New computers – Windows 7 – compatibility (1)

Windows 7 is not compatible with anything before Vista.  (I refused to have Vista in the house, so I have no idea about whether Win7 and Vista are compatible.)  If your artsy friends are bugging you to get a Mac, or your geek friends are bugging you to get Linux, and you have been limping along with Windows XP, and are now desperately in need of a new computer (all of which applied to me), then go along with whichever set of friends will give you the most help, and switch.  It’ll be easier than trying to figure out how to make Windows 7 work the way you’ve been used to.

That’s an overstatement, of course, but not much of a one.

First off, you’ll have to throw out all your previous software.  I tend to stick with computers for too long, and with software for too long.  At least, that would be the position of software vendors.  I figure a) if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and b) why should I have to spend a lot of time learning the mixed up new interface that some idiot down in marketing thought would be kewl, and try to find the functions that I need down where they have buried them.  (Often I find that the stuff I really need is completely gone.)

Think I’m kidding?

I use Firefox.  No particular problem there.  Except that Mozilla wanted me to install 5.0.1, after I’ve been used to 3.6.18 for a while.  And I only then realized that I had no idea how to move the bookmarks over to my new system.  I have no idea where Firefox puts them.  Now, under the previous versions of Firefox, it was pretty good about using any sets of settings you might have lying around, including old bookmarks files.  Now it’s gotten fussy.  Of course, now Firefox has a new Sync feature.  That’ll probably help in future, but it’s not much use right now. (Yes, I’m reading up on how to use it in the old version, and, yes, I’ll probably be able to get everything across.  Eventually.)  (And, besides, all of this is Mozilla’s fault, and I know you are eager for me to get on with the Microsoft bashing.)

So, Firefox works (wonder of wonders).  I use a mail program called Pegasus, which, with a little care and attention on installation, also works.

I also use Netscape 4.8.  (Actually Communicator 4.8, but …)  Yes, I know, old tech.  But, it is a very safe browser, especially with JavaScript turned off, and, as a malware researcher, I have occasion to look at some pretty dangerous places.  Also, it uses the old bookmark.htm file, which is really handy for managing and transfering my collection of bookmarks.  The installer will not run in Win7.

(Yes, I researched the problem, and, yes, somebody mentioned SeaMonkey.  Interface is very similar, I grant you, but I can’t find out where they keep the bookmarks.)

(Also, Windows 7 initially choked big time trying to run the installation.)

My wife likes the simplicity (and I like the safety) of Eudora.  Version 1.5.2.  Doesn’t run.

For both programs I have tried the “Troubleshoot compatibility” option.  I bought, and paid extra for, Windows 7 Pro specifically because it was “compatible” with WinXP.  I tried the “recommended” settings, which supposedly ran in-or-as WinXPSP2.  I tried the manual troubleshooting, telling it that the programs ran just fine under Win95/98/NT/2K/XP and/or 2003.  They didn’t run under any compatibility mode.

And, of course, don’t even bother to try and run any DOS or other command-line utilities.  (Even using “Run as administrator.”)

(Using utilities that mess with internals is one area where you don’t expect compatibility.  So I was surprised, and very pleased, to note that the Frhed hex editor works just fine under Win7, particularly after all the other problems I had.)

Some of these problems can be overcome, or worked around, using Windows Virtual PC XP Mode.  More on the trials of that, later

Ceterum censeo Microsoft esse delendam.

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