So now that I finally have managed to restore my PC to more or less where it was before the crash, it’s time to reflect on the error of my ways.
Lesson #1: The Windows XP default look is fine..really. Stop messing with it, when you know you are going to switch back in 1 day. If you get tired of the default, use signed skins like Royale. That’s pretty much all you are going to need.
Lesson #2: Don’t try funny things when travelling – losing your computer when away from your usual network is an unmitigated pain in the ass.
Lesson #3: The Files & Settings Transfer Wizard of XP is very limited. I installed almost all my programs as a local administrator. When I got back on the network, I applied a file generated in the Local admin login using the Settings Wizard, but most programs refused to work till I reinstalled them in my Network ID. The Wizard only applied my theme and some other limited stuff. Switching User IDs in Windows is still painful.
Lesson #4: SVS Altiris is not the software virtualization tool I was looking for. I was hoping that I could create a layer for every software I install on my PC after applying the security updates and installing MS-Office. My hope was then when the time came to hand in my laptop, I would remove all the layers from SVS and my laptop would revert to the vanilla setup that my company uses.
Unfortuantely, SVS does not handle multiple layers well (you have to deactivate one to activate another), it doesn’t install itself as a service (which means a program that launches on startup and you have virtualized will fail till SVS activates) and many programs and installs slow down like crazy once you virtualize.
The dream of clean uninstalls in Windows is still a long way off.