Monday, April 6, 2009

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 condition of a $1,495.99 Hewlett Packard desktop computer that was essentially dead on arrival, or at least severely crippled?

The 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 get off the “information superhighway,” build a shack on Walden Pond, and wait for the first robin of spring. Or a vulture — anything 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 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 gigabyte hard drive and 6 GBs 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 there.

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 Internet.) 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 got 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


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