Beware installing Windows Live Writer Beta 3

I spotted on Nevill Hobson’s blog that Microsoft have released a new version of Windows Live Writer – Beta 3.

I decided to download it to try it out – the previous versions of Live Writer are quite good so I was curious to see what improvements have been made.

However, be aware that if you choose the default install options, the installer will change your default search engine to Live Search:
Windows Live Writer Install

This is outrageous behaviour on Microsoft’s part. If the default was that Live Search was de-selected and you had the option to select it wouldn’t be too bad but tricking people into using Live Search is one sure way to piss people off and further sully your already less than shiny image.

Furthermore, the installer then defaults to installing more Windows Live applications (Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live OneCare).

If the extremely poor quality of Windows Live OneCare is anything to go by, then avoid installing any of these applications.

21 thoughts on “Beware installing Windows Live Writer Beta 3”

  1. Surely Microsoft’s behaviour is no worse than any other software provider…I have lost track of the number of times I have had to uninstall a yahoo toolbar and don’t get me started on Google…surely as other competitors have overtaken them, its time we cut them the same slack that seems to be given to everyone else

  2. Not only that, Tom, it defaults to ‘yes’ re installing other MS offerings like Messenger and Mail (screenshot). Easy enough to de-click all of these as I did, but not good behaviour at all.

    Good to call it out.

  3. @David – I cut Microsoft exactly the same amount of slack that I cut other companies, like Yahoo!, for instance when they behave unethically

    @Neville – I spotted that too. They are obviously desperate to get the Live apps out there.

  4. I don’t find any of this such a big deal. Sure, I don’t like the way in which the installer assumes you want all this extra stuff and defaults to ‘yes.’ So just pay attention to the screens and uncheck what you don’t want to install.

    It’s not like there’s a big conspiracy or something. And I don’t see it as unethical behaviour. Not very good practice, to be sure, but that’s about all.

    That said, what Microsoft ought to do when offering all these additional options is to have the default as unchecked, so if you do want them you have to expressly select your choices.

    Zoli, the installer I ran didn’t install Windows Desktop Search. I didn’t even notice any option for that. Maybe I just clicked on everything to deselect without really paying attention to what everything was.

  5. Pretty much every piece of software I’ve installed in the past 18 months from any of the big three has tried to do this. I was pleasantly surprised how Microsoft made it crystal clear what they were doing. It isn’t remotely unethical.

    In contrast, I find the constant attempts by free software to install Google Toolbar far more invidious.

    The WLW installer also did not pre-tick all the other apps for me, I had to select the ones I wanted. My only disappointment was that they didn’t explain what each app did in-situ, I had to click a link to a page.

    The whole Live thing finally seems to be coming together for them. I think they should do a mainstream advertising blitz in Ireland as a test for the rest of the world to see if it increases usage. Live Local is a far superior product to Google Maps in Ireland, they should shout that from the rooftops.

    I really hope they bundle WLW with Vista SP1. Whilst I’ve been disappointed with the lack of progress on end-user benefits, it is still the best offline tool there is.

  6. Neville, are you on Vista by any chance? It already has search, so the Live Installer will only put their Desktop Search on XP machines.

  7. Ah, that would explain it, Zoli – yes, I am running Vista.

    Conor, your experience is interesting, ie, you didn’t see the other apps offered as default-yes to install. That’s the total opposite of my experience – everything was pre-selected as ‘yes’ to install, requiring a manual de-select in each case.

    Maybe Microsoft has listened somewhere along the line and updated the installer by the time you got it! Wishful thinking 🙂

  8. Hey Tom – Is it wrong the offer the search reset through an opt out? Maybe it is, maybe not but it’s pretty much common practice in the whole industry so not something only Microsoft is doing. And yes it is something that sparks some internal debate as well.

    @Zoli: I’ll have to find out how you got to get Desktop Search with it though, that sounds weird to me but let me check on that.

    – Kris (Microsoft)

  9. @Kris – absolutely it is wrong of Microsoft to offer this as opt-out – it should be opt-in.

    Microsoft know that the vast majority of people when installing an app just click Next, Next, Next until it has installed. Furthermore, most people have no idea how to change their default search engine.

    Knowing this, Microsoft have set about artificially pumping up traffic to Live Search.

    I’m happy to see that Steve Clayton agrees with me on this.

  10. @Zoli: Thanks for that info, I’ll find out and let you know.

    @Tom: I’ve seen Steve’s comment and again, whether it is wrong or not is another discussion, I only stated this opt-out is common practice in the industry so not only how Microsoft deals with it. If this is artificially pumping up traffic then we’re not the only search engine to blame.

    – Kris (Microsoft)

  11. @Kris – you may be right – I have only been playing with stuff for Windows for a few months and I haven’t installed any Google or Yahoo! desktop stuff yet.

    Having said that just because Yahoo! and Google are behaving unethically, that is no justification for Microsoft being unethical too.

    Especially when Microsoft is trying to clean up a reputation sullied over many years anti-competitive practices.

  12. Yes, everyone does it but that does not mean it’s the right thing to do. These companies understand the law of inertia in that most people won’t be bothered, won’t see or won’t understand just what it is they are installing.

    Just as if they made it opt in, most people would not be bothered, etc etc.

    I’m in the camp who thinks these practices are unethical, but I suspect I’m in a minority.

  13. Is it perhaps because we accept this kind of behaviour that it continues?
    Personally I like to choose what I consume and certainly what get’s installed on my PC. Remember too that most people posting here are a lot more savvy technologically than Mr & Mrs Joe Soap and so know what to do when faced with being force fed.
    It seems that more and more people are fed up with this bullshit. If I wanted to be force fed I’d go back to school.

  14. Well, the probably worst thing is that you:

    a) Cannot install it while offline (just finished d/l’ing at the office desktop and wanted to install on the laptop while traveling)

    b) You cannot install it when you are missing a particular Windows Update.

    In my case those two issues rendered Beta 3 unusable, because my laptop doesn’t go online often (and if so only via a slow 3G/EDGE connection) and my office desktop doesn’t allow me to run ActiveX from Windows Update.

    It worked to install offline without a particular Windows Update in Beta 2 but apparently somebody has decided to change the installer.


    Off to find another free solution to blog offline…

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