Vista mysteries

Last week, Cringester J. J. decided to upgrade his Vista notebook from Home Premium (original recipe) to Ultimate (extra crispy). Being a savvy digital citizen, he decided to use Vista's Disk Cleanup tool to clean up any messy files before he did the deed. I'll let him take it from there:

I spotted two error reporting entries ["Per User Archived Error Reporting" and "Per User Queued Error Reporting"] and based on the description when selected decided it was safe to add them to the default cleanup list.

I was browsing while eating my sandwich and noticed all but the default system icons disappear from my desktop, when I went to the Start menu (classic) I noticed several icons here were also missing as well as icons from the QuickLaunch toolbar ...

I decided better safe than sorry, so I cancelled the Disk Cleanup. I right-clicked the desktop and asked for a 'Refresh', which did nothing. So I tried a Restart from the Start menu. Vista displayed an error that system files were missing. None of the Safe Modes helped, including Last Known Good Configuration. Vista suggested I needed to boot from its DVD and run repair.

I am happy to report that repair, followed by System Restore, did in fact make Windows bootable to my account, only my icons were still missing. Then I tried to launch Outlook 2007 and it acted as though it had just been installed, not yet activated with no account setup. I canceled and then found nearly all my user settings were gone and well as ALL my data files (documents, pictures, you name it).

J. J. was able restore most of his data using a recent backup. (I said he was a savvy digital citizen.) The real mystery comes from the fact that The Great God Google can only find two people complaining of this malady, which means it's either very rare or very new. (Or I'm making the wrong sacrificial offerings to the G-God.)

Mystery #2: Netflickers seeking instant gratification via Netflix' Watch Now movie downloads have been thwarted by Vista's DRM scheme, which pulls the velvet rope taut across Windows Media Player 11 and says "I'm sorry, but you're not on the guest list."

WMP's bouncer demands you download a security upgrade, then flashes an error message -- WMPError(C00D11D0) -- so obscure it can't be found in Microsoft's Knowledge Base. (That one's particularly weird, since Windows has been reporting that error code since at least 2004.) A host of Microsoft MVPs (including some unbelievably snotty ones) have been wrestling with this error code, but nobody's pinned it to the ground yet.

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Robert X. Cringely

InfoWorld
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