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January 7, 2006 12:03 AM

Broken: Office for Mac component removal screen

Office_for_macMichael Batey writes in:

Well, as an appetizer, it's totally broken that you have to remove the trial version of Office before installing the full version of Office for the Mac -- especially since the trial version of Office is preinstalled on many Macs.
Second, what are we to make of this screen? It says, 'Select the check boxes next to the components you want to remove.'
Then, there's an indented check box that says 'Don't remove files I created.'

Hang on; didn't you just say 'Select the check boxes next to the components you want to remove?'
So now, I'm checking a box to identify the components I don't want to remove?
Okay. Now there's another box that just says 'Preferences.' Can that mean keep my preferences?
No, it must mean remove my preferences. Or does it?


that screen isnt terribly broken, though it could certainly confuse people. having to remove the trial in the 1st place is a lot worse.

Posted by: gmangw at January 7, 2006 12:15 AM

By indenting the "preferences" box, it does kind of confuse things since the indented box you are clicking on above is saying "don't remove." I would lean toward the idea you are removing the preferences by clicking the box since it doesn't give you any insight other than the title at the top of the page.

To me, it looks like the creator of this little page got lazy at the end because they specified what you were doing on all the other boxes, except for the preferences box.

But, the title of the page is broken because not everything is being "removed" by checking the boxes below. It should say, "Choose which components to Save or Remove."


Posted by: Melissa at January 7, 2006 12:30 AM

I forgot to add that it is weird that you have to remove the trial version before installing the full version. They should have just added an extra check box to the page shown in the photo! :) Do you want to remove the trial version? Click on it, and *VOILA!* It's removed--or is it? By checking the box, are you asking to remove it or keep it? Who knows!

Posted by: Melissa at January 7, 2006 12:49 AM

It's definately broken, but it's broken because someone's not bothered to say 'this is unclear'... I only worked in a relatively small software place (so have no idea what it's like in large software companies), but had a bit of a name for myself because despite being a tech-writer I'd hand back software and say 'you need to fix this' before writing manuals for stuff broken in this way.

To fix it, all they need to do is make the 'Don't remove files I created' into 'Remove files I created' - and (ideally) make it not selected by default. Similarly, changing the text of 'preferences' to 'Remove Preferences' would have fixed that.

Posted by: KateE at January 7, 2006 04:09 AM

I'd like to see a 'not broken' explanation for this.

Posted by: Fayth at January 7, 2006 08:19 AM

i'd give a not broken explanation, but that wouldnt change the fact that he's using a mac which negate any references to something not being broken.

Posted by: Dragon at January 7, 2006 09:56 AM

What I've never understood is why the system doesn't just put *all* of its files inside the application bundle. I mean support files, preference files, etc.

That way, to uninstall, literally all you need to do is drag the app to the trash.

Posted by: Josh Z. at January 7, 2006 09:57 AM

If you click 'don't remove what I've created', you won't accidentially delete files you've created and can use them again if you reinstall.

The same thing with the preferences, which on a Mac are system files (almost like Windows registry), which again if you reinstall you can save.

In this case, I would say the preferences are indented only because they are PART OF THE SYSTEM FILES, not because you are opting out; you won't be able to select 'preferences' if you didn't select 'remove system files',

Just like you couldn't select "keep my files" if you didn't select "delete that folder".

Not broken, the preferences files would be deleted if you selected them to be.

Posted by: Jim King at January 7, 2006 09:57 AM

Josh Z,

Most Mac (native) programs do this. You can almost always tell when an app is cross-platform when there are more than 3-5 files that come with the app.

Plus, the vast majority of 'professional' programs (the big-budget games, utilities, etc) aren't imply in that folder, they integrate into the system with utilities of their own- one example would be DirectX for games (though most games won't uninstall DX because so many other programs use it)

Posted by: Jim King at January 7, 2006 10:01 AM

Long story short,

The indentations are dependant on their higher-order options; you can't have the indents without the justified (non-indented)

Posted by: Jim King at January 7, 2006 10:06 AM

Understand about the indents now. Thx.

Applause goes to KateE for being a tech-writer and her notoriety for pointing out "broken" software before the manuals are written.

Posted by: Melissa at January 7, 2006 10:44 AM

Mr. King, your being able to figure it out has no bearing on the brokenness. a lot of people get macs because theyre bad with computers. the functions are not the broken part, its the explaination of them that causes problems.

look how it reads literally "i want to remove the Remove Microsoft Office 2004 Test Drive folder."

