May 232011

Patti has been using a Dell Inspiron 1720 for the past three years. I took at a look at a year or so ago; I made sure that it had up-to-date anti-virus software, upgraded the memory, ran all Windows updates, and set up automatic security updates. A month or so ago, Windows started complaining that it was no longer authentic. And then it started disabling features: the background became black, external drives no longer worked correctly, and the computer seemed to take longer and longer to start up.

Today, I worked for several hours trying to fix the problem. I was unable to figure out which specific patch interacted poorly with windows, so after three or four hours of troubleshooting I backed up Patti’s files and reinstalled from the recovery disk. I had been reluctant to reinstall, because Patti had also purchased Microsoft Word. We’re going to have to find those CDs to reinstall as well.

After reinstalling, the system appeared to be fine. I started to download the 300 MB of security updates (86 of 86), disabled the expired and antiquated anti-virus, and installed a modern anti-virus problem. After several hours of re-installation, the computer again started to report Windows Genuine Advantage validation problems.

I started chatting with Microsoft. We worked through around 15 minutes of troubleshooting before the connection died.

There appears to be another batch of 15 updates; I’m hoping that these updates fix the problem. It looks like the problem is caused by a Microsoft or Dell update that has moved a “protected” file from the expected location. However, even though Microsoft requires that files be in specific states and specific locations, the “protection” software does not give any easy way to see the offending application.

This has been a frustrating experience. The laptop was legitimately purchased; the Microsoft software was legitimately purchased. Why do they feel it’s okay for their software to break in this manner with little or no recourse?

 Posted by at 1:23 am

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