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Windows Usability

As a Mac user for the past 27 years, I’ve had little exposure to Microsoft Windows. My assumption, though, is that the usability of the Windows operating system has been improving over the years. Look like I may have been wrong.

This weekend, immediately following the installation process of a Windows 7 app under VMWare on my Mac, this screen opened:

“This program might not have installed correctly.”

Did the designer of this screen not realize that that sentence could be truthfully said about any installation—including those that did not install correctly, but also those that did! Please, if you’re going to show the user a message like this, at least give them some indication why they’re seeing it—for example, did the installer experience some errors during the install process?

OK, so what are the options I’m provided for responding?

  1. “Reinstall using recommended setting”. Hmmm, does this suggest that my previous installation was not made with the recommended settings? (And I’m left wondering, recommended by whom?)
  2. “This program installed correctly.” How the heck am I supposed to know whether the programmed installed correctly, if the installation process has just finished, and I haven’t had a chance to open the program yet?
  3. I can close the window with the little “X” at the top. Is that OK? How would that affect my installation process? (Is there any chance that one of the two primary response options is required to complete the process?)
  4. I can “Cancel”. What does that mean, that my installation process will be reverted? How does this differ from pressing the “X”?

Under the circumstances, I figured I’d better go with the “Reinstall…” option, which, as I nearly expected, resulted in getting to see this exact same window a second time—after which I just pressed, “This program installed correctly” and hoped for the best.

Published inDesign


  1. Justin Miller Justin Miller

    That’s too bad you didn’t get further — Unknown Program is one of my favorite apps. In fact, all of Unknown Publisher’s stuff is pretty good.

  2. Chris Johnson Chris Johnson

    Yup, I continue to be absolutely amazed at how badly Windows still does some things. Windows 7 still has snippets of DOS behavior and UI in its boot up sequence — harmless, but hardly confidence inspiring. Then there’s the inscrutable organization of various preferences amongst the zillion subcategories (folders) in the Control Panel.

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