There's no doubt remaining in my mind: Microsoft Windows Vista, in any flavor, must
"die," must go away, must cease to exist, and the sooner, the better.
How else to explain the arrival of a $1,495.99 Hewlett Packard desktop computer
which was essentially "dead" on arrival, or at least severely crippled? The
brand-spanking-new HP Pavilion Elite m9600t fired up quite nicely but choked
on the latest Beta of Apple's Safari 4 Web browser, setting off a chain of
unstoppable hiccups. I could only resolve these by slapping on a copy of the Windows
7 Beta software, which is a 32-bit version now running on a new Intel Core i7 920
processor, one of the top models out now, and capable of running 64-bit software.
Problem is, however, that the 64-bit Windows Vista Ultimate was a dog that wouldn't
hunt, as they say down South.
In a few months, if all goes well, Microsoft will rev up the marketing machine and
trot out Windows 7 as the new-new thing to have. Perhaps they'll select Lady GaGa
as the spokeswoman, or have Jerry Seinfeld come up with a cute commercial,
But something needs to be done, and soon, as I said. Windows Vista is enough to make
the most hardened info-hound unplug from the "information superhighway," build a
shack over on Walden pond, and wait for the first robin of spring. Or a vulture -
a carrion would be preferable to Vista.
Now to the Pavilion Elite desktop computer, a "tower" model with extra bays for
media drives and the like. There's a Blu-Ray disc player and DVD/CD burner with HP's
"Light Scribe" technology, allowing you to "burn" a disc label on compatible
media. The expansion bay is for internal device installation, I'm guessing; you can
also add HP's "pocket" media drive and more substantial media drive hard discs
in separate locations. All this should provide a fair amount of data storage and/or
backup, especially since there's an "HP Easy Backup" button on the front of the
computer. Presumably, that function went away when I scrubbed Vista. It's still not
worth the gamble.
And that, dear reader, is the paradox presented with HP's new desktop tower. It's
certainly a seemingly powerful machine, and even at just under $1,500, a good enough
value for someone who has tasks that require its power, which includes a 750
Ggiabyte hard drive and 6 Gbytes of RAM. However, because the 64-bit Windows Vista
software was buggy and unreliable - out of the box, brand-new, I was presented
with a "Windows didn't shut down correctly" screen asking if I wanted to boot in
"safe mode" - much of the functionality advertised with the computer wasn't
This might be an anomaly, and I suppose that if I wanted to invest several hours
with tech support, or in re-installing the "original" operating system, etc.,
from the internal hard drive's backup partition, I might have fared better. But, why
should I have to do this? Why should anyone?
With a bit of effort, I'm fairly sure I could install a Linux configuration that
would give me access to most of the functionality HP's offering here under Vista,
and for little or no cost. Let 12 months pass, maybe only six, and perhaps almost
all the functionality would be available. I could also, probably, "hack" this
machine and/or a copy of Apple's Macintosh OS X, to take full advantage of the
computing power in the Pavilion Elite m9600t. (Apple won't like me saying that, but
how-to information on accomplishing such "hacks" can be easily found on the
This doesn't augur well for Microsoft, which I believe will face a substantial
challenge with Win7, an operating system which, I must say, impresses me greatly.
It's gotta be flawless, it'll have to work in a wide variety of hardware
configurations, and it can't offer any surprises, hiccup-wise.
If I'm going to spend $1,500 (not including monitor) for a computer such as this, I
won't be too happy if I end up pitching it out the window.
You can learn more about the Pavilion Elite m9600t at http://tinyurl.com/dngvmo