I already have my plans booked for the coming weekend. No, I am not going to take my kids to the park for some summer fun or check out "Hancock" at the theaters like I had planned.

Instead, I will probably be wiping my laptop of the last shreds of Windows Vista and reinstalling Windows XP Professional and trying to find all of the drivers I need to get everything working right again. No, it does not sound like a lovely weekend, but it is not like I didn't give Vista a chance.

My laptop actually came with Vista Business edition pre-installed, so I didn't exactly expect a lot of problems. I had the choice of leaving it the way that was or installing my corporate load of XP Pro, but being an early adopter and a beta tester has its advantages when you're in IT for a living. I should "eat some of my own dog food" I thought, assuming I planned to move my company's employees to Vista at some point in their professional lives.

The second time the PC booted, I got a warning message: "Windows Media Player has stopped working." A small button offered me the option of more information. I clicked it. It opined that Windows Media Player is a product of MICROSOFT CORPORATION and I should contact them for help. It hasn't worked since, more than a year later.

When Service Pack 1 came along, I was pretty full of hope, but the PC was only moderately faster and still much slower than my 4-year-old PowerBook, despite 2 GB of RAM and the latest goodies. The boot-up time was slower than my similar XP machines. The shutdown time often took more than a minute while Vista was doing something odd.

I could not connect to some share drives on my corporate network without using their fully qualified names. Other times, I could not connect to any shared resources at all after the computer went into standby and came back. The internal NIC would shut off periodically in an effort to save me energy, which is a nice touch, except when you're using it. Then it can get sorta annoying.

I disabled the constant warnings that I was going to launch nuclear missiles against the Russians if I changed a setting. The constant "are you SURE" warnings popped up by Vista certainly drove more than one person batty.

Finally, after more than a week of domestic travel, I have basically had it with Vista. I tried to connect to a couple of foreign printers and found no drivers and no hope of finding any. I tried to connect to a scanner at my sister's house. No drivers.

Vista may be pretty, but Microsoft has to fess up that they have released upon the IT world a product that few really want nor have the horsepower to adequately run. A 2 GB laptop should not be pokey — it should be a rocket.

So I will be reformatting this weekend. (And spare me the Linux letters ...I am too old to go fully geek.)


James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer repair firm, and tech columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. His e-mail address is jim@cyberdads.com.