On an upgrade, we maintain

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/02/23 01:15 -08:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/michkap/archive/2006/02/23/537696.aspx


It may seem to you like deja vu all over again, But I am going to once again quote a bit of Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams, just as I did in this post:

Ford Prefect hit the ground running. The ground was about three inches farther from the ventilation shaft than he remmbered it, so he misjudged the point at which he would hit the ground, started running too soon, stumbled awkwardly and twisted his ankle. Damn! He ran off down the corridor anyway, hobbling slightly.

All over the building, alarms were erupting into their usual frenzy of excitement. He dove for cover behind the usual storage cabinets, glanced around to check that he was unseen and started rapidly to fish around inside his satchel for the usual things he needed.

His ankle, unusually, was hurting like hell.

The ground was not only three inches farther from the ventilation shaft than he remembered it, it was also on a different planet that he remembered, but it was the three inches that caught him by surprise. The offices of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy were quite often shifted at very short notice to another planet, for reasons of local climate, local hostility, power bills or taxes, but they were always reconstructed exactly the same way, almost to the very molecule. For many of the company's executives, the layout of their offices represented the only constant they knew in a severely distorted personal universe.

Something, though, was odd.

This was not in itself surprising, thought Ford as he pulled out his lightweight throwing towel. Virtually everything in his life was, to a greater of lesser extent, odd. It was just that this was odd in a slightly different way than he was used to things being odd, which was, well, strange. He couldn't quite get it into focus immediately.

Upgrading Windows is a big deal.

I mean, an operating system is not the sort of thing that most people pay a lot of attention to, it is a foundation piece.

Buying a new copy of Windows and then installing it on a machine you already have can be a traumatic experience.

So one decision that was made a long time ago in Windows is that large parts of what is stored in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER section of the registry (which represents the user's settings) would survive the otherwise traumatic process of the upgrade.

Of course the user locale settings make up a small part of that preserved section.

Perhaps it is something that some people would not notice, especially in a situation where the whole world is changing that way. But in a way I guess we'd like to feel that if we did fail to preserve those setting that it could be a bit like Ford Prefect's situation with the unexpected location of the ground....

If you know what I mean? :-)

(Ok, now for a little Windows trivia!)

Of course there is one exception to this principle, one time that we did make a change to existing settings. Does anyone know what that one time is?

 

This post brought to you by "∂" (U+2202, a.k.a. PARTIAL DIFFERENTIAL)


# Ben Cooke on Thursday, February 23, 2006 1:06 PM:

> Buying a new copy of Windows and then installing it on a machine you already have can be a traumatic experience.

...and this, my friend, is why I still run Windows 2000! Now that I routinely use Windows XP at work, I know rather than suspect that things would not go smoothly. For one thing, I've become very accustomed to using the PCMag utility ButtonBoogie which breaks in Windows XP due to the fact that the taskbar was changed from a tab panel to a toolbar control. Hacking ButtonBoogie to work with Windows XP's fancy new taskbar is something that is perpetually on my to-do list, but I can't do that because I don't use Windows XP! Sigh.

(This is not the only thing holding me back, but is the most important.)

# Michael S. Kaplan on Thursday, February 23, 2006 1:38 PM:

Hmmm.... no takers on that one time, even for a guess? :-(

I understand where you are coming from, Ben -- but I always try to avoid dependencies like that. They act too much like crutches and I'd rather be effective on any machine, if I can.

Plus I like expanded international support. :-)

# evilgwyn on Thursday, February 23, 2006 2:07 PM:

Hey ben,

it looks like ButtonBoogie 2 supports XP.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1901633,00.asp

# Maurits on Thursday, February 23, 2006 2:08 PM:

What exactly is the question?  Guess which user setting was intentionally changed across a Windows upgrade?

# Maurits on Thursday, February 23, 2006 2:15 PM:

OK, I have a guess.  In Windows XP, you changed the "currency" setting to "euro" for all locales that adopted the euro.

# Maurits on Thursday, February 23, 2006 3:05 PM:

Speaking of such things, is there a Windows Update in the works to accomodate the Daylight Savings Time change for 2007?

# Michael S. Kaplan on Thursday, February 23, 2006 3:21 PM:

Hi Maurits --

I'll be talking about the time zone thing soon.

For the Euro, upgrade will not change the Euro, but Windows Update will end prompt to install the tool that will update to use the Euro, as an opt-in choice.

But that was a good guess. We are still looking for a time that Microsoft chose to update a user's local preferences on upgrade....

# Paul on Thursday, February 23, 2006 4:23 PM:

Ummm if your original installation was say Windows 2000 English and you upgraded to Windows XP Japanese?

Have the names/languages/currencies/dateformat/timeformat of any countries changed between 2000 and XP?

More information would be useful ... is this specifically when you are upgrading to XP? From 2000? Or from NT? Or both?

If I am to answer the question as is (Of course there is one exception to this principle, one time that we did make a change to existing settings. Does anyone know what that one time is?)

I'd say when upgrading from Windows 95 to 2000. :)

# Michael S. Kaplan on Thursday, February 23, 2006 4:37 PM:

Hi Paul,

An upgrade won't change your settings that were there before, even in the more extreme (upgrade from Win95) type scenaros. But it is another good guess. :-)

# Dean Harding on Thursday, February 23, 2006 4:56 PM:

I'm pretty sure that it was when you updagraded from Windows 2000 to Windows XP, if your screen resolution was set to 640x480, it upped it to 800x600.

# Michael S. Kaplan on Thursday, February 23, 2006 5:04 PM:

Hi Dean!

I think I was focusing on changes in international stuff. :-)

# Dean Harding on Thursday, February 23, 2006 5:56 PM:

Hehe, fair enough!

Well, I don't know enough about international changes to know the answer to *that* one, then :p~

# James Todd on Thursday, February 23, 2006 6:54 PM:

I'm going to guess that it has to do with keyboard layout preferences. (Wild guess, so no worries either way.)

James

# Michael S. Kaplan on Thursday, February 23, 2006 7:17 PM:

Hi James,

A great guess! But no, it is not that, either. I'll post the answer in a few hours, I think.

# Maurits on Thursday, February 23, 2006 8:28 PM:

Is it:

Two-digit years are interpreted as between 1930 and 2029 (Windows 98)

to

Two-digit years are interpreted as between 1950 and 2049 (Windows 2000?)

Failing that, is it related to a political change combining two locales into a new one?

# Michael S. Kaplan on Thursday, February 23, 2006 9:11 PM:

Hi Maurits --

None of the above specifically, though you are very very close to what was actually changed in your first two guesses there (but not the third) !

# Ben Cooke on Friday, February 24, 2006 2:53 AM:

evilgwyn,
Thanks for the pointer! I gave up looking for that, it seems, only a few months before they actually got around to it!

Michael,
I guess it's a personal taste thing. I can live without the "crutch" if I need to, but I'd rather not on the machines that I spend most of my time using. It's handy being able to rely on muscle memory to find my most-used apps because they are always in the same places. On other people's machines my most-used apps aren't generally available anyway. :)

This is, of course, off-topic... but since as stated I've never actually upgraded to Windows XP -- and I'm using an English install of Windows anyway -- I couldn't begin to guess the answer to this question! I guess you can think of my earlier post as an admission that I have no idea! :)

# Michael S. Kaplan on Friday, February 24, 2006 3:02 AM:

See my other post to find out what the answer was, Ben. :-)

referenced by

2008/05/06 By some accounts, the names can be changed

2007/05/13 There is no more Limonata at Trader Joe's

2006/02/23 The exception that proves the rule

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