IE(eeeeeee)

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Rob Flickenger

Rob Flickenger
Jun. 24, 2002 10:39 PM
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To paraphrase Robert Anton Wilson, "There are no coincidences, only synchronicities."

I've just had an extraordinarily telling synchronicity.

The buzz around the office today was that Microsoft has finally released the "long-awaited" (their words) Internet Explorer 5.2 for OS X. "Inspire me", the website says. So, like much of the rest of the planet, I went off to be inspired (or, at least, not to be left behind) and invested in the 7.1 MB download.

As I was downloading the new IE, I had the sudden urge to check for updates to my current favorite browser, OmniWeb. As it happens, The Omni Group has just released OmniWeb 4.1 (weighing in at 6.6 MB), the latest in their series of great OS X apps. What a treat, I thought to myself: I'll have two new toys to play with at work tomorrow. Let's get these installed...

Going with what I know, I started with OmniWeb. Installation of apps in OS X is almost pathologically easy with .dmg's: double click to open, then drag it to where you want to put it, and you're done. In about 20 seconds I had OmniWeb 4.1 up and running happily, with bookmarks imported and preferences kept, without answering a single dialog box.

Now on to IE 5.2. It appeared as though Microsoft is finally "getting it": they too have a .dmg package. But lo and behold, once opened it reveals not the browser, but an installer for the browser. Hmm, the last program I installed that needed its own installer was DigiTunnel, and that's really because it's system software (it adds a new control panel to your system preferences, after all...) Okay, proceeding with a cautious (and probably unwarranted, but nevertheless generous) benefit of the doubt, I ran the installer.

Next, I was prompted for my administrator password, not in the traditional system dialog box, but in a custom prompt with the friendly title "Authenticate". Why does IE need my administrative password? OmniWeb sure didn't. This is just an App. A web browser. Not a new device driver, not an encrypted tunnelling package, but a simple network application. Why does it need the equivalent of root access to my box just to install itself?

Fine. I'll give you my password, just this once. I was then presented with the standard EULA (click accept) and an OS 9 style installation dialog (click install).

What is this? I was now presented with the following incredible dialog box:


(click cancel, click quit. Quickly.)

I'm sorry, Microsoft, but you'll have to do better than that. In fact, never mind. I know that you won't comprehend this, but listen: This is now a universe where laptops can stay up for weeks on end, always return from sleep, update their network parameters without rebooting, install software without "quitting all other applications", never, never die with a blue screen of death, and only ever reboot after installing software for really good reasons. Which is probably what you'd have me do after installing IE 5.2.

I wouldn't know, because I never got that far. Yes, Microsoft, your "free" software has finally asked too much of me. The Installer is gone, evaporated from my trash can, bits recycled for more worthwhile pursuits. I think you've gotten enough of my time, disk space, and most of all, my attention, and I'm officially bringing the relationship to a close.

Consider this the EULA for all future interactions with me and my machines: Be nice, play fair, have fun. Any violation of these three key rules is a violation of the agreement, and will be met with immediate reallocation of the offending bits.

Fortunately, Microsoft doesn't (yet) own everything, and there are alternatives. Try OmniWeb. Try Mozilla. Better yet, do something more interesting with the Net than look at web pages.

But don't put up with guerrilla ideological war for mindshare masquerading as a monopolist profit model with no real value masquerading as junk software with fascist licensing. Demand more! It's alot of fun, honestly...

Rob Flickenger is a long time supporter of FreeNetworks and DIY networking. Rob is the author of three O'Reilly books: Building Wireless Community Networks, Linux Server Hacks, and Wireless Hacks.