Windows Vista Installation Experience…

We now have a fair collection of both 32bit and 64bit Windows Vista installations at work, with Vista Home Premium and Vista Business on laptops, and Vista Business on desktops. However today, for the first time, I came to install Vista from scratch onto a pre-existing machine which had been shipped with Windows XP.

My first observation is that the help text during the Installer from the DVD renders bullet points as Unicode ‘character not present in font‘ boxes. I know that this was the case with the Beta and even the initial release – but you’d have thought that they’d fix something simply like this by now…

Despite already being Vista SP1, there was still hundreds of megabytes in some 74-odd updates which were marked as “Important” and that Windows Update wanted to install. I set this going, after about an hour these had been pulled-down and installed. Windows wanted to reboot, at which point it took at least another thirty minutes saying that it was ‘Configuring updates‘. The machine rebooted, and a similar amount of time passed as it completed some further installation steps – whereupon it then informed me that “Updates were not configured correctly. Reverting changes.“… for about an hour. During this entire period, the machine could not be used. A further reboot and another “Configuring Updates” of less then five minutes, and I’m finally back to where I was before on the desktop – in what must now be two hours since it was last usable.

Going back in to Windows Update, the only remaining update – possibly the culprit? – appears to be “Update for Windows Vista (KB55430)“, an ‘Important‘ update. The Knowledge Base article for this update details no problems or fixes, simply that “This update is necessary to successfully install and to remove Windows Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2 on all versions of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. This update is not necessary to successfully install the service pack if you install the full file version of the service pack.“.

… so, after all of this time, I’ve been waiting for an update which isn’t actually necessary, and which only enables the installation of some as-yet unreleased software, to fail to install!

Update: On re-checking for updates, there are actually 41 updates outstanding totalling another 200Mb of data to download. Update 55430 now seems to have disappeared, and the prominent “Search” box at the top of the window actually searches for ‘Control Panel’ applets rather than for items within the list being displayed. On returning to the Windows Update applet, the “View available updates” button (which is styled to look like a hyperlink) no longer works – it underlines when hovered over, but no amount of clicking elicits a response.

Whilst attempting to fix it by running the “Check for updates” again, a new task-bar button appears. Clicking on it, a requester pops up telling me that Terminal Services has crashed. I choose to “Check online for a solution” and the requester disappears, never to be heard from again. It does not provide any online solutions, nor even open a browser window.

At least after re-loading the Windows Update applet, the “View available updates” button/link now works. Update 55430 is definitely not there. I decide to install the lot anyway, and on clicking “Install” am told that “An unidentified program wants to access your computer“, and that “Windows Update” is from an “Unidentified Publisher“.

I realise that Windows 7 is just around the corner, but has anyone at Microsoft actually tested their current OS from a usability perspective? None of these problems are show-stoppers, and they’re likely one-time installation issues and indeed largely cosmetic… but at the same time, they seem to indicate a general lack of attention – pretty unforgivable in the Business build of the OS.