Monday, June 17, 2002

Today, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 5.2 for Mac OS X.    No major changes beyond anti-aliased text and a slew of security related fixes (at least, that Microsoft will admit-- as is usual, the release is completely devoid of useful release notes).   Nothing spectacular or earth shaking -- there are better browsers on the platform (OmniWeb, Mozilla, and Chimera immediately come to mind).

However, the installation process provides an excellent example of how not to install software on the platform.   First, that the installation process requires administrative privileges is not a problem-- IE is provided as a part of the system and, therefore, is correctly installed such that user privileges should not allow for modification of the installed app.   Good.

But the good stuff ends there:

The installer insists on quitting all other applications!  That's rude and completely unnecessary.  Sure, any prior version of IE should not be running, but there is no need to quit all apps.   It is rude, intrusive, and stinks of computing days that should be behind us.

Once installed, the user discovers that IE has switched the home page preference to point to, no surprise,   Again-- rude and obnoxious behavior.  Don't screw with user defaults in less you have a damned good reason.   Marketing is not a damned good reason, especially when your marketing efforts could be disruptive to quite a number of users (for those that pay for their Internet service, IE will force a connection the first time it is launched after upgrade... there are other examples of potential disruption that one could think of).

Visiting a different app and requesting an URL to be opened, one discovers that IE has set itself as the default browser.  Fortunately, this change doesn't "stick" across logins, nor is it obvious via the Network prefs pane, but until I logged out/in, the system insisted on opening URLs in IE over my default OmniWeb preference.   To be far, this could be a bug in OS X-- but I have never seen this behavior with any other browser.

Since when did torturing the user become a standard part of releasing a major piece of software?
1:52:46 PM