Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

Microsoft Outlook Software Connector; not for those who can't read?

Initially we were amazed by the number of people writing that the OSC beta crashed their copy of Outlook, because the information that you had to uninstall the first beta was right there on the Downloads page, and briefly referred to on the Download Complete page that you got directed to. They were easy to miss - Simon didn't spot them first time around - because if you just clicked Download instead of reading about what you were about to do, you only got a brief one line that again, your eyes could glaze over. After a bunch of us pointing this out, Microsoft has made the instructions on the second page much harder to miss - though I'm sure some people still will. The problem is that the monkey is already trained.

Read the instructions? The manual? The FAQ? For years the Web has been training us to click that button! click it! click it now! Click for the survey! Click for the download! Click away the security warning! Click! Click!

All those people who said a Windows Update made their system blue screen, when it actually blue screened because they had a rootkit (and for all those people who insist that there are no security improvements in Vista over XP or 7 over Vista, the reason the systems crashed is that the rootkit was patching the kernel and telling it to load a legitimate executable to disguise itself but the code wasn't in the same place when the PC rebooted - that's part of the address randomisation that Microsoft introduced in Vista and extended to basically all the kernel pieces in 7); at some point they probably clicked on something without reading it... 

When you're installing software, yes the installer should say one more time what you need to have done - or even check that you've done it. When you're building beta software that's not intended for the general public (a public beta doesn't mean the software is for everyone, it means it's for those who feel comfortable trying something that by definition is not finished), the temptation not to add extra time and work that you could spend fixing a bug or writing another feature must be huge. But these days, I guess we all have to assume that no-one will read the instructions if they can just click and expect the system to do the right thing.

Or maybe nobody will read anything longer than 140 characters now...

And the only people who would have had to uninstall the previous version are those using the beta of Office 2010. And, er, that's 2.5 million people. If they all buy it Office will have the same quarter Windows 7 just did...  
Tags: microsoft, office, office 2010, outlook, rant, rtfm

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