I may beat it to death over the weekend, in which case my blog entries on Monday will be harder to read because they'll be in pencil, scrawled by hand on your monitor screen.
Microsoft repair/support: Still generous with resources and advice, still largely useless
As usual when I manage to dig myself a big hole I figured a way to get out of it, mostly, though with a lot of lost time, effort and physical danger (editors at three different publications are ready to strangle me right now, which is only fair considering how I feel about Windows. Luckily we all work remotely so it's hard for them to get here. I told them I live in Ohio, Iowa/Idaho. To East Coasters for whom Central Pennsylvania is The West, Ohio, Iowa and Idaho not only all sound like the same state, but can be mistaken for the proper name of a town if you say them fast enough. It's a stupid trick but has kept me unchoked up to this point.)
Also as usual I depended heavily on tools and directions from Microsoft and the generous actual expertise in advice from MSPs and other Microsoft product experts on Technet and Microsoft.com support forums. I almost never have to talk to one. All the problems I run into have shown up and (mostly) been solved before.
What those solutions are and how to make sure the solutions fix the problem you have without creating a new one, however, is just as hard as it ever was.
Windows 7 is a lot easier to run and maintain than anything else Microsoft has ever built, but it's just as full of nooks and crannies as any of its other operating systems and, because it's designed to keep more of the nuts and bolts behind the scenes, more complicated to fix once you do get behind the scenes.
With Windows XP if you uninstall a service and scrub it out of the Registry, it's gone. Reinstall and you're golden. With Win7, something of it is left that raises itself like a rotting corpse to create the same problem anew.
"Backward Compatibility" = "not killing off the virus, in case we need it again."
Microsoft has run often enough into the problems I had that it released to the public – not just the certified MSPs and techs who know what they're doing – apps specifically designed to scrub (not just uninstall) each of the different layers of .NET from a PC and do the same for Outlook or Exchange. Everything goes except the mail files, which you can scrub or fix on your own before importing clean versions into a new profile.
The result shouldn't even remember it ever had a problem.