HP=Hardly Pleasant

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While attending the Intel Developer Forum at Moscone West at the beginning of the month, I spent some time looking at the Windows Media Center Edition 2005 demonstration, and talking to the Microsoft representative manning the demonstration.

I asked him if it was worth upgrading my HP pavillion with Media Center Edition 2004, or possible, and he responded enthusiastically on both counts. Not only was it possible, but that there was a huge improvement in picture quality, both of live TV and recorded programs. And of course, upgrading would let me use the Media Center Extender to hook up a remote TV.

But calling Hewlett-Packard last week, my dreams were dashed. Their upgrade program had been discontinued on February 28th, and there was virtually no chance of me being able to upgrade to the 2005 version. The best the service rep on the special upgrade line could do was refer me to HP’s tech support line. HP’s tech support representative referred me to the nearest HP authorized service center and Microsoft’s tech support line. The tech at the service center is still out of the office, and Microsoft told me that I would never, ever, ever, be able to buy the upgrade from them, and that I should call HP.

Never before in the history of Microsoft operating systems have you been unable to upgrade from the previous version to the next version. And the curt way in which I was treated and made to feel like a simpleton has potentially lost HP a long-standing customer over this silly upgrade now or forever suffer crappy pictures policy.

Ever since getting tired of building my own hardware when I moved from a 486 to a Pentium II, both of my computers have been HPs, and I’ve also purchased two iPAQs, at least one HP calculator, and probably another peripheral or two I have forgotten about.

I was about to buy my sister a new HP Pavillion with Media Center, and perhaps an HP Media Center Extender, but I think I’ll wait and see if the company is willing to make me happy enough about my existing Pavillion’s OS before spending any more money with them. And the fact that you can no longer customize the configuration of the HP Media Center PCs doesn’t help either.

So instead of spending over a grand with HP this week, I’m going to order a Mac Mini, from a company I know will provide me with good service, a quality product, the ability to customize the computer I buy, and a long history of letting me upgrade to the next version of the OS.

Author: Peter Sheerin

Peter Sheerin is best known for the decade he spent as the Technical Editor of CADENCE magazine, where he was the acknowledged expert in Computer-Aided Design hardware and software. He has a long-standing passion for improving usability of software, hardware, and everyday objects that is always interwoven in his articles. Peter is available for freelance technical writing and product reviews, and is exploring career opportunities in interaction design. His pet personal project is exploring the best ways to harmonize visual, tactile, and audible symbols for improving the effectiveness of alerting systems.

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