Installing software is often a miserable experience (even with Apple!)

business and consumers, technology

This entry about a fella’s (nasty) experience installing Quicktime made me both chuckle and nod in understanding.

Apple has a reputation of being so easy to use, so consumer friendly, so I gotta ask: what the $&@#! were those folks smoking when they went ahead with this install process? This is about as consumer-hostile as you get. It’s annoying and downright rude.

In fairness, Apple’s not the only company that should be forced to sit in a corner and repent. Other misbehaving miscreants include AOL and Real; I installed the most recent beta version of AIM only so I could play with the new Plaxo integration (which is actually slick and damn cool [see disclaimer]), but I sure as hell didn’t want a stupid Web browser (“AOL Explorer”) piggybacked on top, nor did I ask to have AIM sit in my system tray and be present upon every Windows startup. And regarding the Real Player, well… despite being very tempted to install it so I can watch some in-Real-format-only clips on the Web, I’ve put off sullying my new computer, ’cause I remember what a splatting mess the install was last time.

Look, companies, I know many of you have quasi-monopolies or oligopolies, but these are fleeting. Honest. I truly believe you’re going to get your butts kicked on the ground if you continue to treat your users — especially influential geeks — like saps who are expected to just roll over and accept all of your default system changes and detritus.

There are lots of awesome programs that do behave themselves: asking the user if they’d like to have things run at startup or if they’d like icons placed here or there. Some of the install processes even include prominent AND NON-LEGALESED terms of service, so we don’t have to either scroll through 478 lines of gooblygook or worry about what happens if we just ignore it.

* * *

It may take a while, but we users will win in the end. So, dear companies, now is the time to do the right thing… before it’s too late. Earn our trust, serve our needs and (maybe) then we’ll be amenable to your upgrade offers and cross-promotions. Get us to love, not hate, your brand and you’ll be rewarded in the long term.

4 comments… add one
  • Jeff (Switcher since 10/2004) Oct 18, 2005

    If you don’t fill in your e-mail address at the Apple download page, you won’t be prompted for all the e-mail notifications. The install routine does allow you to disable it as the default player for your media files.

    Coincidentally, it was iTunes that turned me on to seeing how superior the Apple experience can be. I didn’t own an iPod first and then the Mac – for me, it was the other way around.

  • Tom Oct 19, 2005

    Once again you make some excellent points. I use ‘Real Alternative’ to play real media files, saves installing that bloatware :-). It’s simply Windows Media Player classic with real player plugins. As for AOL, don’t get me started on them! lol.

  • Adam Oct 19, 2005

    Thanks for the info, Tom!  Here’s a link:
    http://www.free-codecs.com/download/Real_Alternative.htm

  • Kelly Oct 21, 2005

    The user is king!  …and should be treated as such.  Take Google (whose stock is soaring) for instance.  What other free email service doesn’t add a footer onto every message saying get your own [insert service] free email account!

What do you think?