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October 25, 2004 12:01 AM

Broken: Windows "frequency of use" dialog

FrequencyofuseMichael Earley writes:

So, out of curiosity, I clicked on the link in the "Add/Remove Programs" feature of Microsoft Windows.  Windows kindly provided me with these WONDERFUL definitions of Rarely, Occassionally, and Frequently.  I feel, somehow, belittled.


don't you think that people could figure that stuff out on their own?

Posted by: Thorny at October 25, 2004 12:24 AM

Of course, you gotta consider the average barely computer literate user these days. You know, the folks who download and run every email attachment they get and send their bank account info to nigerian royalty.

Posted by: Maurs at October 25, 2004 01:02 AM

What would you have them do? Give the actual criteria the computer uses to split the categories? Bah!

After all, that would, technically, be giving up a trade secret. Sad but true.

Posted by: Windrider at October 25, 2004 01:21 AM

To make up for the fact that the inclusions of definitions is more stupid than broken, I'll add that in many cases it gets the frequency and last used on date wrong. You'd think these things would be easy for an operating system to determine, but I guess not.

Posted by: Sean at October 25, 2004 01:22 AM

How does Add/Remove Programs get the size and other information?

Posted by: Chetan at October 25, 2004 02:27 AM

If any of you actually open up your "Add or Remove Programs" utility, you will likely notice that it is in fact broken rather than stupid. To my knowledge, it has been broken since [at least] XP came out. Examples:

- I used Ad-Aware today, 25 Oct 04. It's listed as "Rarely" with my last usage date as 12 Jun 03.

- I keep AIM+ open every day. In fact, I restarted it today. It's listed as "Occasionally", last usage on 16 May 2002.

- AOL Instant Messenger itself doesn't even get classified under any of the headings, nor does it list a last usage date. However, this is incorrect. I have run the unaltered AIM program (without AIM+) several times on this machine; AIM+ is just shell, so it opens AIM every time it's opened as well.

- Winamp, another program I used today, is also listed as "Rarely" with the last usage date of 19 February 2002.

I could go on with just about every program listed in the utility, but I think the point is made.

Posted by: Melissa at October 25, 2004 03:43 AM

I forgot to add: yes, I think the focus of the post is misplaced. The definitions are definitely "duh", but I think the underlyinig issue of how it actually defines the three categories is definitely broken.

Posted by: Melissa at October 25, 2004 03:46 AM

Yes, Add Remove programs has been broken for years. Earlier versions of Windows wouldn't remove applications that had their directory manually deleted, so you'd end up with a bunch of deleted apps in the Add Remove programs dialog that you couldn't remove.

And the "frequency" and "size" categories that they added with XP aren't ever really right. As the OldNewThing article linked above shows, its really just a big old hack. I'm suprised that Microsoft didn't just roll the "frequency" and "size" measurements more closely into its Installer technology.

Posted by: Alex at October 25, 2004 01:08 PM

How useful is the frequency of use information? At least in a home use situation, you'd know which program you need, and which ones are no longer needed.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at October 25, 2004 02:14 PM

Yes, Melissa, that is exactly what I said in my post. Anyway, the Add/Remove programs dialogue has been the source of comedy ever since Windows 95. In the pre-XP versions, there's an Apply button that is never once needed by the dialogue. Thus it is perpetually ghosted out. Clever.

Posted by: Sean at October 25, 2004 04:37 PM

XP, huh? Welcome to my world.

Posted by: Eric at October 27, 2004 04:29 PM

Add and Remove Software on XP said a 1.2 GIG game was only 26 MB.Broken,Broken,Broken,Broken

Posted by: unknown at March 3, 2005 05:36 PM

It's not broken. This allows you to sort out what programs you use often and rarely. Very useful if you gonna throw out old programs to increase disk space. And besides, there is no specific "criteria" that you use, just put what you think it is!

Posted by: xxx at April 21, 2005 12:23 AM

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