The content of this blog is my personal opinion only. Although I am an employee - currently of Nvidia, in the past of other companies such as Iagination Technologies, MIPS, Intellectual Ventures, Intel, AMD, Motorola, and Gould - I reveal this only so that the reader may account for any possible bias I may have towards my employer's products. The statements I make here in no way represent my employer's position, nor am I authorized to speak on behalf of my employer. In fact, this posting may not even represent my personal opinion, since occasionally I play devil's advocate.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

More Software Installation Tedium

A couple of weeks ago, it fell on me to write a new version of a specification document. Since the previous author had used Word 2007, I thought that it might be best if I updated from Microsoft Office 2003 to 2007, on the chance that there were 2007 features that slightly broke the document in 2003.

Company IT's software distribution web pages warned that Office 2007 was unstable on Thinkpad T42s, but ran on T43s, albeit with occasional performance problems. I have a T43p - an obsolete laptop, but one of the most up-to-date laptops that my company gives engineers to use - so I decided to take the chance.

(The Thinkpad T43 seems to have been introduced circa April 2005 - at least that is when reviews seem to be dated. It was considered pretty good ("Wow!") at the time of introduction. I believe that I have had this model for circa 3 years.)

Installing Office 2007 took circa half a day. It ran. Frequent hangs, at first, typically when saving an auto-recovery file. But once I disabled that, it ran well enough for me to update the document.

However, the performance problems that IT had warned about did afflict me. I could not prove that they were due to Office 2007, but it seemed likely.

Therefore, at the first opportunity where I was not rushed for time, I decided to uninstall Office 2007 and revert to Office 2003. The IT web pages indicated that might take 30 minutes to half an hour. I started at 3pm yesterday. It just finished this morning at 9am.

Of course, during that whole time I was unable to get any computer based work done. I.e. I was able to get almost no work done at all, except reading some PowerPoint foil sets that I happened to have printed out. Worse, I could not go and exercise - because the ^%&$^ uninstall/reinstall process required me to hit a button on a dialog box about once every half hour. After I had exhausted my supply of work-related printouts, I read a Margaret Frazer mystery, but only after I had taken my computer home.

While at work, my options were limited. At 7pm, I decided to take m laptop home, and let the install continue while I ate supper. I then read my book while watching the display until midnight.

I do not know how long it lasted past midnight. For all I know, it might have blinked "finished" right after I went to bed. However, since I had, by that time, just started the automated reinstall of Office 2003, I suspect it kept busy for a few hours.

In the morning the Office 2003 installation was complete. I had a few more software upgrades to install - a patch here, a Communicator update there.

Did I mention the half hour Outlook spent "updating personal preferences" and the like?

Finally, by 9am, I am complete.


I suspect much of the slowness was due to virus scanning. I considerd disabling the virus scanners, but IT has denied me the ability to do this from the console. I could have uninstalled the virus scanners and then reinstalled them, but I wasn't sure if that would ave been netly faster or slower.


As is my wont, I wonder what can be done about this?

Certainly, if the upate process interacted better with virus scanners. E.g. it one were authenticaed to the others.

Much time could have been saved if I could have installed bth Office 2003 and Office 2007 on my system simultaneously, changing only which was the default.

Overall, though, I keep coming back to the thin client / properly administered system model. E.g. if these documents had ben written on Google docs rather than on my PC using Microsoft Officde.