What’s with the lousy start time?

The thought I have been rolling around in my head for the past few days, when I’m not thinking about my new/old computer, is … why in the heck does it take progressively longer for a Windows installation to start up?

This has become an issue for me in the past few weeks because I have occasionally needed to use a laptop as part of my daily routine. That’s not normally an issue, but the one I have chosen to be my shadow is a rather new one — only about a year or a year and a half old. It’s a dual core Dell system, nothing fancy, but certainly no bottom-feeder.

When it first showed up at the office, it was a screamer. It was fast, it was clean and shiny, it was popular with the ladies.

Now, a year or so later, it takes minutes to start up. Waiting for the sign-in prompt is almost as slow as waiting for the sign-in prompt on the ancient Sotec K6-2. And even after that, it takes more time to get to a usable point. Sure, the desktop appears and you can move the mouse around, but it’s certainly not ready to do any work.

I’ll be fair, and admit I know why things are like that. For one thing, the drive is probably hideously fragmented. It needs a bunch of services turned off. A clean installation would do wonders. And so on.

But my question goes a little beyond that. I’m betting that “Joe Windows” doesn’t know or see the need to micromanage Windows to that degree, and probably all the above-average Windows “power users” (like my boss) try to micromanage them, but to little avail. I am fairly sure that is the case with this one.

Beyond that, why suffer a product which degrades so badly over such a short time? I don’t have a year-old Linux system to compare with it, but I’d bet any amount of money that your vanilla Ubuntu installation doesn’t go from Speedy Gonzales to the Dormouse in a year’s time. (And to be honest, a quick note to my mother, who has been running the same Ubuntu installation for a year, confirms my suspicion: If there is a difference in start times between a year ago and now, it is hardly noticable.)

I guess it makes sense though. After all, “Joe Windows” seems to believe that computers are like brake pads, and get worn out over time. It’s a myth that is reinforced by rotten software design and a culture of consumerism. Things get slower. Ergo, you go buy a new one.

So “Joe Windows'” ignorance and Microsoft’s sloppy product blithely go hand in hand, each one reinforcing the other. After all, if Windows didn’t degrade so badly, there wouldn’t be a need for new computers.

Or as I have said before, if Windows was Linux, no one would need Windows. 😈


5 thoughts on “What’s with the lousy start time?

  1. colonelcrayon

    The core structure of Windows is obsolete and archaic. They can’t replace it without breaking backward compatability.

  2. IceBrain


    I think the problem is more related to poor software practices, with half finished products just to ship sooner and don’t pay enough “attention” to the uninstalling process.

    Most software made for Linux users are actively used by their own creator, so they have a good reason to worry about things like that.

    But Windows concepts like the “registry” and trusting executable installers to clean things up (as opposed to package systems like ‘debs’ or ‘rpms’) don’t really help.

  3. Luca

    I’m not going to get involved with the Windows vs. Linux argument, but I will share with you that Mac OS X doesn’t have the same slowdown issues, at least not as noticably as Windows.

  4. ste

    Yes – I have an iBook G4 which went from Panther – Tiger – Leopard over 4 years with no issues. For the years I used linux, I never really kept a setup for longer than a few months at a time before reinstalling or switching distro, so I can’t really comment on that.

    I’ve never had a Windows install last anywhere near a year down to this sort of thing, though.

  5. Pingback: Windows 7, start to finish « Motho ke motho ka botho

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