Just yesterday, I have to downgrade the two Sony Vaio we bought from Windows Vista to Windows XP. The two Sony Vaio we got are top-of-the-range models, so expensive that I got a kind reminder that we have a limited budget.
I thought reinstallation is going to be a bliss. Pop in the Windows XP downgrade DVD and puff… I should get a working XP installation in say, 1 hour top. After all, we know that XP downgrade is still very common, and the computer is a “consumer grade” product, and it is not only a Sony but top of the range Sony.
The final count? 3 hours per computer from start to end.
The downgrade DVD quality is just bad, extremely bad. Rather than fully install the whole operating system and customize the drivers etc fully for the notebook in one step. The installation of XP just put the bare-metal XP on it. One then need to dive into the CD to install the bare basic drivers to get Vaio to connect to the internet. The sound isn’t working, the bluetooth not working. In short, at this stage, you get an crazily expensive server with internet connection and no more.
Then you have to connect to Sony website to download not one, but two zip files. No, its not just unzip and execute the installer. You need to follow instruction given to you on the website. In all, you need to run around the download zip packages, clicking one installer after another and go into “Device Manager” to install those that does not have installer. Then, one-by-one, you get sound, bluetooth etc…
At the end of the day what do I get? A Windows XP computer that I still have to connect to Microsoft to download patches to keep it uptodate, and download other softwares expected of a modern computer, individually I must add.
What do I learn from this experience? Never attempt it again. Get someone else to do it.
Let’s admit it. What effectively happens is Sony sold me a very expensive white box with all the components inside and expects me to install XP on it. It provides a step-by-step guide. The guide is reasonably accurate but do need computing expertise to interpret it correctly and with confidence. In other words, the only difference between getting it from Sony or getting a customized from my local computer shop is my local computer shop cannot give me a step-by-step guide to install the software.
What if I wanted Linux instead? I simply have to pop in a Linux distribution into the DVD drive, I will have a fully functioning computer in under one hour. One more hour and an internet connection means I would had updated my installation with latest patches and installed all the software I need. Not only did I save time, I need not devote my full attention to clicking buttons to get things going. I simply tell the computer I want, then let it gets on with it.
What this show us is that the fact that most of the time Windows come out-of-the-box means everyone is unaware of the effort needed to get a working Windows computer. A lot of people were under the impression that Windows is easy to install. I did not expect window installation to be easy, but I did not expect it to be so hard either. In fact, my experience shows that the lack of need to make sure most users can install Windows means Windows installation procedure falls behind Linux very badly.
It is a valuable experience, but one I don’t care to repeat. Did I have to do it? Unfortunately for me, yes. I need to know whether we have the expertise at work to do a downgrade. My conclusion is we don’t, unless the manufacturer give us a step-by-step guide. Even then, we need someone reasonably clue up with computers to do it.