Buying a new computer should be painless...
One of my biggest frustrations when moving to a new computer, or adding a new hard drive is having to reinstall the dozens of applications on my existing machine, adding all the latest updates to each application, and then re-applying all my custom settings. By the time I've reconfigured everything, I've wasted at least an entire day. Recently, I discovered Move Me, which makes the transition to a new computer easy. Install Move Me on both the old and new computers, and then transfer all your apps and settings across your home network (or parallel port). It even transfers applications to a new hard drive without needing to reinstall or hack the registry. When you get a new computer, get Move Me.
The most important thing I took away from last week's trip to the Microsoft campus is how much the Windows Media product teams care about making great products. The popular image of Microsoft as a big dumb behemoth with no concern for users is dead wrong. At least within the Windows Media division, the product teams want to make applications users love.
If you currently use Windows Movie Maker, or Photo Story, or even Windows Media Player, expect many changes you will want to use in the coming versions. I can't disclose any of the changes demonstrated, because release dates haven't even been announced. The product teams are listening. If you know of a feature any of the Windows Media apps should include and currently doesn't, contact the product teams directly through the various Windows Media newsgroups. Or send me an e-mail using the feedback link in the sidebar and I'll be happy to pass it to the appropriate resource.
On a more disgruntled note, I'm thoroughly irritated with Office 2003 product activation. Over the past four days, I went through four laptops, which thankfully was covered by a Best Buy service agreement. The first one had serious heat issues, which necessitated replacement. In the process of getting each successive laptop setup, I installed Office 2003, requiring activation each time. When I realized each laptop had some fatal flaw, I uninstalled Office 2003 and exchanged the laptop for a different model. Product activation seemed to think I was rampantly installing more copies of Office 2003 outside the license agreement, which forced me to have to call for over the phone activation. The computers were down at phone activation, resulting in three calls for something that should have required none.
A smart activation system should also include a deactivation system. Each time I uninstalled Office 2003, the system should have recognized I was deactivating the license, effectively adding back to my install limit. Instead, I wasted time on hold twice to be told I couldn't be helped at this time. Office team, if you are listening, please make the activation scheme better.