Sigh.

Windows Vista has a handy feature called Problem Reports and Solutions that pops up when the system detects you've had a problem and tries to offer up a solution (thus the name). Sounds great, right?

The problem (ahem) is, more often than not, the suggested solution is useless.

For example, I just turned on my PC and got the following four suggested solutions via a pop-up window:

Download updates for iTunes
Download updates for iTunes
Problem caused by Flash Player
Solution found

I was so excited until I found out that none of them really solved any problems.

The first two, obviously, are for the same problem. They both note that "a newer version of this software is available for download" and provides a link to Apple.com. Neat. But I always run the latest version of iTunes. And sure enough, there's no update, and I'm already running the latest version. From a more pedantic standpoint, the download link goes to the main iTunes download page which, let's face it, isn't an "update" at all. It's just the regular (full) download.

Solution number three was the most helpful. The version of the Flash Player on my system was 9.0.115.0. The version on Adobe's Web site, to which it directed me, was 9.0.124.0. That said, I don't recall any Flash-related problems. I'll upgrade, of course. I hope it requires a reboot.

Solution four is the worst one. Navigating to this solution, I was told that the "problem was caused by a missing driver for Intel Quick Resume Technology, which was created by Intel Corporation." The solution, of course, is to visit Windows Update and download the driver. But the application actually links to the Web-based version of Windows Update, which doesn't even work in Windows Vista (!!!!) ... How the heck would a normal PC user know to launch Windows Update manually? Certainly not from the error message on the loaded Web page, which reads as follows:

Thank you for your interest in obtaining updates from our site.

To use this site, you must be running Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 or later.

To upgrade to the latest version of the browser, go to the Internet Explorer Downloads website.

If you prefer to use a different web browser, you can obtain updates from the Microsoft Download Center or you can stay up to date with the latest critical and security updates by using Automatic Updates. To turn on Automatic Updates:

  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then click Security.
  2. Click Security Center, and then make sure Automatic updating is turned on.

To enhance the security and performance of your computer, make sure Windows automatic updating is not turned off.

Wow. That advice is completely bogus ... if you're using Firefox as I am. (It works if IE is your default browser.)

So... what happens when I run Windows Update, you ask? Nothing, of course. The updated driver isn't there.

Come on, Microsoft. Seriously.