying from you), and that certainly is easy.

    If you don’t want to dumb down the installer, then I’m not sure, but I suspect it might help if upgrades to Windows weren’t as jarring as they are.  As it is, you get a huge group of changes all at once, and given that people don’t like change, that’s hard.  If there was some way to release the upgrades incrementally, piecemeal, it may help.

    (It would also help the "install the new version as an upgrade" path, which doesn’t work on any OS I’ve ever tried it with; that includes both Windows and most Linux distros.  It seems to work better to format, or to install to a second disk and dual-boot for a while if you still need the old version.  But releasing the changes piecemeal over time, and letting users adopt them gradually, seems to work a lot better for at least Debian: there are a few times where a lot of changes come at once, but they’re rare.)

    Of course that prevents an easy revenue stream, so I’d be surprised if Microsoft would even consider it.  It’d also be a huge change, and dumbing down the installer *is* way (way, way) easier; that explains why things are the way they are.  Doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best solution, but that’s what happens.

    (To clarify the original comment: I suspect it was true at that time.  I seriously doubt that it’s true anymore, now that Vista exists.  It will probably be true again in a few years, if no new version gets released.  Yeah, I’m weaseling.  ;-) )

  26. Greg P says:


    As long as you have some kind of full windows CD you can "upgrade" from nothing. The installation just prompts you to insert that CD.

    (Prior to Vista anyway, I’ve heard reports it doesn’t allow you to do this anymore.)

  27. Stephen Jones says:

    Installing Windows has never been particularly difficult.

    The problems come afterwards. First of all until W2000 you would have to install the video driver afterwards since the standard setting would be 16 bit color (I ran a W95 installation in 16 bit color for two years because nobody told me about video card drivers – cost a fortune in ink cartridges printing out all the porn that looked crap on screen). You would also have a fair number of other drivers to install; I remember my first computer with W3.1. The mouse wouldn’t work and to get to the tutorial apparently you needed the mouse. To add to the Catch 22 the shop that sold me the computer would be closed. I rushed to the nearest bookshop and got out a 600 page volume (in Spanish) in MS DOS and W3.1. After an all-nighter reading it I went to the shop the next morning where they told me I had a floppy with a thing called a driver I had to install.

    Now you avoid most of that problem but you have other hassles. First of all the problem of shifting Documents and Settings over to the D drive. Easy enough, but then you have to spend 45 minutes deleting all the registry entries to the old location.

    That of course is for geeks. But even non-geeks have to install Office, and a graphics program, and a heck of a lot of other things. It actually takes me a day and a half to install everything on a Windows computer.

    With Linux surprisingly enough it is a lot easier, not because the OS install is more intuitive (it isn’t) but because you can install everything else from the same distro so you only have to do one software install.

    There are two statements you can make that show your ignorance and bias in my opinion.

    a) That Linux is much too difficult to install compared to Windows

    b) That 2000/XP is really unstable and needs frequent rebooting so you should install Linux or buy a Mac.

    In both cases, if anything, the opposite is true.

  28. Joe says:

    You might add: in a steady state, only geeks run Windows Vista (or XP, or whatever).

    The other 99% run Windows.

    This is worth remembering *before* developing version-specific software.

  29. @John – I’m sorry to hear about your VS 2k5 SP1 experience. Mail me ( if you have issues installing it on any other machine – I can try routing it to the right people internally.

  30. scorpion007 says:

    I tried posting before, didn’t seem to work.

    Anyway, Re: the service pack for VS 2005, it’s already been posted a few times on Connect:

    And Heath Stewart (MSFT) has blogged about it here:

    I’d still like it faster though.

    [That message, and this one, were treated as spam by the blog software. I fished it out of the Recycle Bin for you, but don’t expect me to do this favor in the future. -Raymond]
  31. Markus says:

    Jess – If I recall correctly it was a Texas based bank or credit union.  It wasn’t local to my state or a national bank.  The logon page itself was not secure and I saw two distinct page loads/redirects with an http url between the time she hit enter to log in and the time her account came up with secure connection icon on an https page.  So… I really just got the impression that the login was sent plaintext and used that to start a discussion, but I’m reasonably sure I was correct.

