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First Vista

© August 2007 Anthony Lawrence


I had my very first Vista experience the other day. A neighbor had bought a new laptop but had some photos on an old Windows 98 machine that needed to be transferred. He caught me not doing much of anything, so I walked back with him to help.

My first thought was that Vista must have a File and Settings Transfer Wizard, so I mentioned that, but my neighbor just wanted those photos, nothing else, so I just enabled file sharing and shared the photo folder. Simple, right?

Well, yeah, except where's Network Neighborhood on Vista? Well, that's now "Network". Not too hard to find, but it wasn't seeing the Win98 share. Odd, because the Vista surely must have become the Master Browser, so this shouldn't be a timing issue. Oh well, we'll just give it the old Start->Run->\\windows98_ip_address kickstart..

Umm, where's Run?

Microsoft doesn't think you need it. It's still there, as I later found out at Windows Vista Secret #3: Bringing Back Start / Run, but right then and there I was stuck, so I decided to try it the other way around by sharing a folder on the Vista box. That wasn't too hard to figure out either, though the number of warnings Vista threw up made my neighbor nervous. I assured him I'd be able to back all of the changes out as soon as we were done. I don't blame him for being wary though: his machine was throwing out various cryptic error boxes before I even touched the keyboard - that doesn't give you warm fuzzies.

But no, the Windows 98 couldn't see the Vista share either, so I dropped back to ruminate. It was then that I noticed an XP machine on another desk. Could that see the Windows 98? Yes, it could. Could it see the Vista share? Nope. So I unshared Vista and contemplated my new data. Hmmm...

At that point my neighbor pointed to the USB pen drive he had in the XP machine. "I was doing floppies from the 98 to here last night, then using the pen drive to bring the stuff to Vista.. takes forever.."

Well, yeah, it would. But since the XP could see the 98 photo share, now we wouldn't need a floppy: just drag that stuff on over, throw as much as will fit on the USB stick, pop that over to Vista, drag 'em off, repeat as necessary.. not as convenient as an unattended network transfer, but it still wouldn't take very long. That's how I left it..

Vista should have seen that share. I don't know why it didn't, and don't really care: I'm sure I'll see more of this junk and will get used to it. Vista isn't getting rave reviews (no big surprise to me) but PC vendors are pushing it out the door just the same, so it's inevitable: I'll have to put up with it.

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Thu Aug 30 12:34:25 2007: 3095   BigDumbDinosaur

I've had two encounters with Vista to date, and neither was pleasant. Why can't Microsoft settle on one model of system administration and leave it alone? Whereas Windows 2000 was a significant improvement over Windows 98 and had a reasonably logical model for administering the system, everything since has been a step backward for Microsoft. XP moved administrative functions around (as well as introduced a fourth grade level user interface) and created a new learning curve -- not to mention new opportunities for worms, Trojans and viruses. Now Vista has done the same. I'm not sure why anyone would want Vista. I won't even mention its resource hogging tendencies...

Thu Aug 30 15:44:36 2007: 3096   rbailin

Automatic browsing never really worked instantly on XP (you had to wait up to 30 minutes for the master browser to recognize the new machine), and it seems to be the same on Vista, but there's an added catch:

The two machines need to be in the same workgroup initially to see each other. The default workgroup for Vista is WORKGROUP; I don't remember what it is for win98. Drives many people to drink.

The Run command on the Start Menu is hidden by default, because theoretically you can find any program from the search box. Yeah, right. Anyways, you can enable it by calling up by right-clicking the taskbar and choosing properties.

I was assisting a friend last night, a novice user, to setup a new Toshiba laptop. It took more than 4 hours to bring it up to speed, setting up new DSL service, removing all the crap, applying all the required and recommended patches, installing MS Office, other standard accessory programs not included like Acrobat Reader and the current Java VM, etc. The question came up as to how an average non-PC person is supposed to do this without help. I didn't have an answer for her.


Thu Aug 30 15:56:28 2007: 3097   TonyLawrence

Right - but surely the Vista would have been the master browser and the 98 was rebooted, so Vista should have known about its shares then.. oh well..

Sat Sep 1 04:22:56 2007: 3100   BigDumbDinosaur

The default workgroup has always been WORKGROUP since the halcyon days of Windows 3.whatever.

Sat Sep 1 08:18:48 2007: 3102   TonyLawrence

Tes, but that was one of the first things I checked, and it WAS different. I thine the 98 was "OEMWORKGROUP" - I've seen that fairly often.

Fri Sep 7 15:16:21 2007: 3117   rbailin

Actually the default workgroup name for WinXP is MSHOME, not WORKGROUP.

But even that knowledge wouldn't have gotten you going with a simple file transfer.

It seems that MS, in its infinite wisdom, has configured the Vista Home editions to require a login username & password ("Password Protected Sharing") as the default instead of the so-called "simple sharing" that was the default for XP and earlier. When you setup a user account during the OOBE of a new OEM system, passwords are "recommended", but the implication of not having one is never even hinted at.

Nor is it mentioned that you have to have a user account setup for the user of the system who owns the files you're trying to retrieve. Who knew that a course in basic Windows network administration was required for a home user?

But wait, there's more, involving ACL's when you attempt to change the ownership of a shared directory (by adding "Everyone"). But I just don't have the time or patience right now. But thanks for allowing me to vent.


Fri Sep 7 15:46:04 2007: 3118   TonyLawrence

Thanks Bob: you can vent anytime you like :-)


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