In the past few weeks I purchased some new Anti-virus and Firewall software from ESET to replace my expiring & bloated AVG install. The first machine to get the upgrade was my XP desktop machine; everything went well. I was impressed with the lighter feel to the software and the added fact that it didn't seem to be hogging the system resources quite as much. A weeks trial later I decided it was stable and usable enough to be used on my laptop; running Windows Vista. The install was painless and the software scanned my system and there were no obvious issues.
The problems arose when I came to reboot the machine following some windows updates and some minor web application updates. The machine would boot to the login screen and allow me to login. A few seconds later the blank screen with cursor appeared and I began the wait for the rest of the desktop to appear; it never arrived. Booting into safe mode was the only way of getting access to the system. After much trial and error I resorted to crawling the forums for an answer, the problem seems to be related to some windows updates altering the way Vista handles network shares which in turn breaks the way the security software loads at startup. Since I had paid for the software I didn't want to remove it and be left without any protection. My solution was to change the service setting for the ESET software, changing it from Automatic to Delayed Automatic. The downside to this is that you can end up being connected to a network before your security is up and running, by my guess this would be about 2 minutes at most. It is unlikely the system would be attacked and compromised in that time but it could still happen. My only hope is that it gets sorted out in an update from either ESET or Microsoft.
My main complaint with the whole issue is the lack of information provided to the user when something like this goes wrong. Linux in contrast has a better startup method, it lists the modules and services as they load and shows if they fail, this can ofcourse be hidden behind a splash screen but can be made viewable if needed. Error messages are a good thing, they may not look nice but they can give the user or person assisting the user a clue of where to begin to solve the problem. So once I have finished typing this post I'm going to reboot my laptop and load up the Gentoo Linux installation instead.