That is, “we’re going to bully you into doing what we want and count on you being too ignorant about your home computer to know that we’re full of shit”. You know, that kind of help.
So, I have McAfee’s consumer-grade protection software installed on my home PC. Lately, McAfee has been pushing out messages from the System Tray as an annoying pop-up message: A new version is available as a free upgrade, yadda, yadda, please install it. The only options are “Yes, I want to upgrade now” or “No, I want to continue doing what I was doing.”
Guess what happens when you click “No” – no really, guess.
Why, that’s right! The next day, they hit you with another pop-up!
In an effort to make them Just Go Away Now, Thank You, I finally clicked on “Yes, I want to upgrade now.” Please note that to McAfee, the value of “I want to” now apparently includes “because we’re forcing you to.”
So I clicked the “because we’re forcing you to” option, and after a couple of dialog boxes that I clicked through without paying a whole lot of attention to (McAfee having already demonstrated to me how much they give a shit about what I want or care about, eh?), the installation starts… and shortly thereafter fails. The message? Why, “Installation failed!” of course! Not what failed, or how it failed, just that it didn’t work out. Okay. Whatever. I click “OK”, nothing gets installed, and life goes on.
And the next day, I get another frigging pop-up informing me about this wonderful upgrade experience that I can get for free, yes! free my friend, if you only click here now – or do you want to continue doing what you’re doing? Jesus Christ on roller skates, people!
So wanting to see exactly what was going on, I once again clicked the “Yes, I want you to stop sending me pop-up messages if I don’t upgrade your crappy software now, you worthless pieces of shite” option (I swear: really, there’s a resource string buried in the source code that says that exactly – it’s a hidden localization option). Only this time, I’m going to pay attention to what’s going on.
Click, click, click… Aha! “The Download Manager is now scanning your system for incompatible software.” I watch the progress bar do its thing (that is to say, nothing except let me know that the software hasn’t crashed (one of my trade’s dirty little secrets)), and I get another dialog to the effect that McAfee has found incompatible software on my PC and components of their upgrade won’t be installed.
Okay, fine by me. The installer is choking on ZoneAlarm (which I know isn’t a ‘real’ firewall – but it stops the script kiddies and other obvious threats well enough) and it also objects to SE Ad-Aware. Mmmm, okay. I click “Next” to see what actually will be installed.
And no wonder the installer crashed – the presence of those two apps stop the software from installing, well, anything! Oh, this is good…
So I click “Cancel” and bop on over to McAfee’s website to see if I can figure out what’s going on. There’s a DIY help section, so I click through a couple of options to find this FAQ item:
Is there a need to uninstall other online protection programs before installing McAfee software?
The honest answer to this question, boys and girls, is “No, there isn’t a need.” The official answer is this:
Before you install McAfee software, you must uninstall any other protection programs on your computer. You could experience installation issues or other conflicts by having third-party software installed on your computer. Please follow your third-party program’s uninstall instructions.
So, McAfee’s going to keep pestering me with pop-ups until I uninstall software that’s doing a perfectly adequate job protecting my creaky old Win2K system and replace it with a McAfee digital monoculture. The truly shitty thing about this (and part of what makes this dishonest, to boot) is that if you’re really concerned about spyware, the safest thing to do is to have more than one anti-spyware program installed. Why? Because they all miss some malware. It’s a “belt-and-suspenders” approach, and it’ll work just fine – no matter what McAfee says.
So guess what I’m uninstalling this evening? Here’s a hint: it ain’t Ad-Aware or ZoneAlarm…