The Grumpy Old Man

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New Computer, More Sharp Business Practice

Our new computer seems stuffed with useless (certainly far from free) software!

Followers of Grumpy will know that a few weeks ago we had a major crash on the old PC running Windows XP and mainly used by Mrs Grumpy. I dare say the pragmatists amongst you would say "if it was still running Windows XP, then it must be almost as old as you Grumpy!" In fact the machine passed on in grand style right in the middle of some of Mrs Grumpy's rather important work.

The upshot was that I had to do a lot of rapid footwork and order a new computer. Discussions with our local computer shop advised that it was perhaps better to stick to window 7 or 8 as Windows 10 was totally different in its presentation and modus operandi. A quick survey of Amazon produced a computer of the same make as the one I'm using now (albeit faster and with more memory) so we decided to go ahead with that particular one.

This is the fourth home computer that I have acquired, with the first three (including the one that was a birthday gift from my Daughters) arriving with all the requisite software fully installed, thus making them immediately operational and ready to go.

After the new computer had arrived and I'd fired it up I was a little mesmerised to see just how different Windows 8.1 actually is. What concerned me most was that on the desktop there were over 20 icons with all sorts of labels, many of which I'd never even heard. Included in that lot were a shortcuts to "eBay" and "Skype". Fine, if you use these things but eBay, I must confess, we never use and when, years ago, we tried Skype, it proved totally and utterly impossible to use as our broadband connection is frequently little better than dial-up. It actually finished up giving us all a headache!

I slowly worked down the other icons and found that well over half of them took me directly to a login page to complete and thus start a months evaluation. The crazy thing was, I couldn't even find out what the programme did until I'd logged on and ergo started my evaluation. I didn't even get the chance to decide whether I wanted the programme before I started. It was perfectly clear that at the end of the evaluation period, if I wanted the programme I had to pay extra to continue using it!

Through all of this, I soon realised there was no equivalent to Microsoft office including such programs as MS Word or Excel included in the package. Both of these programs are crucial to much of our computer usage. If I needed these, again, I had to purchase them separately.

At this point, I wondered if the Marketing Department of the computer manufacturer had been trained by Ryanair! The basic equipment, yes was a computer, but no it didn't actually do much of any use. It is possible I suppose, that the it was originally designed as a "gaming" machine.

On the other side of the coin, after a couple of weeks using the machine a pop-up message appeared saying "your trial of McAfee securities runs out in 10 days". That's fine, because that is our preferred security suite. What a pity there hadn't been a McAfee logo anywhere on the desktop. Perhaps then I would have realised that I'd got it! I did manage to get my own back though as I could transfer the remainder of the licence from the old machine onto the new one at no extra cost.

So at the end of the day, what appeared to be a sensibly priced machine actually finished up to be quite pricey by the time I'd installed all of the software that we required.

It seems that many equipment and service providers are now playing this game where the headline price is not really much good to man nor beast. It seems to be the rule of the game, particularly in the airline industry, even worse in car hire, and now in equipment supply.

So beware, the sharks are breeding, and not only is it not 100% clear what you're actually purchasing, but then, neither is it clear what you are not purchasing!

But, Gordon Bennett, what a carry on! It really does come very close, in Grumpy's view, to sharp practice.