Windows 7ista ‘upgrade’ woes mount: Endless reboots and hair-pulling product activation failures

Apple Store“Call it the legacy of Microsoft’s Vista operating system. PC users upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7 have run into a variety of hair pulling problems since last Thursday when Windows 7 launched. Complaints range from endless reboots to refusals by Windows to accept Microsoft’s assigned product keys,” Jacqueline Emigh reports for PC World.

“As of Monday morning, Microsoft had answered about 2600 questions that poured into support forum regarding upgrades. At last count, around 1400 questions remained unanswered,” Emigh reports.

“On Microsoft’s support forum, users are complaining of receiving “unspecified errors” when unpacking Windows 7 Home Premium from the student download, and about getting [error messages]… Users began to complain about endless reboots on Friday, posting messages to the Microsoft support forums stating that the Windows 7 upgrade would hang two-thirds of the way through the upgrade,” Emigh reports. “Other angry users are saying that Windows won’t accept product keys supplied with Windows 7 upgrade disks. “

“Meanwhile, many users seem quite dissatisfied with Microsoft’s responses to other Win 7 upgrade issues. As of this morning, Microsoft support reps were still replying to users’ questions about product keys with a canned response citing ‘several reasons why a product key might not be accepted,'” Emigh reports. “Essentially, either, ‘You mistyped it. The product key you typed doesn’t match the key assigned to Windows on your computer. Microsoft has identified the product key you entered as counterfeit,’ or ‘the product key has already been used on another computer,”‘according to Microsoft.”

Emigh reports, “One person griped: ‘I Have been on the phone since 4 pm EST and I still don’t have a valid product code. Thank you Microsoft! Thank you for wasting my valuable time! Time is money and this had been a flagrant waste of it,’ wrote thatguy38.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: By SteveJack

“The combination of “Stockholm Syndrome” and “cognitive dissonance” produces a victim who firmly believes the relationship is not only acceptable, but also desperately needed for their survival,” writes Joseph M. Carver, PhD for

Interesting, you say, but what does this have to do with the price of iMacs in China?

Well, nothing, but it does have a great deal to do with a recent issue I had with an IT department head at a company with which I was consulting recently. I won’t get into the specifics, but you know the drill, this guy hated Macs for some reason, made outright fun of Macs using all of the usual myths (too expensive, no software, no one uses them, Apple’s going out of business, etc.), but was getting pounded by his company’s workers and management as his network repeatedly failed due to viruses and patches and just plain Windows crashes.

I think I’ve figured out the answer to my own article from last November, “I really wonder what some Windows users think about Macintosh.”

These Windows users are sick. Sick, I tell you! Mentally ill. Want proof? Okay, but keep in mind that this gets eerie, proceed at your own risk:

Dr. Carver explains the history of the naming of Stockholm Syndrome, “On August 23rd, 1973 two machine-gun carrying criminals entered a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. Blasting their guns, one prison escapee named Jan-Erik Olsson announced to the terrified bank employees ‘The party has just begun!’ The two bank robbers held four hostages, three women and one man, for the next 131 hours. The hostages were strapped with dynamite and held in a bank vault until finally rescued on August 28th. After their rescue, the hostages exhibited a shocking attitude considering they were threatened, abused, and feared for their lives for over five days. In their media interviews, it was clear that they supported their captors and actually feared law enforcement personnel who came to their rescue.”

“While the psychological condition in hostage situations became known as ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ due to the publicity – the emotional ‘bonding’ with captors was a familiar story in psychology. It had been recognized many years before and was found in studies of other hostage, prisoner, or abusive situations. In the final analysis, emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation,” Dr. Carver writes.

