I'm still drying out and powering up after California's storms, as is my webhost's DNS server, so I apologize to those who've been trying to get through to the Gripe2ed website. But there's nothing like going through a few cold, powerless days to increase one's sympathy for those who endure lots of days like that. And it also spurs me to relate the experience of one reader whose efforts to help the less fortunate were hindered over the holiday season by Microsoft Vista.
"I am the Executive Director of a poverty agency that serves homeless families and low-income mentally disabled adults," the reader wrote. "I maintain one server and about 20 PCs which I built. In November I made the mistake of accepting the optional recommended updates on four computers that are my newest and most powerful, AMD x2 6000 systems with nVidia motherboards and video chipsets, all of which are running Vista Business. As these are my top desks, I give special attention to keeping these PCs up to date -- a big mistake when it comes to Microsoft updates. Before I realized it the Microsoft update system had rendered all of those PCs totally inoperable."
The reader's systems went down just as Thanksgiving was approaching, the busiest time of year for his organization. "The issue seemed to be that the updates not only patched Microsoft products, but actually updated hardware with what are claimed to be Microsoft-tested drivers," the reader wrote. "This is dangerous because Microsoft does not have a lot of competency in the hardware area. In this case, at least two incorrect hardware drivers were installed. One Microsoft tech support person I talked to let it slip that this had happened to others with nVidia hardware who had downloaded that update. By the next day, it was no longer happening, so I guess they updated the update."
In part, this was a case of what Microsoft giveth, Microsoft can taketh away. "Microsoft tech support instructed me to run the start-up repair tool on the Vista DVD," said the reader, whose organization gets Microsoft and other software through an in-kind donation program run by TechSoup. "Unfortunately, as a non-profit, I was sent a four-CD set that did not include a bootable disk with the utility. So I then had to go to the store and buy a DVD version of Vista. Using it, I was able to fix two of the PCs. Two were completely lost. Even the ones I saved had to be restored to a previous date. Some software had to be reinstalled and reauthorized."