Yesterday was an extraordinary day, but not because of anything that happened. As days go, this Monday was relatively uneventful. Rather, it's what didn't happen -- and hasn't happened in a while -- that made the day so unusual.
I had just spent the better part of Sunday afternoon prepping my primary development workstation for the coming year's new projects. As I sat there sipping my morning coffee and skimming through the Boston Globe's coverage of the latest Patriots debacle (Wes Welker gone for the year!), I realized something was missing. I took a particularly long draught from my mug, rubbing the fog away from my eyes. And then it hit me.
It was drama that was missing from my morning ritual: The drama of having wrestled with yet another Windows install-from-scratch; of hunting for device drivers and fixing program incompatibilities; of finishing the job but still feeling like something just wasn't quite right with the whole setup.
The difference this time, I realized, was Windows 7. For whatever reason, setting up Windows 7 -- even on the bare iron of a fairly sophisticated (that is, with lots of obscure, high-end hardware) workstation -- was a breeze. Contrast this with my previous experiences and you begin to see why today was indeed a special day.
Windows NT: Setting up a Windows NT workstation was always a hit-or-miss proposition. Many common devices, like nonstandard IDE hard disk controllers, though perfectly happy under DOS/Windows 9x, would give Windows NT fits.
Any such reinstallation project usually required several days and involved at least one bricked attempt where a driver hosed the boot cycle and the Last Known Good Configuration option somehow lost it bearings. This was especially true when you added any number of unsupported third-party mobile power management tools into the mix.