My Year of Living Without Software

I had an unusual (for me) reaction just now to being sent a link to direct download Microsoft’s Beta 2 of Windows Vista: Squeamishness and unease.

Why unusual? Because years ago I would have immediately gone into full-downloading frenzy, frothingly eager to get the latest iteration, whatever the consequences to my system stability. I remember when Windows 95 was in beta I downloaded almost daily builds on my production system, and I did it overnight via a dial-up connection. Madness.

Now, however, things have changed. The thought of installing binary software applications makes me uneasy, like a stranger wants to, however briefly, move into my living room. And the thought of installing an entire operating system just seems barking mad, like having a family of six move into the house permanently.

In pondering my unease I realize something: I have installed no material new software in over a year. Nothing. Nada. This is, I’m sure, the first this has happened in more than twenty years of computer use.  Remarkable, and more broadly, a personal statement about how computing and software are changing beyond recognition.


  1. chimichanga says:

    I have another name for it – “getting older” 😉

  2. A better future?
    “Daddy, what’s an installer?”
    “Well, back in my days …”

  3. chimi — Guilty as charged! I should have apportioned some blame to the passage of years and accumulation of experience with the myriad ways new software can ruin a functioning PC.

  4. Robert Spivack says:

    I have just one word for you – Virtualization
    It is the beta tester/Geeklover’s ultimate tool. Choose your favorite (VMWare, Microsoft VPC/VS, Xen, et. al.) but choose one and then testing/using/trying new software is not longer a white knuckle do-i-screw-up-my-current-system Vegas crapshoot.
    N.B. Or interchangeable drive bays from Fry’s – “the low-tech equivalent” of swapping virtual hard drive images.