Mid December we eventually decided to buy new hardware. Not to replace our computer, but because we needed a second one for a different location. There are quite a few stores around town to shop for computer hardware. However, we got the impression that only a few brands are effectively competing these days. Our computer at home is an HP Pavillion. We paid around 60,000 baht for it 3 years ago, about double of the price you pay nowadays for a somewhat more powerful system. Anyway, we decided to buy another HP Pavillion, and went to IT City at Pantip Plaza. We actually went to Fortune Town first, but it clearly looked as if the sales persons there were not really interested in selling anything.
We got lucky and found a new model at Pantip Plaza, which seemed to be very reasonably priced and well equipped (HP Pavillion a63851 Home PC, with Intel Core 2 Duo E6550, 2 GB memory, 320 GB Harddisk, NVidia Geforce, and a lightscribe equipped DVD-writer). It did not come with a proper operating system or any meaningful booklet however. Without a monitor and operating system, the price was just 22,500 baht.
Since we preferred to stick with Windows XP Professional, we bought an OEM copy from the same store (and same salesperson) and choose to install it ourself at home.
That is when the problems started. Windows gave a message that it did not really want to install on the new computer. Rather than proceeding further, we elected to go back to the store and have it installed there. We could never really contact the person who sold us the computer and Windows software, but were directed to the 'Service Center', where technicians attempted to install the Windows XP operating system. Unfortunately, this did not work. It appeared that the OEM version of Windows XP Professional did not accept the harddisk on the HP Pavillion model we purchased. Quite a surprise since we assumed that OEM version were actually a complete version, however with restrictions on how and where it could be installed.
Communications about this problem were a bit cumbersome and lengthy. Apparently, we could decide to change the harddisk (?) or buy a 'complete version' of Windows XP Professional somewhere, then use our license number on the OEM software we bought, to register our Windows operating system. Let's just say that was how we understood it, but we were not really actually officially advised to buy a pirated copy for this purpose. What was disturbing is that the whole process took an awful lot of time, and the technicians were walking about doing things, talking to each other in a rather chaotic way, not really giving adequate information about what they were doing and why it took so much time.
When we were informed somehow that the problem mentioned above could be solved by installing Windows Vista Ultimate (OEM version) instead of Windows XP Professional, we decided to go for that option. Of course, we had to pay a bit extra, but were in a way happy that it was possible to exchange the software for an 'upgrade' to Windows Vista, although we did not want to use that software to begin with. Surely there might be problems re-installing our existing software programs, not to mention our ADSL connection. When this was settled we wanted to go home (quite exhausted by that time), although they rather too eagerly wanted to install Windows Vista themselves (not clear what that was all about). However, we did have to wait for about another hour, just to get a copy of a 4MB file, with a driver we may or may not need to run our ADSL service (Lan-driver).
All this begs the following questions :
Why does Windows XP Professional OEM not run when a certain harddisk drive is installed on a computer?
Why does HP sell its computer without any proper Windows software (or Linux for that matter) installed. If Windows is installed, it invariable is Vista Starter of Vista Home. Why not simply have the option as a customer to buy a computer with the software we prefer, and have it available or easily installed?
Why was the sales staff at IT City not aware of the incompability between the HP Pavillion and Windows XP Professional we bought, and sold us the Windows operating system, well knowing I was going to install it on the HP Pavillion in question?
The most disturbing fact however was the way all this was handled. The amount of to and froing in the service center was unsettling, like they could not just sit down for a few minutes, concentrate on the problem, and solve it. This was at the main IT City outlet at Pantip Plaza. We have used IT City outlets for buy various computer accessories. It always looked most suitable to us, maybe things are a bit more expensive than in the smaller numerous shops at Pantip Plaza or Fortune Town. But we were always feeling that in case something went wrong, there would be an adequate service department and no problems with warranty, since IT City is a rather large computer software and hardware company, even listed on the Thai Stock Exchange. But things can obviously go wrong, and it is actually a hassle to have them fixed.
Follow up two weeks later :
There was no problem whatsoever in installing Windows Vista Ultimate. Almost all of my old programs can run on the new software. However, I still try to figure out what it is all about. Personally, I can not see major differences with Windows XP. The transparency feature does not give exactly any overwhelming feelings.
What is most annoying that everytime I want to open one of my applications, I need to give repeated permissions, kind of a lot of extra mouse clicks. When turning this feature off, some dire warnings are given about security issues. There seem to be user/administrator issues, and one day I will be forced to look into these issues. Not completely a user-friendly area. Actually, to put it bluntly, the security settings and the 'giving permissions' choices are utterly complicated and not intuitive. As the sole user of our computer, it is really weird that each program can be used and opened (with permission) by a multitude of potential users, all with different (and confusing) names.
One program that we did not manage to set up is the Internet Information Services Manager, it seems to be quite impossible to do so without spending hours and hours checking different settings, giving 'permissions'. A shameful display of user-unfriendly software indeed.