Friday, March 23, 2007

Vista – final connections

A couple of weeks ago I described the pain of setting up a Vista machine – and to be honest most of that pain was simply because we are so familiar with XP machines and anything Vista did differently came as an unpleasant surprise. This blog brings you right up-to-date with events. Readers may be interested to know that I am now working on my Vista machine each day and this blog was written using it. I am gradually getting to find my way round it.

Anyway, story so far, we bought a new Vista laptop for the office and we assigned it to our office workgroup. We used the “Network and Sharing Center” to make sharing possible and we turned off Norton so that the XP machines in our workgroup could access the new machine. We used Laplink to transfer everything from my old XP machine to this new Vista machine. All the applications seemed OK except Word, which wouldn’t run so we hacked it to make it work. Now Word documents won’t open except from inside Word.

Historically, Xephon (
www.xephonusa.com) used Macintoshes to produce its Update publications and my XP machine used PC MacLAN to connect to the Macs. The last copy of MacLAN we bought came from a company called Miramar. It allowed the PC to access a Mac as a guest and copy files backwards and forwards. MacLAN is now owned by CA (ca.com), who acquired it in March 2004. CA, well actually their very nice PR people, told us that PC MacLAN is not compatible with Vista and there are currently no plans to update the product. Oh dear. For reasons that are long and historical the Macs are running V9 and not OS X (tiger). Does anyone know of a product that will connect Vista with an old-style Mac? As a consequence of this, I am left having to access my old XP machine in order to access my Mac.

My old computer had a parallel port on the back, which could be used to connect to a printer. In fact mine connected to an Iomega ZIP drive and then to a printer. We used old 100MB ZIP drives because that’s what were connected to the Macs. They were used for a lot of our back-ups. Now the first very obvious problem was that my new HP laptop does not have a parallel port on it! But even if it did, the Iomega Web site (
www.iomega.com) lists all the operating systems that it has drivers for – DOS, Windows 3.1, Windows 2000, Windows XP, etc – but none for Vista. Yet again I have an older product for which there is no Vista support. So my old XP machine also has the ZIP drive still attached to it. My Vista machine is using an external hard drive for back-ups. We keep talking about network storage – it looks like we’ll really have to start using it.

So two failures with Vista, but the next thing was to connect the printer. Again, historically, we have had a printer attached to each computer so there is no waiting for output. I have a three-year old HP Business Inkjet 1100 that prints on both sides and has separate colour cartridges. I was told it was a top-of-the-range machine when I bought it. But you’ll never guess what happened next! I went to Hewlett Packard’s Web site (www.hp.com) to download the Vista drivers for this business class printer only to find that HP doesn’t have any!! It says, “HP Product Is Not Supported in Microsoft Windows Vista”. I expect HP hadn’t heard about Microsoft’s new operating system until it was launched and they’re busy catching up now!!!

So now my printer is left attached to my old XP machine along with the ZIP drive and my connection the Mac network. These three problems are not the fault of Microsoft, they are three other companies that do not want to support older products. I’m just glad I didn’t have the scanner attached to my computer, who knows whether there would be drivers for that!

I remember when legacy was used as a derogatory term for mainframe hardware and software. It now seems that three years is a very long time for PCs. If you are planning to buy a Vista machine, I’d wait until all these other third-party suppliers have caught up. I’d also wait until there is more expertise out there so the migration process can be done in an afternoon and not over two weeks.

And do I like using Vista? For ordinary work it is no different, but I do like the size of my new laptop’s screen. The Windows + alt key combination looks impressive when I’m showing Vista to new people. The Search facility is just bizarre. It’s quicker for me to look where I think the file is than to wait for the Search facility not to find it!

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