Vista Registration Annoyances

I had hoped that these three entries chronicling my troubles with installing Release Candidate 1 of Microsoft's Vista operating system would mark the last of the annoyances I'd encounter, but that wasn't to be. My new problem: registration.

Vista would nag me time and again: “You have to register this software, otherwise it's going to stop running! You have x days left!” As Murphy's Law would have it, the OS would always nag me when I had something more important to do.

The period during which I could run Vista without registering with the mother ship in Redmond passed while I was away at ISPCON. When I returned, my PC desktop greeted me with a dialog box telling me that if I wanted to use the computer again, I would have to register. I clicked the button to start the registration process, and that's where the trouble began.

“You are not connected to the internet,” said a dialog box. This wasn't true: I'd been using the machine to surf the net before I left, and I hadn't changed any settings nor any of the cabling leading to the machine.

I decided to be thorough and eliminate the obvious culprits first. I took the network cable from the PC and plugged it into my PowerBook, and I was still able to connect to the net. I checked to see that the ports on my network switch were working, and they were. After going through a few more simple checks and fiddling with the cables, the only conclusion I could come to was that the machine was in fact connected to the net and that Vista just didn't realize it.

One of the options that the Vista dialog box gave me was to try to alter my internet connection settings. I chose this option. The only connection option it offered me was PPPoE — typical for home DSL and cable modems, but completely wrong for the office network. I might have been able to fix this by going to the internet or networking control panels, but I was effectively locked out of them until I registered Vista.

Another option offered by Vista was to register via modem. This was a non-option, as the machine didn't have one.

I was left with one final option: registration by phone. I dialed the toll-free number, where a voice activated system suggested that I try registering using the online method, as it's the easiest one. It then asked me to read eight or nine groups of numbers displayed on the screen and then asked me to enter eight or nine groups of numbers. The whole process took about five minutes and was as painless as a process like that could be.

Once the registration was complete, the system showed a dialog box informing me that I should reboot the machine, which I did. When the reboot was complete, I fired up a browser and found that the machine was connected to the 'net again. Even though I was relieved, I groaned — why did it mangle the 'net connection after my “trial period” had ended, only to restore it after I'd registered?

Experiences like this are why I find myself using Windows less and less.