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Subject to Change by Rudy Yniguez: Windows XP upgrade? Don't do it unless you're rich

April 19, 2002

I have a character flaw that forces me to try to make the best of a bad thing and to try and get the longest life I can out of anything I buy.

For example, my home stereo speakers were bought in November 1975. I have other entertainment equipment bought in 1978. My CD player was bought in 1987 and despite the advertising you see today, it plays MP3 files I have burned quite well.

Sometimes, despite my best efforts, I fail at what I try, however. I recently decided I'd had enough with Compaq Computer's proprietary junk on the Presario desktop I own and bought the Windows XP upgrade.

What a mistake.

After considerable amount of time loading the upgrade, including a "system restore" point for later reference, I began loading the software I use the most.


None of it would work.

When I loaded Roxio's Easy CD Creator version 4, XP disabled two drivers because they made XP unstable. When I tracked down the drivers and deleted them, the system no longer saw my CD burner nor my DVD player. Windows offers no solution, and Roxio's solution was to suggest I buy the newest version of their software for only $90. Keep in mind that the only good thing from Roxio is its ability to rip music from CDs. Its ability to properly burn music CDs is unacceptable.

After restoring the two drivers, I would get a pop-up warning every time I started the computer telling me the drivers were disabled. Although I found a way to turn off the notification, it turns off all such notifications.

When I loaded Ahead Software's Nero Burning Rom application — even after upgrading it — it could no longer burn music CDs that included text with the audio files. Despite this, Nero is the CD-burning software to own.

The free software I used for encoding WAV audio files into MP3s would not work.

The installation of other software went the same. Windows XP would simply not work with them or the system would freeze or crash.

Should you decide to upgrade your Windows operating system to XP, keep in mind you will likely have to buy all new applications. Read every box to ensure the software supports XP.

To prevent kids from stealing Bill Gates' labor of love, you have to activate your copy of XP. The computer will offer to do so automatically, which I tried four times. It could not be done. I ended up calling and after giving a 50-digit number, I was given a 50-digit number back to activate. If you have problems that lead you to reinstall XP, you have to do the activation all over. You cannot use the activation number previously given.

Another problem with XP is that straight from the box it needs 12 "critical" updates. If you allow your computer, after upgrading to XP, to access Windows' support page, it will scan your computer and automatically tell you what upgrades it needs.

When I did that, it said my computer needed 12 critical updates, 12 upgrades for XP — not considered critical and three driver upgrades. The critical updates amounted to 11 megabytes of information that I had to download by modem, and Microsoft will only allow you to download the upgrades to the computer that needs them; not to a different computer with a fast connection, save them and take them home.

The worst part about the critical updates is that all of them describe the horrible things that will happen to your computer by some hacker if you do not install the upgrades, but you can only do it by going online and exposing your computer to the awful things the updates are supposedly going to fix.

I say supposedly because since XP was released we've been told it is the most secure operating system available. Yeah, right.

It's scary to think a few short months ago Microsoft's expert in security was in the running to become President Bush's computer security expert. Thankfully, someone else got the job.

Anyway, after finally getting the computer to where I thought it was working, I suddenly got the upgraded blue screen of death at startup and the computer would no longer boot. The blue screen of death told me to boot in "safe mode," but that didn't work either.

I'd finally had enough. It was one thing to find some of my favorite applications on the Internet, but the blue screen was too much. I uninstalled XP and went back to Windows Millennium, another piece of junk marketed by Microsoft.

Now I have a copy of XP just sitting there collecting dust.

How I long for the day I can afford a new Apple.

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