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Microsoft Rant

After my great experience installing CentOS, I thought I'd share my horrible experience with installing Microsoft Visual Basic .NET. Actually this involved an install of Visual Studio, of which Visual Basic is only one part.

I currently have a part-time contract to support custom applications for a large company. Mostly this involves IBM mainframe applications, but I've recently been assigned to look after some of their Visual Basic applications.

I don't think it's a good sign when the technical support guy drops off the box and doesn't do the install. But that's a separate issue with this company. Why pay my rate when a tech support guy has got to be cheaper and does this kind of stuff all day long?

So I unpack the box. Two CDs for Visual Studio, a whole disk of prerequisite software, 3 disks for the MSDN library, and few other disks with god knows what else. Hmmm... I just finished installing CentOS off one CD. I know they're not comparable, but still.

Right off the bat I know I'm in trouble when I stick in the first disk and not only does it not autoplay, but the CD drive refuses to respond. I finally had to power off and restart to eject the disk. Hoping things will get better I try again.

Now Visual Studio is a large suite of applications. I only want to compile some simple Visual Basic desktop applications. No web pages, no SQL Server, no C#. I start off the install and tell it not to install SQL server and some other stuff. But I still have to try and install some stuff from the prerequisites CD. Unfortunately it then fails to install Front Page Client Extensions, and won't proceed with the rest of the install. I have no idea why this would be a prerequisite, but I proceed to try installing that one component by itself. It still fails, but this time I'm able to look at some help for that component which goes on to explain how I need to copy some files out of a CAB file. Why the install program couldn't do this I don't know? However, after that the component install completed, I could get on with the actual Visual Studio install.

I started off that install by not selecting the other Visual Studio languages and other components like Crystal Reports that I'm hoping I don't need. By now I've spent an hour and all I've got done is the prerequisite files. The VS install proceeds to start copying files, but boy is it slow. It asks for the second disk and I think I'm getting close. But after copying a few more files my flakey CD drive decides to act up and stop working. Like really stop working. No drive letter in My Computer, nothing.

So I'm forced to cancel that install and watch the VS install program take 5 minutes to undo the work of an hour of copying files.

I'm tempted to give up at this point. But I might as well try one more time. So I poweroff and reboot and try again. This time the install only gets 15 minutes into it's thing before the CD drive decides to quit yet again.

So I go talk to our tech support guy again. Rather than replace my CD drive he decides to copy the CDs to my C drive over the network. Now I know I'm having problems with by CD drive, it's not just a Microsoft thing. But I'm not impressed with Visual Studio. Even after just selecting Visual Basic, it wants to install over one GB of files. That's pretty bloated software.

Naturally the install from the hard disk also fails, with some message about a file not found. After the second attempt I ask for a replacement CD drive. But they don't have any of those. Oh, they could get me a whole new PC, but then we'd have to reinstall all my software. But they can't replace the CD drive.

I finally check and sure enough the files it can't find are from the second disk, but the stupid install program doesn't allow you to redirect where it installs from. It's basically Abort, Retry or Ignore when it can't find the file. So now I copy the two disk images into one directory structure and lo and behold I finally get a clean install.

Naturally I have to repeat the directory copy process for the 3 disk images of the MSDN library.

But finally, after four and a half hours I've got the thing installed. I try a simple screen change to one of our applications and I think it's actually going to work. However, it took me my whole day to install some software and verify that it works.

About the only redeeming aspect of this is that it finally works.


© 2016 Mike Silversides

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 22, 2007 5:03 PM.

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