XPerience leads to memory improvements

When Windows XP finally arrived I asked a journalist friend whether I should use the CD as a coffee mat or risk the installation....

When Windows XP finally arrived I asked a journalist friend whether I should use the CD as a coffee mat or risk the installation. With 30 years of experience and cynicism between us, he recommended the coffee mat option.

Foolishly believing that fortune favours the brave, I decided to follow the other lemmings towards the cliff.

A week earlier, I had decided that an upgrade to Windows XP was inevitable and with my home PC, a Hewlett Packard 8540, only carrying 64Mbytes of RAM, I drove to PC World to buy some memory.

"It's an 8540 Pavilion," I told the salesperson. "And this, sir, is the memory you need," he said, charging me £123. More expensive than I thought but I paid, went home, popped the cover off the system unit and immediately concluded that there was no way that I was going to disassemble my system to fit the memory, which, anyway, looked to be the wrong type.

The next day, it was back to PC World carrying the system unit with me. "It's the wrong memory and I can't fit it," I told a very helpful technician. "Quite right," he said reaching for a new package. "This is the memory you need and its only £28, I'll fit it for you."

An hour later and after every technician in PC World had tried to remove the motherboard, it was time to give up. "I'd complain to Hewlett-Packard if I were you," I was told. "We've sold lots of these 8540s but this one appears to have had its casing welded into place." "You're stuck with a 64Mbyte machine for now."

Not entirely happy, I called HP on the Monday. My machine is, I'm told darkly, "a consumer product". A week later and I'm still waiting for something to happen.

Back to Windows XP in my office. The wizard carefully checks out my Dell and tells me that it's up to the task. Two hours later, the installation finishes, the system re-boots and I'm told that I need to re-install Outlook.

And this is where the real problems begin. XP won't recognise the set-up file on my Office CD. Other than that, Windows XP looks and performs wonderfully. My PC is now blazingly fast and has had a facelift. Unfortunately, e-mail for me is "mission critical" and I can't get at mine.

I log a support call with the Microsoft Press Centre and retire home to work, using a dial-up connection to the office server. Twenty-four hours later, I'm still at home while Microsoft races to solve the problem.

A day and a half later, the solution appears as an installation clean-up file, which has to be sent via Hotmail. Minutes later my office PC is happily running Windows XP and Outlook again. Not quite the Windows "XPerience" that Microsoft or I had in mind when I started, and my friend has decided to stick to the coffee mat option for now.

Simon Moores is chairman of the Research Group


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