I’d like to make an appeal to all the developers in the world for software that doesn’t install. Just give me an executable. Bundle everything up into that, or perhaps have a handful of DLLs in the same folder as the program. I get the program, I stick it in my Program Files, I make a shortcut on my desktop, and it just runs.
If you must have an installer, only have it do two things: copy the executable to a folder in the Program Files and create a Start Menu group. That’s it.
Nothing irritates me more than a program that scatters all over my hard drive. You start the installer, and it may as well just come out and say, “I’m going to vomit everywhere now…that okay with you?” Then it proceeds to spew files into each of three million different directories and add just as many registry entries.
When something goes wrong, you can never be sure you got completely rid of the program in case you want to reinstall it. You can just hope the uninstaller did its job. Sure, you can search for registry entries and delete the folder, but do you know you got all of it? When you reinstall, suddenly you have the same problem as before because the developer thought it would be smart to put a configuration file in some obscure directory somewhere.
Mozilla Thunderbird — no installer, just a folder with an executable and a bunch of DLLs. Same for FireBird. Same for the .Net RSS aggregator SharpReader. Same for a great little text editor called SC1 that Don Park turned me on to.
Yes, I know that these programs use more space because they have to duplicate a bunch of code. Who cares? Hard drives are big. Most people have space to burn. I’ll trade bigger space for the ability to simply delete the folder when I’m done. No commitment, no regrets.
I’m a whole lot more likely to start using something if I know I can toss it away with no ill effects when I don’t need it anymore.
(There’s always a catch…. What do all the aforementioned programs have in common? They’re free. How do you do licensing or rights management without an installer? I don’t know. Having the program portable and transparent like that naturally makes it easier to pirate.)