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My rebate check plans were simple: buy a new computer to replace my old one that was dying a slow, painful (for me) death. I spent weeks pouring over ads, reviews and tedious discussions of which feature was important to me. Sure, I'd heard Vista had some problems. Yes, I have a TV and have seen the John Hodgman commercials for Mac. But I didn't think it would be THAT bad. XP was no dreamboat, either.

Wrong. Within hours we saw the blue screen of death. I say we because my husband David gallantly volunteered to spare me the grueling hardship that everyone knows is migrating to a new computer. But soon I was seeing the blue screen of death every morning. Vista seemed to be allergic to both my newish printer and Macromedia Dreamweaver, an expensive web-editing program. Replacing them would cost $600. The whole new computer was $800. Did I want to blow half my rebate check just to accommodate Vista?

First I tried to negotiate with Vista. I compromised. I removed the printer and Dreamweaver. Vista was appeased. I figured I'd run the limping XP computer as my ambassador to the XP world of my printer and Dreamweaver. What seemed like a simple task, took days and much grief. Meanwhile, Vista grew angry and started flashing me the blue screen of death for reasons not clear to me. I removed a few more programs, but had to return it.

For a while it looked like I would be spending a good chunk of my rebate check on a restocking fee, but Circuit City got into the computer, saw the error message I was getting and accepted the return with no charge.

Now I am left with the whole rebate check (minus a purchase of Norton -- you knew they would get their hooks in anyway, didn't you?), the desire for a new computer and nowhere to turn. Some XP machines are available at Dell, used ones abound. Big companies are saying no to Vista. Everyone is saying no to Vista. But Microsoft doesn't want to hear it. I now stop what I'm doing and laugh at the brilliant satire of those John Hodgman ads.

My Mac friends, of course, saw this as an opportunity to recruit me to their cult. There are signs Vista could be hurting the whole PC market. Computer sales were up only 3% by the first quarter of this year since last year, according to Gartner. Apple saw a 33% growth over the same period. Gartner predicts Apple's market share will double by 2011. Will Vista scare everyone to converting to Mac?


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