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Fixing Application Problems in Windows Vista

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Andy Walker provides tips and techniques for getting non-cooperative programs to behave in Windows Vista.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

What You'll Learn

In this chapter, I'll show you:

  • How to update or roll back a driver
  • How to reverse a software installation gone wrong
  • How to manually uninstall a program
  • How to remove or fix buggy software
  • How to roll back your system to the way it was before something went wrong
  • How to fix your email program
  • How to wrangle Internet Explorer 7 into submission

Bad Software! Sit. Stay.

Dealing with software makes me think of dogs in a dog park. All these programs are running around in a system, generally quite peacefully and cooperatively. But sometimes a rogue application comes along, like a basset hound with attitude, and upsets the whole balance of the system, driving it into a growling, furry fury.

Remove the barking offender, and you can return the situation back to normal, though sometimes that can be difficult. And if he's gobbled through last night's nacho bowl, mind the grass.

Like a nacho-gobbling hound, software can leave some nasty disruptive code that fouls the system when it is uninstalled. So let's look at a few situations where software on a system can be a bad dog:

  • The operating system—Microsoft is notorious for shipping incomplete and buggy operating systems. Vista is no exception. Although Microsoft claims it's the most tested operating system ever, the reality is there is a lot of new programming code inside it. So until Microsoft ships the first service pack for Vista (expect it February/March of 2008), Vista is going to be temperamental at times, especially for those that push the operating system hard.
  • Applications—Microsoft is not the only culprit. Third-party applications from both big and small software vendors can have all kinds of bugs built into them. Companies are actively reworking their programs to make them Vista compatible, primarily to be compatible with the new security system. If you are trying to install a program on Vista that was previously installed on a Windows XP computer (or older), you could encounter some problems, as follows:
    • The installer might crap out.
    • The program or Vista might throw up all kinds of error messages during installation (see Figure 9.1).
      Figure 9.1

      Figure 9.1 Some programs won't install nicely on Vista, such as this Adobe Flash plug-in.

    • It might not work as advertised or as expected.
  • Drivers—If your problem appears to be hardware-related—that is, if a piece of hardware attached to or part of the system doesn't work the way it is supposed to—chances are, the problem is software-related. Hardware rarely works intermittently and then dies softly. It usually makes like Bruce Willis and dies hard. So when your system starts to behave erratically, it's a good idea to go looking for a software cause first before jumping to conclusions.The device might need a firmware or a driver update, or sometimes it just needs more resources from the system, such as memory or hard drive space.
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