For the last couple of days I’ve been working on a broken laptop, which gets halfway into Vista before blue-screening. Usually this is a hard drive problem, but that checked out fine. So I analysed the logs for odd drivers, and nothing was amiss there either. Then I googled the BSOD error codes, which suggested Windows was fundamentally broken – my best guess is it lost power while installing SP1. Fine.
This kind of thing isn’t a problem. I’ve had plenty of XP machines break in similar ways: the solution is to run a repair install from the XP disc. Repair installs are magic: they replace all the important system files, and usually fix everything outright. If not they almost always get you into the operating system, which is usually a good start.
Except, unbelievably, Vista doesn’t do repair installs. I’d forgotten this. Apparently you can emulate the process by installing an upgrade over the top, but only from within Vista itself. Essentially, if Vista doesn’t boot, you’re screwed.
System Restore is unfortunately not working either, so I’ve had no choice but to run ‘Restore to factory condition’ – a process which formats the drive in its first step. I’ve backed up all the data elsewhere, and I’ll have to restore it manually.
This is completely stupid. Maybe there are good reasons for removing the repair install, but I can’t think of any, and it feels like an enormous step backwards.
Windows 7 is getting some good press, along the lines of ‘Vista, but faster, sleeker, and without all the annoying crap’. I really hope so.