February 1, 2013 in Technology
- Stopping a print job – ever since I can remember, trying to stop a print job is something of a nightmare with Windows. Sure, if I can remember how in a panic as the printer churns out page after page of garbage, I can open the printer dialog and select the document and go to the documents menu and choose to cancel it… I could then be delayed with some sort of “Are you sure?” timewaster message, and then… mostly it carries right on printing while your computer claims to be cancelling the job. As often as not, it seems, it fails altogether to stop the printing and the job gets stuck in the print queue, undeletable and preventing anything else from printing too. Turning the printer on and off a few times to clear it out of the printer’s memory is the best option at this point, but that usually results in a paper jam. And the undeletable print job? You have no option but to stop the print spooler (if you have admin rights to your machine and know how), find wherever this version of Windows has stashed the spooler folder (C:\\Windows\\System32\\spool\\printers in Windows 7 and 8), and delete the file manually. And re-start the spooler… C’mon Microsoft: surely it isn’t impossible to send a message to the printer to tell it to stop immediately, even if the computer can’t delete the job properly? If such a signal were there, I’m sure the printer manufacturers would start supporting it practically within days in their latest models. And surely it isn’t impossible to delete a simple file, even when it is supposedly ‘in use’ by a crashed spooler routine? How about an automated ‘stop or fix printing’ troubleshooter like you have for network issues?
- Focus on the focus – Windows can be remarkably unresponsive at times; especially when the computer is still loading all its start-up junk, but also at other times when it is busy with something (e.g., during a long search in Outlook). You click with the mouse to, say, open a browser while the computer is still basically waking up, and – for minutes sometimes – nothing seems to happen. Most people get impatient or think nothing’s happening and make things worse by clicking several times, with the inevitable result that in a few more minutes several browser windows open. Wouldn’t it be so much better if the operating system was set to actually pay attention when the user tries to do something, and relegate all other functions to much lower priority for a time? If the user doesn’t want to wait for all the start-up stuff today, why make them? If the browser (or whatever application) happens to need some of it right away, load it right away – otherwise, just do it a little later and don’t hold us up!
- Meaningless, unnecessary and unhelpful error messages – Most Windows error messages are so worthless that the majority of users don’t even bother to read them any more. They know something is wrong and just click OK or call IT support. Indeed, the advice found in those few messages that give some ‘help’ is generally irrelevant anyway. Surely there must be at least one person at Microsoft who knows how to write simple English, and who actually uses a computer? We’ve probably all seen “Unknown error”, or errors about “illegal” operations. Are we criminals now all of a sudden? Or how about, “The application failed to initialize because the Window station is shutting down.” Well, why do we need to know? We now have to click OK to get the “Window station” (whatever that is) to shut down, which we must have asked for in the first place. Just get on with it!!! All versions of Windows are absolutely full of such stupid, badly-written and in many cases needless error messages. My advice to Microsoft: hire a writer, and stop wasting users’ time.
- And speaking of start-up junk – why is it that all versions of Windows just get slower and slower as they age? It is almost as if Microsoft wants it to age so that you feel the need to get an upgrade after a year or two…
- Unexpected changes of focus. I’m sitting there, happily typing away, when all of a sudden some alert pops up – and gets immediately dismissed before I’ve had a chance to read it, because I was typing! My keystroke immediately counts as ‘OK’ or ‘Cancel’ or whatever… who knows what it was that popped up? Probably something unnecessary anyway…
Have I missed any long-term Windows annoyances out? Ones that have been around through many versions of Microsoft Windows? Let me know – you can leave a comment at the bottom of this article.