Windows Activation Sucks (Like This is New?)

My old 7 year old Dell is now (or will be after getting activated) relegated as the kids computer.  This means I don’t care what they do to it as long as it still boots up and can run the occasional test app.  It had a bunch of development software on it and old files that they kids don’t need and that they probably shouldn’t see anyway (no, not porn – like old contracts and stuff like that).

So I wiped the drive.  I reinstalled Windows XP SP1.  Of course I couldn’t find the original Dell drivers CD so I had no network connectivity.  So I had to download a network driver from the Dell website using my trusty iMac (which now runs XP, Vista, and Ubuntu) and burned it to a CD so I could install it on the Dell.  Great.  Finally got the network up and running via ethernet cable – forget about the Wireless network for now.

So I figured I’d just bite the bullet and activate Windows sooner rather than later because I know it’s going to choke on some new update that requires Windows to be a certified genuine live advantage BS (or whatever they’re calling it these days).  I knew this was going to be painful as I just activated Windows on not just one, two but three copies of XP on two separate iMac’s running VMWare and one running Parallels.  Each time it failed validation and required a phone call.

So this brings you to the validation window and an 800 number that forces you to type in what seems to be a gazillion set of 6 digitis.  Since I’ve been through this before I went to the bathroom got a drink and got into my best yoga position to achieve a zen moment even though the pleasant recording said it would only take ‘about’ six minutes.  After speaking into the phone like a friggin’ idiot with all those numbers, I’m oh so pleasantly told that she couldn’t help me.  No shit.  I could have told her that before I started but that wasn’t an option.  So now comes the really fun part.

I get transferred to someone half way around the world where I have to give them the numbers AGAIN!  Come on folks, this is computer company that is supposed to help companies do a better job with their data.  Couldn’t the call router send an id to the db record that I’m sure it just recorded?  Obviously not.  Instead I have to talk to someone half way across the world with a horrible phone connection and after the first three sets of numbers their phone system hangs up.  Good thing the kid was asleep because he would have learned a few things.

So I go through the whole process again even though my zen moment is gone.  The computerized activation system, the transfer to a human being and I this time somewhere on the planet a phone rings twice and the system hangs up again.  So Microsoft has now wasted about 6 hours of my time between reformatting, not having all the drivers needed and trying to activate Windows.  And I’m not.  Done.  Yet.

It would have been far simpler and cheaper to just go buy a new computer and throw the old one away.  And people wonder why I’m pro-Apple.

If I wasn’t  a cross-platform software developer I would be a Microsoft free household.  At least with REALbasic I can develop on the Mac and only use Windows when I have to.  VMWare and Parallels makes this incredibly easy to do and more or less pain free.

Do I feel better now?  Only partially because I know that I’ll have to go through this whole process again tomorrow sometime.