If you read about my hardware problems, you've probably surmised that this year I've reformatted my hard drives several times and reinstalled my software an equal number of times. I've got a beef with WIN9x software development companies. The beef isn't about bugs. You have to expect bugs with software developed for a buggy operating system. Neither is it about the complexity of installation. The more powerful computers get the more complex they become. Law of nature, or somesuch.

     My beef is about the shortcuts under the "start" button.

     Very often, they don't bother to ask where you want the shortcuts, they make a new shortcut group under Start/Programs and title it with the company name. Hey, c'mon! If I'm going to run a disk scan utility, do you really expect me to look for it under "SkrimSof?" Or a graphics program under "MudWorks LE?" No! I'm going to look for a disk scan utility under "utilities," or "DiskStuff" and a graphics program under "graphics." Of course, very often they do offer to put the shortcuts under whatever heading you want. Then they add shortcuts to the "read me" file, the "help" file, the "uninstall" routine, a link to their website, and possibly several other useless links. Let's get just a teensy bit real here for a moment. Half the time, the "readme" file is something you need only during preparation for installation, or only the first time you run the program. Do you really need a link to it on your "Start" menu? Do you need it stored on your hard drive at all? Why would anybody want to access the "help" file when they aren't in the application? The application's "Help/About..." item on the menu bar likely has the link to their website. Why do you need it in the "Start" menu? If it's someplace you plan to visit with any frequency, you'll want the link under your browser's "favorites" or "booksmarks" button. Are the developers so uncertain of their products that they think users need the convenience of being able to uninstall from the "Start" menu? Have you ever used a developer's uninstall routine? Have you ever noticed how many of them are named "Unwise.exe?" I once used Unwise.exe to uninstall a web utility that I had no further use for. It removed so much that didn't belong to that app that nothing worked and I wound up having to reinstall all my software! I concluded that the uninstall routine is called "Unwise" because it's unwise of the user to use it.

     Another thing many of them do without so much as a by-your-leave is plunk a link right at the top of the "Start" menu, as though their application is absolutely the most important thing on your hard drive. And to make sure you get the point, they put one on the desktop as well.

     Come on, fella, if the app isn't something I use everyday, I don't need it at the top of the "Start" menu or on my desktop. If it is, I only need one link -- on the desktop. I don't even need it under "Start/Programs."

     Really, the only link I need under "Start/Programs" is the link to the app.

     It's not only the little guys who pull this nonsense. My computer came with Word Perfect Office 2000 and CorelDraw 9. WP, you may know, is owned these days by Corel. The installation routines for these apps want to install WP under "Corel." Come again? I can understand installing CorelDraw under "Corel," afer all, CorelDraw has been around for quite awhile and is known by the company name. But WP? Not on your life am I going to think to look for WP under "Corel." Neither am I going to think of looking for a spreadsheet (Quatropro, part of WP Office 2000) under the name of a graphics suite. Symantec is an even bigger offender. Norton SystemWorks opens five different categories under "Start/Programs." One of them has more than twenty links under it. One only has one, to Norton Web Services which, I think, you have to subscribe to. Any reason that can't all be lumped under "Norton" and save a lot of space on the "Start/Programs" menu? Even more, they add a "Norton SystemWorks link to the menu. They also plunk a couple of links on your desktop and add a SystemWorks link to the top of the "Start" menu.

     Snarf. Snarl. Come on, folks. Just because computers and applications are more complex and can do more, it doesn't mean you have to clutter the "Start" - "Start/Programs" menus and the desktop with more links.

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