    Igor:  Maybe if you didn’t load your machine up with the cheapest RAM you can buy you wouldn’t have so many problems with Vista.

    I still encounter people who complain about the stability of XP but almost exclusively they fall into one of a few categories – 1) Overclockers and tweakers 2) Install anything and everythingers  3) Bargain hardware hunters  4) XP on XT’ers (exaggeration, but you get the idea)

    Anyone who fits into any of these categories bears as much, if not more, responsibility for the instability of their OS than their OS does itself.  Marginal hardware, marginal settings, marginal drivers and malware masses…. argghh

  32. scorpion007 says:

    “[That message, and this one, were treated as spam by the blog software. I fished it out of the Recycle Bin for you, but don’t expect me to do this favor in the future. -Raymond]”

    Huh? Why was it treated as spam? Because I posted a URL link? I certainly am not trying to spam in your blog.

    [I don’t know what algorithm Community Server uses to detect spam, but whatever it is, you triggered it. -Raymond]
  33. Cheong says:

    Actually, the fact that some people demands downgrade from Vista to WinXP caused "the number of non-geek people to reinstall Windows" to increase becasue the recovery DVD/partition is not for WinXP.

  34. Scorpion007: I suspect it had to do with the ratio of links:text in your comment – it was unusually high, which often means "spam".

  35. Bikedude says:

    Igor wrote: "Vista64 gives me bogus machine check exceptions (not your average BSOD or Dr. Watson mind you, just cold reboots)"

    Good grief Igor… Are you a man or a mouse?

    Vista64 run just fine on my MacBookPro w/4GB memory. Even though Apple are late to the game with drivers, Vista64 never crashes on me.

    I strongly suggest you take a look on your hw configuration and third-party drivers. I am 100% sure you have some crap loaded somewhere that is the root cause of all your problems.

    E.g. a colleague of mine wanted to reinstall Vista (32-bit) the other day, because he had some video playback issues on his Dell Latitude. I told him to install the latest nVidia beta drivers and lo and behold, the problem went away. Turns out Dell are slow to release nVidia drivers and the old ones are …crappy. Reinstalling the OS in this case would’ve triggered the exact same behaviour. Installing the correct drivers fixed all issues.

    In short Igor: BSODs are never bogus. Machine freezes aren’t bogus. Vista doesn’t trigger them just for fun. Spend some time making sure you have working hardware drivers (and good quality hardware) and you’ll be fine. This advice is not OS specific and applies to OSX, Linux and BSD as well! (Except Linux doesn’t feature BSOD, you just get a meaningless/cryptic "Kernel Panic!" instead :( )

  36. Bikedude says:

    Stephen: In the case of Fedora RC4 (or whatever it was called), installation is much more complex. How do you avoid the ext2 filesystem without reading the docs? How do you even get the thing installed on a Tyan rackmounted server with an ATI controller built-in? (Fedora came with a broken ATI driver…)

    I’ll take a Windows install any day thank you very much. Win2k, XP, 2003 or Vista. They’re all good.

  37. Matthieu says:

    This post makes sense: It is very common situation where the user will not understand question about internals of their computer. So what you have just said (Installing the system) would cause a problem for the user. However the post you link to about Windows over writing the boot sector does not make as much sense: There is multi boot standard ( for this.

  38. mh says:

    I’d say it’s actually reasonably common that non-technical people install Windows.  A lot of small businesses have the "IT guy" who’s sole qualification is that "he knows some things about computers".  This person may have some aptitude, but would likely never have had any proper instruction or training, and his/her success would be more down to a knack for doing the right thing.

    I’m all for dumbing-down the install process anyway – remember, an OS install is a means to an end rather than an end in itself, and anything that helps you get from A to B as quickly and painlessly as possible has got to be a good thing.

