How WinXP can impress me… sometimes

I hate to admit it, but Windows XP can be pretty good at some things. There are other things it does which really irritate me – included here for the sake of completeness – but sometimes even I have to have a grudging admiration for it.

(note – the following story features an IBM Thinkpad R40 recently upgraded – very smoothly – to XP SP2)

My parents-in-law arrived home from a holiday trip to Wales with a digital camera full of photos – a Canon PowerShot A40. I couldn’t hook it up to my Linux workstation because the USB cable for my Fuji Finepix 4700 was not compatible. It didn’t look like we were going to be able to look at the pictures on anything other than the LCD on the back of the camera, until I remembered my Dane-Elec USB combo card reader…

Plugged the card reader into my wife’s laptop. It wasn’t recognised so XP asked to go online to find drivers.

Point of irritation: the first time it detected the hardware, the machine was not plugged in to the network, so I went all the way through the new hardware wizard saying “try to find drivers locally in Windows” but it didn’t work. So I clicked back through the same wizard, plugged in the network cable, clicked forward saying “go online” at all the appropriate moments, but it still failed. I had to close the wizard and relaunch it before it detected the network and used it.

OK so we had drivers for this new mysterious piece of hardware. I inserted the CompactFlash card and Windows said, what would you like to do with these files? I chose the “Copy them to the local disk” option and it launched the Windows Photo Wizard which let me title all of them as coming from Snowdonia, and copy them to Shared Pictures so both my wife and I would have access to them.

While it was doing that, we watched them as a slide show. Unfortunately, that stopped halfway through as it obviously only decided to rotate through the photos available in the target directory at the time I launched the slideshow, but it was reasonably easy to resume.

Then we inserted a blank CD. Windows asked, what should I do with this CD? I chose the “Open the burn folder” option, dragged the files from Shared Pictures into the burn folder, clicked the burn option, entered a title for the CD… declined to add a picture viewer to the CD… and we were done.

Aside from one or two irritations, that was impressive. Hope that Project Utopia is going to make my life in Linux equally as easy.

9 out of 10 to MS.