In the sewer of sh*tty software


I had a popup on my desktop this morning telling me there is a new version of MSN Messenger (version 7.5). I figure what the heck. After all, MSN Messenger always adds some neat new functionality, like being able to shake my friends screen remotely (the nudge functionality), so I say "yes".
 
Then, the install pops up with a plethora of choices, including the new MSN toolbar. Being the adventurous sort, I choose to install all of them (the default, by the way). Think about all of the functionality. The install then forces me to shut down every piece of Microsoft software I have opened: Microsoft Messenger, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Visual Studio (okay, so I made the last one up). It is kind of like an Oracle stating, I need full control of everything … and, "trust me!".
 
For those who have not installed the new Messenger, let me tell you some of its new features.
 
First, you get a new desktop search that appears on the start bar. Really cool, it appears a lot like a web search bar, but if you fail to state you have a web search, it completely shuts down your machine as it searches the entire disk drive for search terms. The more complex the search, the longer your computer is completely unusable. What a nice feature.
 
Next, Microsoft has stealthily added Internet Explorer 7 functionality. In a bid to keep up with Firefox, you now have tabs in Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, you have to click a plus sign to add a new tab, as Internet Explorer 6 does not have tabs natively. If you use control + N, you end up with another window, with another tab bar. And, both use a great deal of memory, which means the more windows you open, the slower your machine gets. How cool!
 
Just as soon as I can say "my computer is now completely unusuable" I came up with another plan: uninstall. It was quite easy to install this betaware (not labeled as such, so it might be early alphaware), so it should be just as easy to uninstall. The machine appears to completely stop for about three minutes and then … sorry, Greg, you have to reboot your machine. Sure, we can install without restarting, but this is tangled into too many things to actually uninstall as easily as you install.
 
I have not, as of yet, tried the IE 7 beta. This is largely due to not having a VPC image ready to test the software. I did not, however, expect Microsoft to beta test software without warning by adding a new product in the guise of a toolbar. My advice: read carefully if you are upgrading Messenger and turn all of the bloatware off.
 
For the record, I am on a Toshiba Tecra-M4 (Tablet PC with a 1.73 GHz Centrino) with 2 GB of RAM. The only beef I normally have with the machine is opening software (spoiled by the dual core machine at home), as the machine runs fast once programs are loaded. Perhaps my experience is unique to this particular machine or chipset, so you can experiment. It did at least uninstall all of the bits, so it is a safe experiment for those adventurous souls.
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