Thursday, August 9, 2007

Hewlett Packard: the shame

Here's the punchline first: in what universe is it still acceptable, in 2007, for printer and scanner manufacturers to bundle their products with monolithic installers whose only goal in life is to litter my hard drive with piles of bloatware spread over literally hundreds of files? Now, on to the story.

A Hewlett Packard LaserJet 3055 All-in-One appeared at work. (Actually, that kind of makes it sound like I stole it—my boss bought it, it's in his office, and on the LAN.) I took the installer CD labeled "Macintosh", and set about getting this printer up and ready for printing from my PowerBook. (Smarter readers will note right here that there's already a problem with my approach. Hint: Installer CD? It should just work.)

Now, I've moaned before about monolithic installers and unwanted bloatware. Today, Hewlett Packard took both concepts to a new level. Let me enumerate the problems with the installer for the 3055:
  1. At the risk of repeating myself, who doesn't offer drag and drop installation under Mac OS X in 2007? Hewlett Packard, obviously.
    HP LaserJet 3055 installer
  2. After accepting the license agreement, the first thing the installer did without warning was, and I am not making this up, close down every application I had open. Seriously, without warning.
  3. I was hoping to get away with the absolute bare minimum install—maybe a printer driver and perhaps a couple of branded, rubbish applications. The device isn't in my office, so I won't be doing too much scanning or faxing. I just want to print stuff. You might recall that when I bought my CanoScan flatbed scanner, the single redeeming feature of their monolithic installer was that it let you pare down the default choices to something more sensible. Evidently Hewlett Packard is going for a bloatware record, and I'm part of the attempt. The next piece of information the installer gave me (and it wasn't giving me much) was that there were over 700 files remaining to install. Excellent.
  4. Fortunately, at this point, the installer decided it needed to know precisely which model of all-in-one I had, so it stopped cold and popped up a dialog. I'll take this is a mixed blessing—ridiculous, because if it makes a significant difference, they should be packing different installers on different CDs with their different models, but very welcome because it paused the installer before it vomited all over my disk.
  5. As a final defiant gesture, the installer refused to quit from its menu (Quit was an active choice, it just didn't do anything), and I had to Force Quit using the Finder. Outstanding.

I emerged unscathed (well, not mentally) from my encounter with Hewlett Packard and VISE X 3.0:
VISE X: crap installers
To be honest, I don't blame MindVision Software. Writing rubbish software for a rubbish platform is their job, and I'm sure they're good at it. But I do blame Hewlett Packard for taking what I can only presume is the easy way out. They make great hardware, but the associated software still lets them down year after year.

As I mentioned above, astute readers will have been shaking their heads disapprovingly from the second paragraph: I'm using a Mac. It should just work. Indeed, it did—I just never bothered to check.
HP 3055: found
After two years, I remain an absolute Mac novice.

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