Windows is Dangerous

One of my coworkers got a new laptop last week. ¬†Friday I set it up with software, configured email, removed a ton of the pre-installed crapware that wasn’t needed, and passed it on to her. Should be all fine, all that was really needed was to install a few bits of extra software, Skype, Slack, etc.

Today she came to me asking if she should install “this”. This turned out to be what happens if you search for “skype download” on google and click the first link. Turns out you don’t get the skype download site, but instead you get an “installer” which prompts you (with varying types of trickiness, for example ‘decline / accept’ buttons to move to the next step, and on the next step the ‘accept’ button is to install some crapware, and the ‘decline’ button is actually ‘skip’.

After successfully navigating the “installer” software, Skype was installed, so I looked to see what else was installed. There were somehow about 5 more bits of crapware installed now. I don’t know if it was done in the 2 work days since she got the laptop, or all today from this. Lets see:

  • Norton
  • “PC cleanup” software
  • A browser search engine / home page hijacker called “bikiniland”, installed as two separate programs, in both IE and Chrome, plus extensions
  • Another couple of random bits of software

I don’t know if it’s the lack of knowledge in recognizing the difference between a legitimate download site and an obvious ad (and knowing that the only reason you’d put an ad up like that is to add on extra crap), or the fact that (in general) the “windows install wizard” culture gives software of ill-repute a lot of ways to scam the user, compared the the (in general) “drag the icon to your Applications folder” philosophy of Mac OS.

Either way it was 30-60 minutes of my life I won’t get back from probably a couple of bad clicks. Now I know why Windows Total Cost of Ownership is so much higher due to having to lock down computers, disable users from installing things, etc.

I wonder if there’s a test I can give new users about how to recognize what they should and shouldn’t do online.