“Copying Windows files”, “Getting files ready for installation”, “Installing features” … and so on. Installing Windows 8 is an experience pretty much the same as it’s ever been, where too much information is presented to those who don’t care, and not nearly enough to those who do. On top of that I’m informed that “my computer will restart several times.” Lovely.
Computers used to be the domain of hackers – people, who wanted to push the limits of what’s possible and know all about the machines they were using. Then the PC came along (or the Mac, if you’re that kind of fan) and all sorts of people strolled into the computer world, not always willingly. Most software changed along the way, but the installation processes were mostly left out of the changes.
Every piece of software – as big as an operating system or as small as an instant messenger – should have two modes of installation:
What we’re getting instead is usually a mix of both. Noobs find the installation process too daunting, to the point where they’re just confused and keep clicking “Next”. Freaks find it mostly unsatisfying, distrustful about the installer doing something they would probably not approve of. Nobody’s happy.
Think of installing software as the “unpacking experience”, like Steve Jobs always emphasized it, and Apple continues to do. It’s the first experience a user may have with your application and you want it to be as comfortable and pleasant as possible. Do your users a favor and design your installation process, just like you design your application.
Every web application is in “beta” these days. It’s these pesky developers excusing buggy software by saying “we’re working on it, so expect a few quirks”. Can’t they deliver quality? Not really, folks, sorry. Business is too quick nowadays.
The appeal of web applications is their ease of maintenance. No need to install or upgrade locally. Launch your web browser, type in the web address and you’re already using the newest version. For business units this means they can keep rolling out tweaks and new features daily. Obviously they shouldn’t because things take time to develop and test properly. But if they’re not quick enough, competition will be, will outrun them and put them out of business.
So we, the IT people, are at war now with Business. We demand time to ensure quality, they demand speedy development and deployment. And since business pays, they win, we submit and can only beg customers for forgiveness by calling our software “beta”.