Vista: 150 problems, 0 solutions

Microsoft likes to boast that Vista is better than ever at logging difficulties with software and suggesting solutions through its Problem Reports and Solutions feature — but for an OS that’s been in final release for six months the number of actual solutions is a tad on the minimal side. Here’s the sorry evidence of what actually happens when you try and get Vista to heal itself. This is a true story and none of the names have been changed.

Would you like some assistance?: This sounds like a perfectly reasonable offer and it would be good to know why my machine is crashing slightly more frequently than its XP predecessor.

You certainly have some issues:: 150 problems on a two-month old installation? To be frank that doesn’t inspire confidence. But let’s go ahead.

But wait there’s more!: After grinding through seven-score-and-ten problems Microsoft wants additional permission to send information about seven of them. Why bother re-checking?
Size matters: A-ha that’s why. Uploading 39MB of data is not something you’d want to casually undertake but we’ll press on. Post-compression this went down to 3MB which is still rather large. Warning to dial-up users: don’t try this at home.

And the winner is: After logging the 150 problems Vista happily tells me that the number of solutions it has found is . . . none.

Yep that’s right none at all. Glad to know I wasted a quarter of an hour on that process. However there is one intriguing suggestion: a hard disk drive error. Let’s check that out. (The other ‘new’ option “This problem is being researched” is shorthand for “We have no solution and no plans to release one right now.”)

Desk drive: None of this is very helpful but Microsoft’s suggestion that I should check my “hard desk” for errors is an interesting one. Don’t they have a spelling and grammar checker lying around somewhere?

Note also the catch-all cop-out “steps that might or might not prevent the problem from recurring”. This is so annoying I think I’ll click on the Provide Feedback button and complain.

D’oh!: Or maybe I won’t. Based on this I certainly won’t be running Problem Reports and Solutions again for a while.