Posted by: gmangw at January 7, 2006 11:40 AM

This removal screen isn't very broken my are.

The only thing I can see a complaint with is having to uninstall a demo to install the full version without the program uninstalling previous versions by itself.

Everything else seems pretty logical to me. You choose to uninstall all components...Then you get to choose to keep the documents you created in Word "an excelent feature to put in an uninstall of a document program."

Oh and technically those document files are NOT a component of the program. That's like saying an mp3 I created with Audacity thereby belogs to the Audacity program.

Posted by: the amazing sandwich at January 7, 2006 12:16 PM

everyone without computer experience and without the ability to disregard specific instructions is broken?

Posted by: gmangw at January 7, 2006 03:48 PM

I consider myself computer literate, and on first glance I had no idea what the fourth option meant. Actually, on my second and third time I didn't and I still don't. If an option can't be immediately understood, it is broken if not for the simple fact it will take each and everyone of the customer's more time figuring it out then fixing the problem would take. The second option makes me chuckle, but is immediately understood. The inability of a full version to uninstall a hugely popular (if only because of pre-installation) trial version is just wrong... again, it is wasting the customer's time.

Posted by: Role at January 7, 2006 07:17 PM

To the 'amazing sandwich':

Removing a trial to install a full version? Broken.

Removing components, where one of the selections is not a component but another question? Broken.

Confirm your selections is marked with 'continue,' not 'confirm'? Broken.

Remove selected items, when there is only one item to select? Broken.

Removing files I created, which are not 'components' at all? Broken.

You can say the user is broken, but on many accounts, this screen is riddled with errors, fuzzy logic, and bad English, much like your post.

Posted by: Michael McWatters at January 7, 2006 07:24 PM

Manual? What's a manual? LOL.. it seems most software companies stopped printing manuals with their software 10 years ago and instead rely on you to print out a pdf or go through the help file or buy a book at the bookstore for help... for things that can't be googled...........

Posted by: infinity at January 7, 2006 10:30 PM

Manual? What's a manual? LOL.. it seems most software companies stopped printing manuals with their software 10 years ago and instead rely on you to print out a pdf or go through the help file or buy a book at the bookstore for help... for things that can't be googled...........

Posted by: infinity at January 7, 2006 10:34 PM

uninstall to install, hassle oriented

no manual

hard to navigate help


I used to urinate on the manuals, no what do I do?

Posted by: asbestos (Ron) at January 7, 2006 11:55 PM

What's broken is that you're using Microsoft Office. Get!

Posted by: Jello B. at January 8, 2006 09:27 PM

I've read this blog for a short while now-and the "not broken" crew that is so famous around here always get too picky. It's a shame this site is called "This is broken" and not something like "This experience is broken" since that's the focus (it's says so at the top! -"A project to make businesses more aware of their

customer experience, and how to fix it.")

What I keep seeing over and over again is that yes- the product functions the way it's supposed to.. but conveying that to the user is what's broken. This is about user interfaces and customer experience. Yes it's a great idea to allow users to have these functions/options that are presented here- but it's just plain broken in the way it's presented.

Michael McWatters summed everything up perfectly.

Posted by: Eddie at January 9, 2006 10:24 AM

Sandwich (must be "baloney") - if you are so sure your created files aren't "components" then why do you think you are being offered a chance to remove or not remove them at all?

McWatters and Eddie have it right. It's about user experience, not whether you CAN figure it out or whether you CAN'T operate it.

And again, just on general principles, M$ is evil.

Posted by: Pat at January 9, 2006 03:32 PM

I'm think I'm going turn my post into a template of sorts for when the "not broken" crew starts speaking too loudly. I'm not saying all "not broken's" are uncalled for, sometimes I agree with them- but when the explanation of why it's not broken include things like "well, technically.."

Let's face it- your customers are not technical and "technically" don't care about your explanations and work arounds. The instructions might be clear to you, but not to your users:

"Engineers and designers assume too much: that since they understand how the gadget works, everyone should..."A whole lot of companies went out of business because their users were too stupid." (from:

Posted by: Eddie at January 9, 2006 04:20 PM

+□Remove the Microsoft Office 2004 Test Drive folder.

└--□But don't remove files I created

+□Remove the selected Office 2004 system file(s):


I suspect that this would be clearer. It would make it more evident that the indented lines are sub-categories.

Posted by: Sean P at January 9, 2006 06:02 PM

If you can't understand your software, you had better hope that the defaults are configured properly...

Posted by: _ _> at January 9, 2006 10:28 PM

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