Stockholm Syndrome has certain symptoms or behaviors according to Dr. Carver. These include:
A. Positive feelings by the victim toward the abuser/controller
B. Negative feelings by the victim toward family, friends, or authorities trying to rescue/support them or win their release
C. Support of the abuser’s reasons and behaviors
D. Positive feelings by the abuser toward the victim
E. Supportive behaviors by the victim, at times helping the abuser
F. Inability to engage in behaviors that may assist in their release or detachment

Now, I shall interpret, using my IT friend as the example:
A: Even though completely locked into a failing computer system, he compliments Microsoft when speaking of Windows and Microsoft applications.
B. I was trying to explain the benefits of Mac OS X vs. Windows when it comes to usability, stability, and virus/worm security only to have him make fun of Apple and the Mac based upon myths and falsehoods.
C. His support of Microsoft’s system of patching problems as they came up, how Windows worked, etc. was strong.
D. This poor bastard loved Microsoft.
E. This guy was proud that he had been awake for 56 hours, working through two nights straight to patch hundreds of infected Windows machines.
F. He wouldn’t listen to me as I offered him an option (Mac) that did everything he needed to do (and more) without the problems of Windows.

According to Dr. Carver, four situations or conditions must be present that serve as a foundation for the development of Stockholm Syndrome:
A. The presence of a perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and the belief that the abuser would carry out the threat
B. The presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim
C. Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser
D. The perceived inability to escape the situation

My interpretation:
A: The perceived threat, I believe, is that my IT friend would have to “learn something new” or, to put it simply, fear of change. This is a very strong fear in some humans.
B: Microsoft had worked with him on licensing, some custom work, etc.
C. My IT friend would not hear the words Mac or Apple or anything other than Windows without immediately shutting down intellectually and resorting to making fun of the Mac and Apple users.
D. He was so deeply invested in time and money with Microsoft, that he couldn’t even consider life without Microsoft.

Dr. Carver explains that, “In abusive and controlling relationships, the victim has the sense they are always ‘walking on eggshells’ – fearful of saying or doing anything that might prompt a violent/intimidating outburst. My IT friend had long ago barred all users from installing any software on their machines, kept Windows restore discs everywhere (even in his car!), and acted like keeping his computer running was the result of hours and hours of fine-tuning (which it was).

I’m going to stop translating because it’s just not necessary any longer, just read what Dr. Carver has to say and apply it to my IT friend, Microsoft, and my attempts to offer him the Apple Macintosh solution:

“In severe cases of Stockholm Syndrome in relationships, the victim may have difficulty leaving the abuser and may actually feel the abusive situation is their fault.”

“Abusers and controllers are often given positive credit for not abusing their partner, when the partner would have normally been subjected to abuse in a certain situation.”

“In relationships with an abuser or controller, the victim has also experienced a loss of self-esteem, self-confidence, and psychological energy. The victim may feel ‘burned out’ and too depressed to leave.”

“Stockholm Syndrome produces an unhealthy bond with the controller and abuser. It is the reason many victims continue to support an abuser after the relationship is over. It’s also the reason they continue to see ‘the good side’ of an abusive [situation] and appear sympathetic to someone who has… abused them.”

Now let’s look briefly at “Cognitive Dissonance.” Dr. Carver explains, “Throughout history, people have found themselves supporting and participating in life situations that range from abusive to bizarre. One way these feelings and thoughts are developed is known as ‘cognitive dissonance.'”

“‘Cognitive Dissonance’ explains how and why people change their ideas and opinions to support situations that do not appear to be healthy, positive, or normal. In the theory, an individual seeks to reduce information or opinions that make him or her uncomfortable. Even though we might find ourselves in a foolish or difficult situation, few want to admit that fact – the more you invest (income, job, home, time, effort, etc.) the stronger your need to justify your position.”

Dr. Carver explains, “Studies tell us we are more loyal and committed to something that is difficult, uncomfortable, and even humiliating. The initiation rituals of college fraternities, Marine boot camp, and graduate school all produce loyal and committed individuals.”

Add Windows IT professionals to the list of pledges, recruits, and grad students. Emotional Investment, Dr. Carver explains, is the key, “We’ve invested so many emotions, cried so much, and worried so much that we feel we must see the relationship through to the finish.”

