We finally replaced our 4-year-old Windows Me computer with a new Dell (I’d had enough of building computers a few weeks ago) and it arrived yesterday. Katie had already asked me to upgrade her Mac while she made pizza for an office party. I had planned to finish installing Tiger first, but once you get past a couple of options and the EULA it’s all a matter of waiting for it to finish.

There’s something oddly exhilarating about simultaneously setting up both a Mac and a PC.

Of course I spent the next few hours registering the pre-installed software and updating everything. Run Windows Update. Reboot. Run LiveUpdate for Norton Internet Security. Reboot. Run Office Update (twice). It’s nice that Dell will pre-install stuff for you, but given that the computer is built to order, you’d think they could apply the updates before shipping.

With today’s hostile internet, it would greatly benefit not just new computer owners but the world at large if Microsoft (and Apple and Red Hat, while we’re at it) would take a cue from SuSE and Mandrake and tie their update systems into the setup process.

To Microsoft’s credit, Windows XP setup gives you a chance to turn on automatic updates, and recommends it to the point of “Well, if you really want to turn it off, you can, but you’ll be sorry!” And I’m reasonably certain Windows Firewall was turned on by default (i.e. it’s on now, and I don’t remember turning it on), though Norton supersedes a lot of its functionality. Depending on the default firewall rules, that should mitigate the impact of any worms that happen to pick your IP address before you run Windows Update.

Correction: It seems Windows Firewall wasn’t on as I thought. Norton Personal Firewall kept asking me whether I wanted to disable redundant rules (makes sense) or disable Windows Firewall entirely (I told it no—twice), so I assumed it was running. I hope it was only off because Norton was pre-installed.

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