During the past two years I have progressively gravitated towards the Mac (although Leopard is a bit of a disappointment in terms of stability compared to Tiger, IMO) to the point where a Macbook Pro is my primary machine and I only grudgingly use a PC.
Today, however, I had to spend a long time in the car with a friend and so I grabbed my little Sony Vaio TX790P which is a small and light machine that has amazing battery life and most importantly for my purposes, a PC Card slot that accommodates my Sprint EVDO Rev A card that gives me broadband access pretty much anywhere I might find myself.
I hadn’t pulled the Sony out in about 4 or 5 months. As a result, as soon as it authenticated via Sprint it received news that Microsoft wanted to update the machine – nothing wrong with that, I’m all for updates – the constant, never-ending battle between the ne’er do wells and the rest of the world dictates updates on an unfortunately frequent basis.
Of course, being the security conscious fellow that I am I clicked “OK” to download and install the update which then downloaded in the background and did its installation magic relatively invisibly. Cool. Fine.
But then, in the midst of what was a perfectly fine computing experience I was reminded of exactly why I NEVER choose to use Windows PC’s anymore given the choice. The restart request.
Sure, I understand that some (or in the case of Windows, most) upgrades necessitate that the machine be rebooted to integrate the changes made by the patches, etc. I have no problem with being notified of this fact either. Sooner or later I will acquiesce to the request and restart my machine so that the changes can go into effect. But what I don’t want, and realized today that I find almost infuriatingly annoying, is the fact that Windows simply won’t take “NO!” for an answer and leave you the hell alone.
With a Mac you upgrade and if the systems needs to be restarted you’ll be presented with that option – once. If you click “later” the system puts the restart option quietly in the dock where it waits peacefully until you are darn good and ready to finish the process.
Not so Windows. Click “restart later” and the damn request recurs every fifteen minutes until you finally give up and let the machine force you to interrupt what you are doing and allow it to reboot. This is annoying to say the least. Really annoying. Worse, if you continue to ignore this request and say walk away from the machine for a little while it will force a restart on you whether you were ready for it or not.
There’s nothing like coming back to a recently updated machine on which you were engaged in some task only to see that in your absence it has taken the liberty of restarting itself; presenting you with the cheery little green shield that upon mouse-over informs you that “your system has recently been updated”. Thank You very much!
So what I want to know is why? Why must I be forced to contend with this incessant and annoying interruption that I can’t seem to override and which, if I ignore it long enough will actually force an action that I was clearly avoiding for some reason or other. Now I can see how perhaps this makes sense for “users” on a machine but for an administrative level account this is ludicrous. The machine may want a restart but what gives it the right to dictate to me when that restart must take place?
How many times have you clicked “later” in response to this damnable restart request? How many times have people all over found their work, their train of thought or their concentration interrupted by a request to restart a computer at a time inconvenient to the user? How many documents and other work has been lost due to forced restarts when a user was not expecting one?
Now multiply this times the number of Windows machines in homes, schools, offices and other locations throughout the world. It’s a little staggering if you think about it the aggregate inconvenience, wasted time, lost productivity and frustration that this programming oversight has caused. All told on an annual basis, my guess is that this bug – and make no mistake about it when software is acting in a way inconsistent with the way a user wishes to work that’s a bug – contributes to tens – maybe even hundreds of millions of dollars in lost time and productivity.
Why Microsoft can’t take a cue from Mac and make the restart request a function that can be controlled at the discretion of the user is a mystery to me. All I know – as I hit the “later” button for the twenty-third time since I updated this darn machine today is that seeing the stupid gray box above is one very real reason why I have learned to hate Windows.