I’m Upset With Windows Again

I am helping many students working on PowerPoint and Dreamweaver projects this week. Many of the questions are perfectly appropriate for students who are mastering these two multimedia applications for the first time — lost support files, broken links, confusing local and remote files, etc. As the previous list suggests, nearly all of the problems are encountered in Dreamweaver. Most of the PowerPoint questions involve “eye candy,” such as clever animated transitions and including video files in slides, but that’s material for another rant.

Today, a student brought a basic PowerPoint problem to my attention. PowerPoint was not allowing him to insert clip art into his slides. The error message was “Cannot create a picture from this file.” After many hours, my network admin traced the problem to a helper application that convert Windows metafiles into document artwork. The problem only occurs in a managed user environment. When students are given local administrator privileges to their computers, then the problem goes away.

The problem is: Why does a Microsoft application not allow a basic operation when running in a managed Microsoft network environment? This makes me want to throw all of our Microsoft licenses out the window. Fortunately, our netadmin spent a lot of time a couple of years ago setting up a reasonably restrictive group policy for students so that granting local system administrative rights to students will not significantly compromise network security or allow students to run virus or game applications.

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