Solving Vista Problems Sometimes Creates More Problems

Bill Weber has been watching the YouTube videos for a while – and he felt compelled to write me about his experiences with Windows Vista:

Thanks for all the fun moments from the Help-a-Thons and providing YouTube fodder for years to come. Some moments are truly memorable, and I don’t just mean those where you are answering questions! *laughs* I’m glad you’re still continuing to help people with their technical issues.

While I’m on the subject, I wanted to comment on Windows Vista. Unfortunately, I bought a new computer instead of building my own, and it had Vista Home Premium installed. After using XP and giving Microsoft enough time (so I thought) to work out the kinks in the new OS, I thought I’d try it. Boy… is it fragile! When faced with a bad program installation or conflicting software issues, it just turned into “Vista Whack-a-Mole.” Solve one problem, three more crop up. I had the infamous “no network – server execution failed” error. This causes a red “X” over the network icon in the system tray, although connecting to the internet proceeds more-or-less normally. Apparently people have been experiencing this issue since February, and attibute it to AOL / AIM software. I use AOL proper, and had few problems with it in XP.

Microsoft has never responded to this issue, and the only workaround users could come up with was to elevate localhost or localgroup (depending on the Vista version) to the Administrators group, causing a huge security hole. In addition to this problem, I was experiencing hangs on shutdown, three minute waits for the “available disks” box to refresh in System Restore, and failure to create restore points about 70% of the time. Indeed, I couldn’t even install the drivers and software for my SoundBlaster audio card, presumably because every time Vista attempted to create a restore point, it would hang, and wait until the restore point timed out before proceeding, causing installation to take HOURS.

In attempting to fix these problems, I also lost my TV card…i.e., Windows Media Center would not record or show “live TV” stating “your card could not be found/is not installed.” No amount of reinstalling drivers or anything else would fix that, which was the last straw. I re-installed Vista from scratch, and haven’t restored all my programs yet. I’m most fearful of installing Norton Systemworks and the ZoneAlarm suite. I know Symantec states these programs will not work together, but if one installs ZoneAlarm AFTER Systemworks, they’ll work side-by-side with little problem…at least they DID for a while.

Personally, I like the ZoneAlarm software, having used it for years, and also like the WinDoctor element of Systemworks. I don’t know of any other registry checker that allows the user to MANUALLY choose (or just skip) a registry “fix.” I apologize if this is the wrong method of asking a question (and I don’t really expect an e-mailed reply; I’m just throwing it out there) but: regarding Vista, what registry checker and antivirus program combination would you recommend? I was never thrilled with Norton AV, so I really didn’t want to go completely with Symantec. I’m just sorry I spent money on two programs that are incompatible with each other. I downloaded Systemworks, so it’s not like I can just run the Symantec products from disk without installing them. Symantec also invades every area of your OS with their product (LiveUpdate services, startup config entries); I was looking for something a bit less invasive that doesn’t require a special program to “clean up” their sloppy uninstall, which Symantec is well-noted for.

So… Vista stinks and is very fragile, and I don’t think Microsoft is supporting it as they should. I’m backing up every time I install any major program, which is a pain and TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE all because of a flawed OS. I’d like to continue to use ZoneAlarm suite as my antivirus and anti-spyware program, but need a good registry checker which allows a lot of MANUAL control over the “errors” it finds. Too many just “fix” supposed registry errors willy-nilly, causing more problems than leaving said items alone, especially with Vista. If you reply, just a few words and/or links would be sufficient. Thanks so much for your time.