Yesterday it took me about 5 hours to install Windows XP! The basis of the story is that I have an old (but still pretty fast) Toshiba laptop (5105-S607 for those interested). I had been running Linux on it until the hard drive crashed about a year and a half ago. I upgraded to a Powerbook G4, which I still have and love. Though the hard drive did not work, I had a roommate that used it via a Linux LiveCD. He just had to remember to email himself his documents often because if it crashed he lost all his documents.
Anyway, I’ll tell more of the details later, but there is an organization that I’m donating the laptop to. I found a pretty cheap hard drive on Ebay, put it in the computer, and began reinstalling Windows. The actual installation only took about 40 minutes and required minimal human input and only restarted twice I believe (once to copy the install files and a second time upon completing the install). The other 4+ hours were spent running Windows Update. The version of Windows XP Pro that I was installing was dated to August of 2002. I had over four years of security updates to install!
I was hoping that I would just have to run Windows Update once and all the patches would be installed at one time. However, I soon learned that this was not the case. I first had to download all the updates leading up to the huge SP2 update. Fortunately, I have a fast (6Mb/s) Internet connection so the downloading did not take that long. It was the numerous restarts that did.
I should have kept track of the total number of restarts; it was a lot. Prior to downloading the SP2 update, I had to restart twice. Finally, SP2 showed up in the Windows Update page. It hadn’t even appeared until the prior updates were installed. After installing SP2, I restarted again. Then I checked Windows Update again and, sure enough, there was another 200+MB of security updates. Eventually, I was able to choose some application updates, including the new Windows Media Player 11, IE7, and security updates to Microsoft Office. I think I included the WMP11 upgrade with some more security updates because I had to restart again.
Firefox was the first application that I installed. It took roughly 1 minute (if that) to download, install, and run. IE7, on the other hand, was much more complicated. It did not even appear under Windows Update, which is funny because on my parent’s computer Windows Update kept bugging them to install IE7 until they eventually did (they use Firefox). However, since I was donating this computer to charity, I wanted to make sure that it was as secure as possible, which meant getting the latest Internet Explorer. Installation was horrible. It took forever! While Firefox installed very quickly, IE7 took what seemed like ages, probably at least 5 minutes, if not closer to 10. There are number of changes that IE7 made for the better, but speed and memory usage were not them. This is totally anecdotal, but running Windows Update on IE7 literally locked the computer down for seconds at a time. I could move the mouse, but clicks, drags, and typing was completely unresponsive. It may have been because the computer is getting old. However, I don’t think that is the case. (The only other program running was a virus scanner.) It is a 1.7GHz P4 with 512MB of RAM, 34GB free hard drive, and 64MB video card memory. Everything else that I tried worked fine. I had thought all the security updates were installed, but, as it turns out, there were still a few “critical” updates to IE7…yes, more restarts.
Everything now appears to be working. Virus scan…check. Latest security updates…check. Firefox default browser…check.
It’s kind of interesting to see the struggle that I went through to get Windows XP Pro installed and its security updates installed. Here’s a quick comparison on how a installation of the original OS X Tiger (10.4) would go: Stick installation DVD into Apple computer. Boot into DVD. Install OS X 10.4. Run Software Update and download the combo update install to go directly to 10.4.8, currently the latest version of OS X. (Delta updates to go from 10.4.7 to 10.4.8 are also available and are a quicker download for those that already have OS X installed.) Pertinent updates to currently installed software would be downloaded at this time too. Restart computer once. Installation is complete and computer is fully working. See how much easier that was?!