Congratulations new owner! You travelled down to your local superstore and handed over your hard-earned cash for that computer you’ve had your eye one with the kick! Ass! Nvidia! Graphics! Card! You’ve sat down with the sales person and he told you about the various accessories pacakges, so you picked a printer, a scanner and a digital camera. He threw in a bale of paper for free – what a nice guy! Possibly you’ve purchased the extended warranty as well, as you know the sorts of virus’ and hackers that might break into your machine in the dead of night and swap wires around. Better be safe, eh? Then you proudly drove home and pulled all of the new-smelling components from their packaging. After a little fiddling with cables and plugs, you have it all set up on your desk ready and waiting to be used. Filled with trembling anticipation you hit the power button…
…and in an anti-climatic moment it all works! Awesome! You go through the setup screens, add yourself as a user and then get dropped into your Windows desktop for the first time. You play around with it for a little bit and check out all the applications: The office software, the games, the photo suites and maybe you’ll go online to check your email. And you sit back satisfied…
…and do something wholly and inexplicably stupid like reinstalling Windows on it. You pop in the Windows XP Professional CD you got from a friend of a friend, as you’ve heard its better than “normal” Windows, go through the setup process, once again go through the tasks of adding users (why? Didn’t you just do that?) and as you get dropped to your desktop for the second time, you notice that something is wrong! There’s no friendly chime when you log in – there’s no sound at all for that matter! – the colours look all weird and windows are choppy, the icons for Office and Photoshop have vanished and when you try to go online you discover that your broadband doesn’t work.
What in blazes? Thinking quickly, you assume something has broken and you take the machine back into the store, only for the scruffy-looking geek to tell you that as you’ve broken the PC, the store is under no obligation to fix it for you. Then you get angry…
I run into this kind of scenario a few times a month: People buy a PC and then install a different version of Windows for whatever reason. Some have better reasons than others, such as immigrants who will install their native language version which is completely understandable and some people just seem to do it for shits and giggles. I recall one person wiping off XP Home from their machines, only to install XP Home. Why?
“Oh, I didn’t like the theme and wanted to make it the blue one..”
The problem I have is not that they want to change their OS: I regularly use Gentoo, XP and OS X at home. The problem is that they haven’t a fucking clue what they are at and then get angry when I try to explain that while we can’t fix the problem in-store, nor provide drivers, I can point them to where they can get them.
“I need software for my computer! I can’t find it anywhere on the net!”
“Did you check the manufacturers website?”
“Yes, there was nothing there at all!”
“Okay, look here…”
I then go to the website, enter the machine’s serial number and find a page with a download of every single driver for the machine that you care to think of.
“It wasn’t there earlier!”
I never expect people to have the sort of geek know-how that I’ve picked up, but its reasonable to expect that they know something about computers. After all, would you buy a brand new car and then sit in it on the dealer’s driveway for five minutes before you got out and somewhat embarassedly ask them to show you how to drive it? No!