Software Installation

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Software Installation: You are qualified…

Quick or Advanced.  Basic vs Expert.  Typical or Custom…  How many times have you been confronted by this question when installing new software on your computer?  How often have you failed to noticed that you even had a choice?  Most people choose the quick or basic option for fear of harming the software or their computer.  Be warned; by choosing the basic (or quick/typical/standard) installation you may be forfeiting your right to choose what is being done with your computer.

On the upper left you see a setup window for Java, a perfectly legitimate piece of software which helps provide a more robust web surfing experience.  However if you don’t notice or bother to click the checkbox for “Show advanced options panel” then you may never see the next window which would allow you to opt out of the Ask toolbar… (Pictured right)

Another example relevant to this topic which sticks out in my mind is Microsoft Office.  If you choose the “Typical Install” you will miss out on the opportunity to pick and choose which options will be installed with your Office Suite.  If you were interested in support for additional languages, templates for Word or Excel, the Office Assistant, special filters, or many other options you’d be left having to re-insert the disc at some point in the future to add-on those options.  If you’d have simply clicked “Custom Install” from the beginning you’d be able to setup the software exactly as you see fit right from the start.

So, what should you watch for?

  1. Pay attention – Software manufacturers are sneaky and often intentionally make it easy to overlook the option to change the installation settings.  As pictured above in the first Java installation window, the checkbox is small and down out of the way in the bottom left of the window.  Your attention is drawn to the “Next” or “Accept button so you can easily miss out on the chance to click the checkbox.
  2. Understand what you’re looking at– There are different methods for deploying the options in a software installation package.  Sometimes you may have only to click a button, other times you’ll have to find the sneaky checkbox, or at the whim of the software engineers you may have to select which option you want from a group of radio buttons.  There is no rule or standard by which the engineers must abide.  To be honest they aren’t actually required to give you the option at all.  So here’s what to look for:
    1. This is a Checkbox
    2. This is a Radio Button
  3. Have no fear – There really isn’t much you can mess up.  This is your opportunity to play computer tech.  Even if you do find a way to mess it up, there is nothing wrong with uninstalling the software and starting over.  It’s also noteworthy that custom/advanced installations usually have all the standard options pre-selected, so you’re not going to be left completely in the dark.  All you’ll have to do is look through the options and see if there’s anything you want to opt out of or anything you’d like to add to the installation.  It is usually as simple as clicking a few checkboxes.

In closing…

Don’t fear the advanced options.  You don’t have to be a technician to understand the options made available to you by clicking that “expert” checkbox.  It may be the only way you can be certain what software is actually running on your computer.  And if all else fails; Call and we’ll come to the rescue!