Microsoft Strikes Again

As I have been forced to admit on a number of occasions, I still have a Win XP machine. It’s a refurbished Dell Optiplex, and I keep it around because there are some things that can only be done on a Win box. This is deliberate. It’s called vendor lock-in, and the civilized world moved past that idea sometime in the last century.

I keep the WinBox religiously updated and patched, and run an active AV program. It has, so far, met my simple needs. Until today.

Last Tuesday was, of course, Patch Tuesday, a day most sysadmins prefer to spend under their beds. As usual, there was a monster download, and as usual, it required a reboot.

Reboot, wait, get a flash of the Win logo and Intel logo and the BIOS instructions, get a flash of the Win XP logo and progress bar. Then all is blackness. Monitor still getting a signal. HDD chattering its little heart out. Nothing on the screen.

Reboot doesn’t help. Power cycle doesn’t help. Reboot with f8 doesn’t help (subliminal flash of the boot choice screen with the choice bar near the bottom, then nothing). [insert several hours of increasingly frustrated efforts]. Nada.

Interestingly, the printer function still works, and I can print from my Linux box to the printer attached to the XP machine. So it has something to do with the display.

So, I broke out a more modern monitor than the one that came with the Optiplex (both are VGA, though). And it works. Why doesn’t the other one? Who knows? If one were given to conspiracy theories, one might think that Microsoft has found a way to trash older setups, so that we will all be forced to move to a new computer with Win 7 (or even Win 8, AKA Vista 2). You know, in their proud “the job isn’t done until Lotus won’t run” tradition.

Either that or they just don’t care.

Two hours out of my life that I won’t soon see again. Thanks, Microsoft. You’re a princ.

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