I had two experiences that were like the play Waiting for Godot – Samuel Becketts classic waiting for something to happen while life continues and even manages to slip away.
First one. A colleague has stuck faithfully with Windows to do high-end video editing and development work. He was rewarded a few years back when Adobe went exclusively to the Windows platform abandoning Mac for its premium Premier Pro video editor. Evan has had a running battle getting the right drivers for the peripherals and specialized software he uses on both platforms. The move from Windows 2000 to Windows XP was traumatic but he could see what Mac colleagues had to endure with their OS and underlying hardware changes. So Evan stuck to his Windows guns.
About 6 months ago, Evan was in Windows heaven – he had managed to make the move to Media Center XP and get all his drivers and software ported over with minimal problems. I was relieved too. Let me tell you this was after years of helping Evan get this software running or that driver problem fixed – always for a cup of coffee or the dinner with Cheryl that has never quite…
So I was a bit leery of the frantic call I got from Evan this past week. He had just landed a major contract and had gone out and bought a new Vista laptop so he would have the portability and processing power to get the job done. But when he tried to install his software set and especially his peripherals – “Nothing works! You have got to help.”
After the dust settled and the problem was resolved by getting a supernotebook but with MediaCenter XP version of Windows- here is what we had discovered. Evan had tried to go out and buy a fully loaded notebook with Windows XP Media Center edition. But not at BestBuy, Futureshop, Circuit City and all the PC shops on College street was there a notebook with Windows XP in any edition to be found. All the shops in Toronto town (and I suspect most of North America if not the World) are selling Windows Vista and all its peripheral driver and software incompatibility problems. Yes, over time some of these problems will be eliminated but not likely for some of the older peripherals (especially the classic ones Evan holds near and dear to heart).
Evan was deeply hurt. I was surprised. “Evan you know you are in a PC business in which the hardware and software are constantly evolving. The change is rapid – vendors are strapped with ever thinner margins. They have to choose carefully what software and especially peripherals and drivers to update. You know that. Over time your choices will change and heaven knows you may buy a damned Mac.”
But this night Evan was unconsolable. He had talked to Bill Gates and Bill had assured him that Windows would support the most applications and peripherals and would be the desktop OS to use. Bill used to come to the Toronto Winter Computer show every year during the late 1980s and early 90s. And Evan took Bills word. He had prospered but also he had endured because it was always the next edition that would support all the graphic and audio drivers and software he wanted. But Evan stuck with Windows – a hard row to hoe with reliability then scalability and finally the string of security problems. But Evan had gotten everything just right 6 months ago with Windows XP Media Center edition. And now it was all taken away – rattle, rattle, rattle – with Windows Vista being the only Windows software Evan could buy with his new PC.
The second Waiting for Godot event occurred during the first. Evan made a call to Windows Vista and then HP support about a peripheral and its drivers. Each support staff said call the other to get the problem resolved. Rattle, rattle, rattle.