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Why I Hate Microsoft

I do not actually HATE Microsoft. I just wrote that headline to get your attention. I even met Bill Gates once and thought he was a really nice guy. Besides, it would be unprofessional of me to be less than objective about a company that I cover day in and day out. And full disclosure requires me to state that over the last 20 years I have received and used copious quantities of free hardware and software from Microsoft (including a special commemorative model of the pistol-grip Microsoft mouse
I do not actually HATE Microsoft. I just wrote that headline to get your attention. I even met Bill Gates once and thought he was a really nice guy. Besides, it would be unprofessional of me to be less than objective about a company that I cover day in and day out. And full disclosure requires me to state that over the last 20 years I have received and used copious quantities of free hardware and software from Microsoft (including a special commemorative model of the pistol-grip Microsoft mouse with my name engraved on a plaque on the bottom that I still think is really cool even though none of my computers have a connector to fit it anymore).

But every once in a while Microsoft does something that just ANNOYS me. And just now it did it again.I thought I'd try out the beta version of OneCare Live, so I went to download it. But it's not that easy. When I wanted to try Google's Desktop Search, I found the download and installed it. When I wanted to try ThinkFree Office, I found the download and installed it. When I wanted to try . . . well,you get the idea. I try a lot of software. It's my job.

So did I find the download of OneCare Live and install it? Don't I wish. I tried. I clicked on the download button and was asked to either enter my email address or use my MSN account. I don't have an MSN account. I did once, because I had a Hotmail account and then Microsoft bought Hotmail and started charging for it and made it so hard to keep your free Hotmail account active that I got really ANNOYED about the whole thing and I've avoided MSN ever since.

So I entered my email address and guess what? The next thing I'm asked for is my date of birth and occupation and job title and just about everything but my shoe size because, the screen tells me, my experience will be much more personalized. What experience? Do I really want a close relationship with a software program that removes keyloggers?

No, it turns out I'm actually creating an MSN account after all, even though I didn't want to. So I do what any normal person would do. I lie. I lie about everything but my email address. And then I click continue. And the screen says something like, "Because your birthdate indicates you are a child, click here to have a parent approve your use of the MSN service."

I don't WANT to use the MSN service. I just want to download some beta software. So instead I click on the the link that says "I'm an adult, why am I seeing this?" and the new page asks me to enter a credit card number it can verify. Do I? No way. If I won't give MSN my birthday no way I'm giving it my credit card number.

I back out. and click on the link that says, "I'm this kid's parent." The screen says that in order to approve my child's use of the service I have to enter my own MSN account information. Which, of course, I don't have.

So I back up and try the other way. I enter my credit card number. I'm certified as an adult. I log in to go for the download. But first I have to change my birthdate. So I lie again, in the other direction this time. Which wastes a couple of minutes because I picked Sept. 31, 1927, and the system makes me redo it because there is no Sept. 31.

(This is clearly a developer problem. If some coder is so smart they can tell I've picked an invalid date, why aren't they smart enough to just make it impossible to pick an invalid date in the first place?)

Finally I get to the download button. I click it. I wait. "No can do," says the screen. "You aren't asking from a machine that's running Windows XP. OneCare Live works only with Windows XP."

I email the URL for the download page to myself, then go to my XP laptop, retrieve the URL (no way I'm going to navigate to there again), paste it into a browser window and click on "Download." Finally.

Finally? Wrong. The screen says something like, "You have been foolish enough to install security software from another vendor. You must uninstall this offensive software and restart your computer in order to download OneCare Live."

Uninstall my security software? Just to try a beta package that may or may not even work right? I'll disable it, turn it off temporarily. But uninstall it? No thank you. How ANNOYING. And while I'm on the subject of annoyance, RESTART MY COMPUTER? DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG MY LAPTOP TAKES TO BOOT UP IN YOUR WINDOWS?

Instead I close the browser window and walk away. Slowly. Back at my other PC I open Firefox 1.5. (Did I say I just found the download for Firefox and installed it today? Great browser.) I verified that, yes, I sure had been hornswoggled into creating an MSN account I didn't want. So I went to MSN Help and searched on "delete account." No help. "Remove account." No help. "Close." No help. Just a tiny bit ANNOYING.

I hope to publish a review of Microsoft OneCare Live for you here in Desktop Pipeline sometime real soon. But I won't be writing it. Because I won't be installing the software. Ever.