Windows, again.

2006-10-08 04:27

So, Fireball’s computer is acting up. Can’t play videos. Research reveals that it can maybe play them with acceleration turned off, which leads to the discovery that the BIOS is not assigning an interrupt to the video card.

Nor, apparently, can it. There is not a BIOS setting for this, so don’t tell me to enable it.

Update BIOS; no change.

Well, the machine has onboard video. So Windows runs it… In 640×480, 16-color, and whenever it’s using this video, it is GLACIALLY slow. Even in the installer, which said it had approximately 7 minutes left for close to 20 minutes. There’s no excuse for this; it’s just a framebuffer. But someone, somewhere, wrote some clever code that is trying to outsmart the hardware and bypass the spec, so it’s unusable.

In about two or three hours, I will be privileged to be allowed to try to run the drivers for that video card, assuming I got the right drivers; there’s no documentation for the motherboard, but I have some indirect evidence of what kind of hardware it is. Since, even after the install, Windows will be glacially, unusably, slow, running that 6MB executable and installing drivers may take an hour.

It might, or might not, begin to fix anything.

Why am I reloading the machine? Well, the previous install seemed to go okay, but then it wouldn’t run the third-party firewall I normally use. The install before that worked okay for a while, but while trying to get it to use the onboard video instead of the add-in card, I ended up with a system which immediately reset the machine even in “safe mode”.

This is, as it happens, about par for the course. If Windows goes wrong, your option (singular) is to completely reinstall. There is no way to get at anything; boot-time configuration is handled entirely by binaries which are reacting in undocumented ways to configuration data stored in a giant binary database. There’s nothing you can look at.

Why is Windows glacially slow talking to VGA hardware in plain framebuffer mode? No one can say. It could be for any reason or none.

That people put up with this is convincing evidence that Microsoft has a functional monopoly. That they have to put up with this, rather than getting anything close to the ease and convenience that everyone else offers, is evidence that they are continuing to abuse it.

At this point, I can’t even recommend Windows for gaming. It just isn’t worth the hassle.

Peter Seebach

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