Click-To-Run exaggerations

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Office 2013’s Click-to-Run install is good, so why not be honest about it?

Up here at the Australian Edition of Microsoft TechEd it’s been a curious experience for many reasons that I won’t bore you with.

But your Editor-in-Chief has just endured a Microsoft briefing on Click-To-Run – the primary and preferred (by Microsoft) installation system for Office 2013.

Click to Run is clever and has many advantages that we’ll be writing about when Office 2013 gets closer.

The briefing had to be endured because it was one of the most unnecessarily misleading technical sessions of recent times. That’s not the fault of the presenters who stuck to the Microsoft approved script they are obliged to follow.

The Click-to-Run session was misleading because of the exaggerations about Office installation timings (past and future). Plus dismissive comments about Office install options that were, until recently, promoted as good and are now dissed as being too difficult.

Unnecessary because Click-To-Run is very good; not perfect but in many ways better than past install methods. Despite all that, Redmond thinks they have to mislead a tech savvy audience, most of whom can spot the exaggerations with ease.

Past Office installations (basically clicking setup.exe to run some .MSI install files) were given grossly exaggerated installation times of between 30 and 45 minutes! A 45 minutes install of Office might have been common back in the days of floppy disks, but it would be extraordinary for an Office 2007/2010 install to take more than, say 20 minutes, if not a lot less. Even better, Office installs now ask all the questions at the start then go off and install, letting the user do something else in the meantime.

On the Office 2013 side we’re told that, with Click-To-Run, it will install in ‘1 or 2 minutes’ which is a gross understatement. Office 2013 appears to install quickly but that’s only the first elements of the suite. In the background Click-To-Run streams and installs the rest of Office 2013 as the user starts working. It’s an important distinction that IT admins and users need to understand, especially for portable devices but something that Microsoft prefers to gloss over.

Office App-V was sold to organizations as an efficient installation option for Office 2010. It was, in truth, a kludge and messy to deploy but you’d not have known that from Microsoft salesmen even in recent times. Only now Microsoft disses their own App-V technology even going to the extent of showing its own long, complex deployment documentation for the feature. It’s hard to stomach such self-serving ‘flip flopping’, often from the same presenters who pushed the same feature in the past.

When asked about an obvious problem in Click-To-Run it was sad to watch Microsoft staff turn themselves in knots trying to avoid admitting the problem existed. The three minute attempt to avoid admitting the obvious was an insult to those present. 

The problem they didn’t want to talk about?  Click-To-Run has a problem not being able to distinguish between cheap Internet connections and more expensive links like mobile broadband. Users don’t have the ability to suspend an install or update when on a pricey connection or when updates might be inappropriate. 

Click to Run is a typical Microsoft snow job. Redmond doesn’t need to overstate the benefits of Click-To- Run because an honest assessment should be enough to convince most people. Instead Microsoft thinks it necessary to exaggerate and avoid mentioning understandable, but need to know, limitations in the new deployment method.

Microsoft tells us technology is a mature industry so its past time that they showed some maturity themselves and gave their customers a more accurate summary of a products capability.

Sadly, most people who have dealt with Microsoft for years have become accustomed to these antics.  They shrug their shoulders and accept that’s what Microsoft does.  We go off and discover for ourselves the ‘gotchas’ behind the slick demos, exaggerations and vague promises. 

Maybe we should expect more from this company we rely upon?

That’s enough from TechEd Australia for the moment … I think it’s time for my tablet and a lie down .

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