    Finally, I’d like to join the VS2005 SP1 "love club" – I’ve only installed the Express SP1 versions, but have never had a problem with them.  In face, Visual C# 2005 SP1 fixes a bug where dubug runs wouldn’t work if Terminal Services was disabled – result! :)

  39. Jeff Parker says:

    This article struck me as insightful, especially the part about Christmas. People can never figure out why I take all 3 and a half weeks of my vacation over Christmas and new years and basically go out of all communication. I am a "nice guy" somewhat anyway, if someone asks me for help I will try to help them, I ask them why when I work at a global fortune 500 company as a programmer in an office with 50 tech people they always ask me. Mainly because non tech people at work, know I fix it, I fix it correctly and I can explain what happened and why in a way that the normal person can understand. This used to make my holidays suck because everyone would ask me for help with what ever new toy they had got, or wanted me to spec out new computers for them or recommend hardware or something else along those lines. Really this just compounded my holiday stress. But what really set me off to finally change all my phone numbers and give them only to my boss to get a hold of in an emergency and then just take all vacation around holidays was when the CEO of our company called me on Christmas day at my moms house just as I was sitting down with my family for Christmas dinner to tell me he just got a new Wireless router for Christmas and could I walk him through hooking it all up and everything over the phone right now. For me Christmas time sucks, to many non tech people need help. I spent this Christmas with My Sister and her husband getting their new Laptops all set up, patched, on the wireless network etc. Good thing is they had me spec them out at Thanksgiving and I make sure they had XP on it, I did not need the entire Christmas and new years trying to explain it to them and try to get them through all the security dialogs. I had my own toys to play with MS Released a MSDN subscribers Christmas with VS 2008.

  40. Stephen Jones says:

    —"Stephen: In the case of Fedora RC4 (or whatever it was called), installation is much more complex. How do you avoid the ext2 filesystem without reading the docs? How do you even get the thing installed on a Tyan rackmounted server with an ATI controller built-in?"——

    I was talking about a desktop install; for a rack mounted server a minimum of geekiness might be presumed.

    But I was not claiming that installing the OS was easier, or even as easy, with Linux as with Windows. What I am saying is that the whole experience of installing the OS and all the apps is much easier with a Linux distribution because you install everything at one go.

  41. James says:

    I saw this close up just before the Christmas vacation – one of my users wanted to upgrade his laptop to Vista. He felt fairly confident doing it, so I let him try. He actually succeeded in installing Vista – but immediately reverted to XP, because he’d accidentally been forced into installing a clean Vista installation on his second partition (not enough free space on the XP one) which isn’t what he wanted at all.

    I re-partitioned to give enough free space on the XP partition, left Vista installing overnight (c. 8 hours, with no real progress indication: a huge regression from Win98 in that respect!) – only to find it had eaten my Administrator user account. A bit of warning would have been nice! (Vista assumes that if there’s another admin-level account, it’s OK to disable ‘Administrator’; this interacts quite badly with my usual setup of keeping the Administrator password for myself and giving the laptop’s owner their own admin-level account with their own password.)

    So, restore from backup, create another admin-level account for myself, another 8 hours installing Vista, and finally – at the third attempt! – he had a usable Vista installation upgraded from XP. Quite why this took eight hours to upgrade, while the installer team members were bragging about 10-20 *minute* installations depending on media, I don’t know.

    Getting back to Raymond’s original post: yes, Windows certainly does get installed by non-expert users, and needs to be designed and tested to support that. It does quite a good job – but still has some infuriating rough edges.

  42. Leo Davidson says:

    My take on it is that geeks will probably go through every Control Panel applet right after they install, making sure everything is just how they want it, so there probably isn’t a need to ask questions during the install which only geeks will care about. They’ll find and change them anyway if they’re interested in them.

    (Unless, of course, they are about things which can only be set during the initial install.)

    On the other hand, there are a few questions which are very important to non-geeks (and probably geeks as well), and the non-geeks may be intimidated by Control Panel, so having just those questions in the installer makes sense.

  43. jd2066 says:

    Reply to the comment by "anonymous"

    "Vista SP1 doesn’t even allow slipstreaming"

    Vista SP1 isn’t out yet.

    Just a release candidate so it makes sense that you can’t slipstream it.

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