Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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7/19/2006
11:49 AM
David  DeJean
David DeJean
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The 'Drama Queen' of Software Installations

I have installed a lot of PC software. A LOT of software. Back in the day it was a piece of cake: copy the EXE file, add it to your path statement, maybe edit a little parameters file, and you were good to go. Windows, of course, changed all that. The typical Windows installation has become a production worthy of Cecil B. DeMille, with the blessings and curses of the license agreement, the shriek of your hard drive as temp files are copied, directories initialize, cab files spring into being, r

I have installed a lot of PC software. A LOT of software. Back in the day it was a piece of cake: copy the EXE file, add it to your path statement, maybe edit a little parameters file, and you were good to go.

Windows, of course, changed all that. The typical Windows installation has become a production worthy of Cecil B. DeMille, with the blessings and curses of the license agreement, the shriek of your hard drive as temp files are copied, directories initialize, cab files spring into being, registry entries are set, and DLLs are sprinkled across your hard disk like seed across a field. Thermometer graphics rise and fall, progress meters progress, desktop icons are created, and registration information is extracted from you like molars.

But for a truly epic installation, I have to give the Oscar for Best Drama to Symantec's Norton Internet Security upgrade. I just went through it not once, but twice. It is longer than the death scene from "Camille," and more emotionally draining. Is it going to start? Do I have enough disk space? What is it doing now? Will it ever, ever, ever end?Finally, of course, it does end. And it's not a good end, either, because for unknown reasons the laptop I was upgrading lost its scanner drivers and the upgrade cut me off from my wireless network. And all this entertainment for only $49.95! What a bargain!

The network thing was an easy fix because it required knowledge so hard-won I'm not about to forget it any time soon. When first I set up a WiFi router nothing worked. Fortunately the documentation hinted that I might have to know the IP addresses of the other PCs on the network. What exactly I was supposed to do with this information wasn't clear, but a Google search set me on the right track, and buried deep inside the personal firewall configuration for Internet Security I found a place to whitelist the IP addresses I would permit to access my PC. With the upgrade, it took me only half an hour or so of cursing and struggle to remember those crucial steps and repeat them. Problem solved.

But why should I have had to repeat them at all? Why doesn't Symantec's upgrade copy such obvious configuration settings into the new version?

The scanner driver thing cost me an afternoon of work, because I had taken my laptop and scanner offsite to do some work. No luck. Downloading the driver from the Internet on another PC, burning a disk, copying it onto my laptop and running the install? No luck. Only back at home, after I had removed all the driver software and reinstalled it from the original disk did my scanner come to life again.

The second time I sat through the install was over the weekend, when my wife tried to upgrade her PC, an antiquated x86 box with a 4GB hard drive that she won't give up. It took her hours just to clear off enough disk space to download the install file, and hours more to run it, jump through all its hoops, sit through all its disk scans, restarts, updates, more restarts, and repeat.

Oh, and one other thing. About a third of the way into the labyrinth, the install tells me it has detected incompatible software I should remove from my PC. And what was this incompatible software? A competing anti-adware app. Why would it be incompatible? I can't imagine. I suspect it may just be better, and Symantec doesn't want the competition.

I've spent the $49.99 and I'm good for a year -- which gives Symantec a year to convince me that they can do better, because I don't need all this drama.

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