I thought I traced my Windows 0.7 printing problem to the presence of a USB bluetooth adapter, but it turned out that was wrong. My wife called about mid-day to say the machine wasn’t printing anymore.

Fortunately, I’d never gotten around to downgrading my netbook from Windows XP to Windows 0.7. It saved the day.

With no parallel port, obviously I can’t connect my HP Laserjet 4100 directly to it. But I had a Jetdirect box collecting dust in the basement. So I unplugged the useless Windows 0.7 PC from my LAN, plugged in the Jetdirect box, and plugged the printer into the Jetdirect box. Then I set up a TCP/IP network printer on the netbook and printed a test page. Then I installed her postage printing software. It all worked the first time, and took about 30 minutes, including the time to download the postage software.

I spent longer than that just coaxing the Windows 0.7 machine to print two packing slips.

I had half a mind to drag my lone remaining Windows ME box up from the basement and set it up to get the work done. It would be poetic justice, but the Jetdirect box takes up less room and only required me to move two cables. And I don’t know whether the postage printing software would run under ME. Why do I still have a Windows ME box around? It would have been a marginal 2000 or XP box, so I never bothered to upgrade it.

So the netbook is working well enough to buy me some time. I have no idea where my slipstreamed Windows XP with SP3 wandered off to, so I’ll have to make another one. I can spend some time one evening doing that, then spend some time another evening upgrading from Windows 0.7 back to XP SP3, and maybe by Wednesday or Thursday I can get back to the magazine article I want to finish. I’m through doing Microsoft’s beta testing for them.

When Windows 0.7 gains the ability to print two documents consecutively without rebooting–something even the simplest computer could do 30 years ago–I’ll consider giving it another look if I’m feeling charitable.

If the $110 sale price on the Windows 0.7 family pack is tempting you, don’t bother. It’s not worth 1/10 that. Since the video driver subsystem doesn’t work, it’s worthless for playing games, and you can’t print from it either.

If my wife didn’t have to reply on that postage printing application, I’d be in the process of converting every machine in the house to Ubuntu right now and never looking back. I suppose I could get that to run under WINE. I’m sure it’s completely unsupported, but that’s better than not working at all. Short-term, XP SP3 is probably my best bet. I’ve installed XP several dozen times and the only issue I ever had with that was getting it to recognize a firewire card. That’s a lot easier to live with.

I guess John Hodgman was right. Windows 0.7 doesn’t have any of the problems XP had. It has new ones.