My poor IT friend. He’s ill. Dr. Carver writes, “The combination of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ and ‘cognitive dissonance’ produces a victim who firmly believes the relationship is not only acceptable, but also desperately needed for their survival. The victim feels they would mentally collapse if the relationship ended. In long-term relationships, the victims have invested everything and placed ‘all their eggs in one basket.’ The relationship now decides their level of self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional health.”

I could go on, but my point has probably made many times over by now. So, how do we break the abused from the abuser? According to Dr. Carver it is a complex problem that may require counseling and professional help. In my case, I just sent along my first draft of this article anonymously. Drastic, maybe, but I don’t have an extended period of time here. That was 10 days ago. I’m not going to mention Apple or Mac to him for a while, but I’ve noticed that he’s no longer visibly recoiling at the sight of my PowerBook anymore. A small step, but it seems to be in the right direction.

The above Take is a verbatim reprint from a MacDailyNews article, published on December 20, 2003, “Defending Windows over Mac a sign of mental illness”, which just gets more blatantly true with each passing day.

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Martin L.” for the heads up.]


  1. PC World has little credibility regarding anything involving Microsoft – much like MDN. I have upgraded 3 Vista installs with Windows 7 (Including one on iMac) without any issues. I would suggest most of those having a problem have failed to follow the install directions. Otherwise, doesn’t sound like any bigger problem than those who experienced issues upgrading to Snow Leopard.

  2. I swear I have been reading this same article for twenty years. Each time it comes up I suffer a bout of cognitive dissonance which is only dispelled by looking at a calendar to verify that time has passed and then I look around to verify I am not still in a university lab trying to explain to the professors, grad students, other staff as well as under grads, that the mac will do anything they need to do at a lower tco over ms crap.

    20 years!

  3. I tried once again to get Windows 7 running on my 4-year old Shuttle. Video still sucks (still no drivers newer than XP); network controllers still not supported, even with the official W7 rollout. So I’ll be ordering a copy of Solaris. At least *that* I know is supported.

  4. What is a product key? Oh yes, something you require when you over charge a customer for a mediocre product and want to make them think they got something really special — so special it needs to be authorized for use by their big bro computers. By the way, while talking about rip-offs, why do you have to pay for internet access at a $160 a night Hyatt when the Days Inn down the block gives it to you free with your $85 a night room?

  5. I used to be one of the sad Microsoft followers till I was so fedup with typical issues that I switched to mac. Now life is great and it’s fun converting others to the macworld. Some souls cannot be saved.

  6. There is also the possibility that there are a bunch of students trying to get something for nothing and they are sharing product keys and/or trying to load the OS on a device that can’t handle it.
    I’m a life long Mac user – but you can never discount the flakiness of people when it comes to their computers. Microsoft brings it on themselves – but still – I’ll wager that most of these people would buy a Mac if they had the cash and they are trying to get by “on the cheap” and blaming all their problems on MS. It’s just not fair, only half their problems can be blamed on MS.

  7. A colleague of mine, quite knowledgeable in computer matters, shoved a 4th clean fresh disk into his Mac Pro, which would become the W7 partition, mainly for software testing etc.
    So: fresh install of W7 Professional Ultimate (the whole deal), which cost him the better part of last weekend: a series of BSOD during install, which could be traced back to a faulty driver for the NVIDIA card (though officially supported by MS, and taken from the W7 DVD).
    Some magic, some cursing, and thanks to the Mac partition to read stuff on the all-knowing fora online, he did find a way round it, got W7 to install, run (and immediately requiring some tweaking to make sure that it would keep on using the downloaded NVIDIA driver).
    Apart from that, he said, it runs – but dog-gone slow (and that’s on a full-spec Quad-Core 2007 Mac Pro).
    Though it apparently looks rather nice (as in: well copied from OSX), the computer spends quite a lot of time thinking what to do next, leaving its user wondering whether he did or did not yet click that button.
    It should simply be flying, certainly on a machine like that.

    Too bad for M$, good news for the Mac community (wonder if there will be again a quicker rate of adoption of Macs, like we had with Vista)

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