Never trust Mr. Softy

Vox has a long and quite hilarious rant up about the trials and tribulations of trying to get Skype to work on Windows 7 once Microsoft comes along and updates (read: borks) it:
Apple pens in its users, domesticates them, and milks them, but at least it treats them nicely and makes them feel good about themselves. Microsoft is like a big, fat ex-boyfriend who shows up at his former girlfriend's apartment drunk and unannounced, insists on having sex, then throws up in her bed after passing out. It's more than just the regret one feels after being forced to deal with Windows, it's the time one has to spend to clean everything up afterwards. 
Now, Spacebunny runs Windows 7, and in the course of daily events she made the rookie mistake of allowing Skype to update itself. Naturally, the update immediately caused Skype to stop working on her machine. She tried a few things and then turned the matter over to me because I so enjoy trying to work around Microsoft's idea of making the interface easier. The problem is a fairly common one and is described here by one of the many people who have run into this problem: 
"Every time I try to download the newest version of Flash Player, I get an error message stating that I have insufficient user permissions. I am using Windows 7, it's my home computer, I am the administrator (I know because I checked) and no one else uses my computer. I've done everything I can (including creating a new Admin account - still didn't work)." 
None of the suggested fixes worked. So, I went through all the various suggestions I could find online, including those on the Microsoft Forum. Most of them were entirely worthless. Seriously, I want to punch the fat, self-satisfied power users who that telling people how to click through the relevant dialogue boxes is a legitimate answer. But the problem obviously isn't people not knowing how to use the operating system, since many of the messages clearly indicate we're dealing with people who know what administrator status is, the problem is that clicking through the obvious dialogue boxes doesn't freaking work!

I did all the obvious things. I even downloaded a special program to unlock the folder, which unlocked the folder but still didn't grant whatever privileges were deemed necessary to simply delete the damned file. Logging in as an administrator didn't work, creating a new administrator didn't work, running the installer as an administrator didn't work, unlocking the folder didn't work, absolutely nothing worked. Even Markku couldn't figure out how to fix the problem within a Microsoft paradigm short of reinstalling Windows. That being said, he did come up with the ultimate answer from the start, which is often apt when one is dealing with a Microsoft product: the first step is to tell Microsoft to fuck off. 
Let me explain. The core problem is that the newer Microsoft operating systems do something incredibly stupid. In order to navigate all the complex crap that now surrounds diverse aspects of the increasingly crufty operating system, many installation programs now create a virtual administrator that has control over the various files and directories being used during the installation process. This virtual administrator does not exist, and by virtue of not existing, is not synonymous with any of the actual human administrators who actually use the computer. 
Perhaps you already see the intrinsic problem there. If something goes wrong during the installation or update process, the real administrators do not have access to the files that were under the control of this nonexistent administrator. The real admin can see what's there, but he can't do anything about it. He doesn't have access and he can't give himself access. And if that protected file or folder is one that is required by an application installer that has somehow gone haywire, the user is screwed and will not be able to reinstall or use that application without either restoring a previous OS state or completely reinstalling Windows.
Vox's solution to this godawful bloody mess is pretty much the same one I've used in the past for dealing with assorted Windows-related stupidity: create a Linux USB boot stick and then use that to delete the offending file and directory, then reinstall the program. It's depressing that things have come to this point, but that's literally the simplest way to do things in Windows 7 and (Lord help us) Windows 8.

I've been a Linux user for over 5 years now. I started out using Mandriva (a paid distribution that's really basically Red Hat with a fresh coat of paint slapped on it), then switched to Ubuntu after a few months because Mandriva/Mandrake Linux just didn't do everything I wanted. These days I use a derivative of Ubuntu called Mint, which is even better. And all I can say is that the problems that Vox has outlined are depressingly familiar to anyone who's used a Windows version higher than XP.

Using Linux is an eye-opening experience. You would think that the command-line is intimidating, but I have to tell you that I actually find it far easier to get things done using shell commands than I do in Windows 8's bloody awful layout. In fact, I recently had to help my mum sort out her wireless connection because for some reason her laptop kept going on the fritz when connecting to the router, yet for the life of me I COULD NOT figure out how to setup a new wireless connection under Windows 8. In Windows XP, or in your average Ubuntu-derived distribution, it's a doddle. The amazing thing about Linux is, you can make a decent PC with decent specs dance using Linux- there are packages available that will turn your Linux box into a rival for a Mac in terms of appearance and look/feel. And there is no longer any comparison to Windows in terms of ease of use; a Linux system like Ubuntu or Mint, running a GNOME 3 or KDE shell, is far easier to use than Windows 8, by miles.

I used to be a big MSFT fanboy, back in the day. That was before I tried the godawful abortion of a system that was Windows Vista. Nowadays, it's Linux all the way for me, unless I absolutely have to use a Windows virtual machine, or dual-boot into my XP installation for certain games (STARCRAFT!!!). I recommend you do the same, and ditch that miserable, malware-ridden, corpulent excuse for an operating system that we call "Windows" as soon as you can.


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