When it comes to software, the latest is not the greatest

You're safer with mature software

Last year, I wrote that , as a computer nerd, I hold this truth to be self-evident: All new software contains bugs and design flaws. As a programmer, I can understand the inevitability of bugs. Design flaws are another matter.

The May 1st issue of Sunbelt Software's Vista News newsletter highlighted some mistakes in the design of Windows Vista.

An item called "Don't accidentally delete that Recycle Bin!" describes how a number of Vista users deleted their Recycle Bin by accident, most likely while trying to empty it. If you right click on the Recycle Bin icon on a Windows XP desktop, there is no "Delete" option. Perhaps there is a good reason to delete the Vista Recycle Bin, but even so, the option to delete it should not be somewhere that people can do so accidentally. And, deleting the Recycle Bin, since it's such an oddball thing to do, should require an extra confirmation.

If you're a Vista user without a Recycle Bin, the newsletter offers this advice: "A few weeks ago, we included a link to a KB article telling you several ways to restore a missing Recycle Bin, depending on how it came to be missing." So, you have to know how you deleted it, in order to restore it? There must have been a sale on design mistakes.

User Account Control (UAC) is perhaps the poster boy for flawed design. While it may serve a useful purpose, it annoys an awful lot of people. So many, that the newsletter carried a piece called "How to Disable UAC Prompts in Vista". But again, there seems to be a family of design mistakes.

If you're running Vista Business, Enterprise or Ultimate, there is one set of instructions. People using the Home Basic or Premium versions of Vista, have a different procedure, one that involves zapping the registry. Of course, these are the people least qualified to understand what the registry is, let alone update it.

And, if you do disable UAC, the newsletter reports, you may not be able to install the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

A few days ago, I suggested holding off on installing Windows XP Service Pack 3, not because of bugs or design mistakes, but instead to let any and all software incompatibilities be worked out.

If you are a tinkerer, then fine, play with new software. However, if your computer is used for serious, income-producing work, you want no part of new software. Like doctors and airline pilots, software needs time to mature.

See a summary of all my Defensive Computing postings.

About the author

    Michael Horowitz wrote his first computer program in 1973 and has been a computer nerd ever since. He spent more than 20 years working in an IBM mainframe (MVS) environment. He has worked in the research and development group of a large Wall Street financial company, and has been a technical writer for a mainframe software company.

    He teaches a large range of self-developed classes, the underlying theme being Defensive Computing. Michael is an independent computer consultant, working with small businesses and the self-employed. He can be heard weekly on The Personal Computer Show on WBAI.

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