User Hostile Software Design

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Back when I purchased my 2000 Volkswagen New Beetle (Y2K Bug), as I’ve done with every car I’ve owned, I purchased a shop manual. Only this time, I decided to go “high tech” and got a CD-ROM version.

Big mistake.

The software on the CD-ROM has a byzantine security setup to prevent illegal copying of the content, and it hasn’t been updated in years. If the least little thing changes with your PC setup, it has to be reactivated.

As I recently upgraded to Windows 7 64bit*, you guessed it – my software stopped working again. It literally took 24 man hours to get the software working again, most of that because I had to download and install what Microsoft optimistically calls “XP Mode,” which enables you to run older programs in Windows 7.

After installing XP Mode (which involves basically creating a virtual PC in Windows 7 and then installing XP on that just like you would on a new PC), you then have to endure updating XP with all the security updates. The first pass identified about 100 patches.

You download and run those, then run the updater again, and it finds another 40 or so.

Rinse, lather, repeat, until it finally doesn’t find any more to update. There were close to 200 by the time I finished…

Glad I use a Mac.

*I run Windows 7 using VMWare Fusion, which is a virtual environment that simulates PC hardware as a software program on my Mac. It runs just as fast as it would on real hardware, and if I get a virus (thankfully never have), I just delete the hard drive file and start over from a backup.

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