Maybe it would be simpler if we had a single computer in the house. Our reality is that we have enough computers and computer equipment in the house to run a small business - and they all get frequent use. Computers are an integral part of our household, and they are certainly the most used electrical appliance in the house. But unlike a TV set, current computer technology requires constant maintenance and upkeep.
Our computers are all networked (mostly wirelessly), printers are shared, Media Centers are scheduled to record TV shows (that never get watched), individual user accounts are setup for each member of the household as well as frequent guests. Add on top of that the need to update both system and application software - which every company seems to have their own update mechanism. There is enough work here to keep an IT person occupied most of the week. Unfortunately, I am the IT department, and the work must be squeezed into busy weekends - with sleep often being the looser in this process.
In our household at least, the typical maintenance shores (mowing the lawn, yard work, house repair, car repair, etc...) have been replaced with computer maintenance shores: data backup, wireless coverage, replacing print cartridges, system optimization, software updates, software installation, etc. You would think that you could get the machines installed once and leave them alone after that. But the reality is very different. This problem unfortunately is not unique to Windows users, I am running into similar issues with my Macs. This week alone I have had to update iTunes, Safari, Etco, and Graphics Converter. And I am not even counting replacing the trial software with full licensed versions.
When are we going to see computers that can really be used by the general population with little or no human maintenance required?
Maybe there is a great business opportunity here somewhere: remote system management for household computers. Until then, I continue to spend a significant par to my weekend optimizing our computer to ensure that they will run smoothly over the rest of the week.
The industry as a whole needs a wake-up call in this respect. I hope both Apple and Microsoft are investing a lot of time and effort on making their respective operating system much easier to use and operate over the course of time. And I hope the process they come up with can be extended to ISVs so users have a single place to go for all system/softare maintenance.