How I made Vista work better.

I hear it all the time – Dang Vista won’t work. They still get frustrated over printer failures, slow programs loading and just basic aggravation to it’s performance. But what’s more interesting is how I fix the problem – and make the program run 200% better.

It’s all about a piece of software that has been a thorn in my side for the last 10 years. Ever since Windows 98, this much needed software has taken a step too far in it’s installation, and when other software gets installed, this software fights with Windows. Worst part is this software expires, which causes more problems than you can imagine.


The latest machine was a HP AMD laptop. The printer spooler was failing. I was getting popups from the Information window because Symantec took over the Firewall. Then it rounded off with a renew subscription error.

Ultimately, all these errors would make the startup time a good 5 minutes. Yeah, you can start after the initial boot-up and sign-in, but as you are working, you are getting all these stupid windows saying there are problems, when in all reality it’s a program you rely on.

Someone gets a new machine and Hey! there’s an anti-virus software you can install. But it’s more than anti-virus. It’s a webscanner. It’s a email scanner. It’s an anti-phishing device . It’s a swiss army knife you can use in any way – until the 1 year trial expires. And then you will get upgrade notices – months in advance – to buy another year.

That is the worst part: this software expires and most procrastinate. Most people I know just pass off on the box and continue. Two to three months after expiration when I look at their machine, I am surprised they haven’t been infected with anything else.

This laptop had one other problem. Within the year that they purchased the machine, they also installed AVG anti-virus.

So for anyone to check email, get on the internet or whatever, they have to run through an expired Anti virus, then one that is working. That’s like sitting in the doctors office and when your name is called, you move to a second waiting room, in where you wait for your name to be called again.

I have been taking Symantec off computers for 10 years. And, yes. For 10 years I have also been removing McAffee. This bloatware is only causing problems, then the user doesn’t want to pay for an upgrade, therefore making the situation worse.

I agree – If you are not in a corporate environment, you should be able to get a basic Anti virus that will not charge you to download the latest definitions. That is why I install a lot of programs like AVG and Avast on machines. I still have to follow up with the customer because of the expiration of the registration keys.

Symantec software (or McAffee)  SHOULD NOT be on new machines. If anything, it should not be pre-loaded, but put on a CD that you physically have to insert and install. If you have to physically install the software, you understand it a little better than something you just have to “Activate”.

In my work, I have pretty much called Symantec more harmful than helpful. No matter what you throw at me in argument, I can bring back with “Yeah, but your software expires and causes more problems in computers”. No wonder people get annoyed with their machines. If I didn’t know about this, I would be swearing at my computer every time it loads.

If you have the software and it’s saying “Pay for another year”, then take some action. At least the un-install process isn’t as annoying as it used to be. I think with McAfee you still have to put in the password you created when you activated it. Hopefully you remember that.

I always say “Ignorance is no excuse”, but on the same token I can’t know everything. Otherwise I would be on Jeopardy answering Alex Trebek’s questions. Or is that asking questions to Alex Trebek’s answers…

About J Powers

Podcaster, Blogger, IT Specialist. Been working in IT for over 15 years. Supported Windows 95 upon initial Launch and have worked in desktop, server and Web site support roles. Started Geekazine in 2007 and launched 5 shows from it. Speaker on many topics in Podcasting and technology. Also a musician.

6 thoughts on “How I made Vista work better.

  1. I had very few issues with Vista and I first ran it in May 2007. My biggest issues where the video drivers, once I went toa ATI card it all worked out fine.
    I hate XP it’s so backwards. When I’m looking for a document or file the start search found it, and always worked far better than Google desktop or Copernic. (or spotlight on the Macs I ran, for that matter). XP booted faster than Vista but by SP1 most of the performance issues were fixed. XP was/is a security disaster I’d never recommend it anymore, and prior to SP2 it was joke.

  2. AMEN!
    Nice to see I’m not the only one that hates the crap that OEM’s put on those machines.
    They even dare to call it ‘software’.
    Even Microsoft is now doing this, just a few months ago i got a call from my sister, claiming she was not able to save a Word file she was working on for a school project.

    So I remote control to her machine and she could still open and edit the file, but the options to save and print have been grayed out. (wtf?!)
    Turns out: Microsoft Office 2007 trial, which had been pre-installed on the machine, had expired.

    Can you imagine having your sister or family/relative on the phone and explaining that the work they have been working on for so long and needs to be turned in the next day, can not be saved or printed because their software has expired?

    Good thing is, most OEM’s now offer PC’s and laptops without all these extra craplets.
    Sony got in to a big riot when they were offering ‘Fresh-start’ for the VAIO TZ and charging $50,- extra for a laptop without the extra software.
    Can you imagine: paying EXTRA for software you DON’T want?!

  3. Jeffrey,
    I agree up to a point. This week I already worked on two computers infected with fake anti virus software. One of the computers was running AVG and the other Avira. I cleaned and installed both a few months ago. When I asked the users what they did to get infected they did not know. I explained (again) what they should not be doing but I somehow doubt that they installed anything willingly. I am starting to doubt in AVG and Avira and I am actually hearing good things about Norton 2010. A week ago, a customer came to me asking for advice and insisted on purchasing an anti virus. I did some research and surprisingly Norton 2010 is getting great reviews. The customer purchased Norton 360, 3 user license for $38. So far everything works OK, we’ll see how it goes.

  4. GREAT post, Jeffrey. I have finally trained my family so that when they buy a new machine, before they EVER turn it on, I get to come over and have that privilege, so I can remove all this bloatware, which I would rather call an “infection.” I use AVG on all my personal machines, and my family’s personal machines. I make it as easy as possible for the user to update the definitions, and every couple or three months, on a regular family visit, I spend at least a few minutes taking a look at their machines to make sure they are up to date and running well.

    The everyday user does not know how harmful some of this bloatware is. My mom almost through her perfectly good ACER laptop out the window because she couldn’t figure out why things wouldn’t run (including her CD drive). She is in Florida, but I’ll see her in a month or so, I’m going to give that machine a good looking at.

Comments are closed.