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No end in sight for Vista's Long Goodbye

Looking for yet another reason to hold off buying Vista? Read on

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Seven weeks ago, when we first reported Vista was causing many machines to stall indefinitely while deleting, copying and moving files, we were sure the problem was caused by a bug that would be fixed relatively quickly. After all, Vista is Microsoft's flagship product. It's also an operating system. And everyone knows deleting, copying and moving files are among the most basic tasks any operating system can set out to do.

Now we don't know what to think. Vista's Long Goodbye, as we've come to call this bizarre phenomenon, continues unabated. No amount of diagnosing by the untold number of confounded sysadmins sheds any light on the problem's cause, and Microsoft has yet to acknowledge its full extent.

"I just wanted to say...that I have tried everything...in this section..till yesterday (May 13 2007) and none of it worked," a user who goes by the name SR_1976 posted today in a Microsoft TechNet forum discussing the glitch. "I have tried my best to work with Vista ....did not work...so, gone back to XP...and all my problems are gone. Vista was more stable than XP (for me...)and does have some good features...but enough is enough.." (The discussion, by the way, is the longest TechNet thread we've ever seen.)

Another posting made today relates the experience of a certain groden, who spent four hours trying to copy 3.8GB of data off a Windows 2003 server using a Sony Vaio with 2GB of RAM. It took him a couple of minutes to copy the same files using a similar set up that was running XP.

To recap, an untold number of Vista users are unable to delete, copy and move files without interminable waits, in which the OS appears to be calculating the time the job will take. While most vexing for people working with files on a remote server, the glitch is also present when working with local files. Microsoft issued a hotfix, but it appears it was designed to repair a problem other than the one at hand. Or at least we hope, because it sure hasn't fixed Vista's Long Goodbye.

We asked Microsoft for an interview with a product manager who could shed some light on the difficulty that's vexing so many of the company's most important customers. What we got was an emailed statement that gave no new information. It read:

Finding the root cause of issues like this and identifying a solution is of the utmost priority for Microsoft. That said, crafting a fix and fully testing it - to be sure we are not introducing other problems - takes time. This is why Microsoft makes hot fixes available, and while we understand that hot fixes are not a perfect solution, they can help people get by while we perfect the long term solution. We will keep you updated with specific plans to this issue as soon as we have confirmation.

Microsoft's inability to fix a defect in such a basic feature has led to its share of conspiracy theories that would be quickly dismissed as kooky, were it not for the company's steadfast refusal to provide any details about what's causing the problem. The top contender: The inability to copy files without stalling isn't a bug at all, but rather the result of a digital rights management feature designed to protect Hollywood (even if the rest of us have to cuss our way through four hours deleting a few gigs worth of crap).

To prove the point, one user found the problem went away when he ran an XP Pro Virtual Machine that was running on top of Vista. Mysteriously, it took him about eight seconds to delete the 23GB of files he wanted to get rid of. Using Vista on the same machine took him more than 25 minutes.

Hmm, maybe the DRM conspiracists are right after all. ®

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