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I'm going to have a rant. It's my turn.

I have five PC's. I'm not showing off, I just do.. sorry it's six if you count my daughter's hand-me-down.

In front of me here, in the office are my Dell desktop (Windows XP), My ultra-slim Hewlett Packard laptop also Windows XP and my Apple Powerbook, four years old with MAC-OS 9.5, faster than most and playing my music.

At home, I have another Hewlett Packard, a Pavilion desktop in my study running Windows (ME) and my daughter has a Taiwanese clone, also with Windows (ME).

Finally, in my little retreat by the coast, I have an AMD box with Windows ME and a view of the sea.

Do they all work smoothly? Hell they don't.

Does any one machine work 100% perfectly? No of course not!

I have the machine in my home by the coast that won't access the Internet anymore. God knows why but I think it's something to do with Norton Internet Security and/or Outlook, as it involves "Symproxsvc" and "Msgsvr32" errors. Three re-installations of Windows and Norton don't make me any closer to fixing the problem.

My daughter's machine is simply underpowered for Windows ME and as temperamental as she is, But she's seven, so that's OK.

My desktop at home falls over regularly and spends inordinate amounts of time accessing it's hard disk, although it has more than enough memory. This also collapses from time to time with MSGsvr32 errors or simply hangs when connected to the Web.

Microsoft support have been having fun and games trying to solve the different problems with my Windows XP machines in the office, as I described in an earlier column. Two "roll-backs" and re-installs of MS Messenger seem to have solved the problem, for now at least.

My own theory is that the update process may be part of the problem. Both Windows XP and Windows ME will run automatic updates when connected to the Internet and its hard not to draw the conclusion that strange problems seem to occur most frequently after such an update, MS Messenger being the best example so far this year.

I have no single consistent platform and that's true of the industry in general. There are hundred of different machines and thousands of different configurations for Windows out there in the wild. Being a suspicious sort of person, I'm starting to wonder whether the updates, designed for later, more powerful machines, are having an unforseen impact further down the food chain? It's X-Files stuff of course but sometimes it pays to be paranoid!

Microsoft are very kindly looking at my TSRs, the memory resident programs, like the hated Real Player. Maybe these are the problems but conveniently, the system I'm writing this column on collapsed twice last night while I was talking to the Microsoft support engineer on the case, so at least they have something to go on.

Being paranoid, I suspect that as time goes by, these problems will become more pronounced, as my older systems get older and Windows XP becomes far more of a service than an Operating System. When Windows XP looked at my Hewlett Packard Pavilion as a possible home, it laughed or more accurately, it gave me a number of good reasons why I should stay with Windows ME. I'm afraid, that unless you stay with the leading edge of technology in the Windows world, then like me, you'll find yourself at the bleeding edge of unusual system problems.

Now with luck, I 'll be able to post this before this machine falls over again.




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