A small rant about my anti-virus software

We use BitDefender for anti-virus protection. Once it's running I've found that it behaves itself better than Symantec and MacAfee did when I ran them -- less intrusive, more likely to do the right thing, etc. (I've never had to clean up after a virus -- a combination of being careful and being lucky, I assume.) Maintenance, on the other hand, is a pain.

BitDefender expires after a year (usually), so you have to keep renewing. Note that I didn't say its update support expires; the software itself stops working on the magic day. You actually have to install a new version. Grumble. But ok, fine... we can do that, right?

They did have the decency to send email saying our expiration is up in a few weeks. Good for them. Had they actually included a "renew what we have" link, we would have done that, paying $50 for the household computers for a year. But they didn't do that; they sent a list of links for all their products, and we noticed that their $30 product would meet our needs fine. Clue for the sales force: if you'd made it easy for us you would have gotten more money.

Dani installed first, and the installer said "hey, there's a newer version than the one you just now downloaded from our web site; want it?". He said sure and it crashed the installer (a bit messily). Oh, and that installer helpfully uninstalled his prior version first -- which, technically, had a couple weeks left to run on it. Lesson: always keep your original installers; I've been dilligent about this for years and it's saved me a few times. So he re-installed, declining the auto-update, and then updated manually later.

When I installed it I skipped that update offer right off. After going through the usual dialogue I got the (predictable) "this may take several minutes" message and the progress bar started. An hour and a half later it hadn't budged, so I clicked "cancel". Which did nothing. Tried again; still nothing. Tried closing the window; nada. Considered killing the process, but I didn't want to leave a partial installation that might be hard to clean up. Eventually I remembered that something like this had happened last year and decided that a reboot would at least give the OS a crack at it. Reboot didn't work because that process was hanging on for dear life, so I ended up killing setup.exe (just a guess :-) ) anyway and then rebooted.

I ran the installer again; it said it had to clean up a partial installation first and I said fine. This time the installation did not hang, and I got all the way to the "enter license key" page. Did that and it asked me for my registration password; I guessed. That got me a "critical failure" notice, with a place to type a "what I was doing" message. When I finished that I was back on the license-key page.

I tried entering the license key again and got "try a different key". WTF? It took me and Dani looking at it for a couple minutes to realize that it had registered my key before it failed, and that message meant "if you want to change the key you have to actually change it". Not such a hot UI. This time I declined to register the product and it took me through configuration.

After all the configuration dialogues it offered to update and I said sure. That ran but then I got another "critical failure". I'm afraid my second message in ten minutes was a bit more testy than the first. But it then restarted itself and kicked off a "quick" scan, asserting that my machine had never been scanned for viruses. Ah, BitDefender, how quickly you forget that your previous version did that just last night.

So now my scan is running and I'm sure everything will be fine, with the anti-virus software rightly fading into the background (mostly). But I'm also thinking that if I still have a Windows machine this time next year, maybe it'll be time to survey the market again. It just shouldn't be this hard to buy and install software that, actually, I already had.