November 3, 2009

Dear Windows XP

I call this: computers,mac,pc,tech — Posted by KP @ 5:27 pm

Hi, what’s up?

Sorry to bother you, as I know you are a highly complex operating system that is the result of decades of development by presumably the most brilliant minds in computing that money can buy, and I am just some girl with no formal training in computer science who is trying to do a clean install of Windows, but I need to tell you a few things.

My hard drive has two partitions

I’ll put this in really simple terms you can understand.
One, which you call drive C:, is formatted for NTFS, because I knew you’d like it. With a little help from my friends at Apple, they gave me this thing called Boot Camp, which helped me to install you, since my Macbook Pro doesn’t have a floppy drive. Boy was I glad they were around!

So you’re installed on drive C: (which I assumed would be something you’d be interested enough in knowing that I don’t have to tell you in a blog post).

There’s also another partition, which until now you have been calling drive F:. This is my Mac partition. It’s a lot bigger because that’s where I get actual work done. Anyway, you don’t need to know anything about that. It’s formatted in HFS+, which I know you don’t like, so I was hoping you’d just ignore it and we’d both be happy.

I needed to install SP3

I’m sure you were very excited to take advantage of whatever features it has, probably really obvious things that I wouldn’t believe weren’t in any earlier versions of XP if I bothered to look it up.

So I downloaded SP3, and you happily began installing it. You never asked me where to put it, and I didn’t expect you to, because hey, you’re not a bad OS, and I figured you knew the difference between an install of WindowsXP and well, anything else.
This is a bunny with a pancake on its head. It, also, is not a valid install of WindowsXP, and will not accept an upgrade to SP3:

So I thought you had this under control, but then you started giving me those error messages. And I started to think, “Why does Windows always do this? Why is it when I’m performing an installation that should have no conceivable way for the user to screw it up, does it say things like, ‘Cannot find file: xp_something_really_important_sounding_4226s.dll’?” And then you look at me, like I have it, like I’ve been hiding it from you.

I was disappointed in you. All I’ve done on this drive is install Windows, and continue installing Windows updates. How could you not know where this file is? There’s also this new thing called the Internet, which I know you know about cause I’ve been using it since 3.11, and maybe you could find the file there, since that’s where you got this whole service pack from anyway. But no, you just expected me to have it.

So I did a google for it. And I happened to find one result that was talking about getting the error while installing Boot Camp. And you know what I found? In that case it was because you were trying to install SP3 on the user’s Mac partition.

So while I was hitting “cancel” in every place I could find it while simultaneously shaking my other index finger and saying, “oh no, you d’in’t!”, I noticed a progress display in one of your many redundant install windows showing you nonchalantly trying to uninstall files from drive F:, thinking I wouldn’t notice, and you could tell me it must have been some virus I have that screwed up the install, right? And then you could pop up that little shield again in my taskbar, cause, you know, dismissing it multiple times a day for years wouldn’t give you the hint that I don’t want antivirus software slowing down the OS that doesn’t contain any data valuable enough to need protecting.

What the hell were you thinking?!

What ever possessed you to think that volume had anything on it you could use?
Was it formatted in a file system you can run Windows on?
Did it currently have anything resembling Windows on it?
Was there another drive, perhaps named C:, (cause I know for you that tends to mean it’s the primary hard drive, but maybe you just call it that because you like the letter C) that you could also have used?
Does this suspicious-looking drive C: contain an install of Windows?
Is it possible it’s the very drive and installation of WindowsXP that you’re currently running in??
Did it occur to you that maybe that’s where you should be installing SP3?!?

In Conclusion

My friends over at Apple actually have a knowledgebase article about this. Their solution is different than the one I used (which was to disable the drive letter for the Mac partition while installing SP3). Either way, maybe you could pass this on to the next hapless person who tried to accomplish anything with you.

And lest you think I’m ungrateful, thanks for not being Vista.