Have I told you how much I hate Vista?

OK, so maybe "hate" is a little strong.

What I really hate, perhaps, is the fact that operating systems have become so huge and so complex that it's almost impossible for the normal human mind to fully grok them in their entirety.

There are days when I pine for the simplicity of CP/M, or even DOS 3.11 - the last operating system I can honestly say that I completely and fully understood.

Windows Vista continues to behave in unexpected, unpredictable and frequently annoying ways. It seems to have been built for the convenience of Microsoft more than the convenience of the user.

Case in point: I'd heard there were some issues with the most recent Vista updates and Dell hardware. Some of my colleagues have had problems with the most recent updates messing things up. I really enjoy using my Dell laptop (disclosure: we do some work for Dell, but had already standardised on their kit long before they became a client), and I didn't want anything going sideways on me at the moment - we're far too busy.

So I've been skipping the updates - whenever it prompts me to "Install Updates and Shut Down" I've forced the "just shut the darn thing down" option. That worked fine until this morning.

I booted up first thing this morning while still at home. The machine immediately decided to start "configuring updates" I'd never asked it to install. It continued to "Installing 1 of 17 updates" and just sat there. In the end, I had to close the clamshell and travel to the office with the updates still running.

A full FIVE HOURS later, Vista finally finished unknotting its knickers and gave me my laptop back. FIVE BILLABLE HOURS without access to my network or anything. Good thing I had a morning of conference calls and hard copy to review.

The good news, I thought, was that everything seemed to come back together properly after the world's longest install - I thought I'd escaped most of the issues I'd been hearing about. Alas, though, I may have been mistaken. A few minutes ago, shutting down a Word document, this popped up:

In case that screenshot is a bit too small, let me explain what it's saying:

Vista Broke Word.

The latest updates to Microsoft Windows Vista managed to screw up something to do with Microsoft Word.

In the fine print under "See details" it points out that "This program requires flash.ocx, which is no longer included in this version of Windows".

So your latest mandatory update managed to uninstall a component required to run what is probably the single most widely-used piece of application software on the entire planet.

How utterly, utterly craptastic. Vista broke Word. I'm so happy.

[Bonus Link: Fascinating NY Times piece on the pending "Vista Capable" class action suit, citing Microsoft exec's own problems with Vista upgrades.]

[UPDATE: May 29, 2009 - Since I originally wrote this post over a year ago, I've been living with Vista every day on my main laptop. I've learned to appreciate some of its better features. I guess I don't really hate it nearly as much as I used to - or maybe I've just come to a kind of grudging acceptance. There are still days when it drives me utterly ballistic - usually when it chooses to do something like auto-reboot while I'm away from my desk. That's just utterly inexcusable.]