Wednesday, December 29, 2004

On Windows, the Registry, and Sheer Stupidity

So I've got a client now that is using a Cisco VPN box for remote access. I needed to do some extra work on the project from home last night, and I installed the Cisco VPN Client.

So far so good.

I typically have my Start Menu organized into hierarchies of folders, such as Applications, Development, etc. So I moved the new Cisco group into the Applications group.

Cisco didn't like this when I tried to run it. It copied itself back to the main Start Menu. Cisco and I entered into a frustrating cycle where neither one of us decided to give up.

I decided to uninstall Cisco. I did this, but kept getting a Windows Installer dialog come up when I started Windows. I couldn't get rid of it.

This is the part of the story where we enter into Sheer Stupidity.

I decided to manually go into the Registry and remove all traces of Cisco.

Dear readers, please stop laughing.

After I removed all traces of Cisco, I realized that I had inadvertently removed my entire Windows networking configuration. I tried to reinstall the drivers for my networking, but it was too late. Gone.

So that's right. I had to stay up practically all night rebuilding a machine I'd rebuilt only a few weeks before.

My fault, clearly. However it got me thinking.

Why in the hell is it so tough on Windows to install/uninstall applications? Why can't an application write everything it needs into its own directory, use XML files for configuration, and then leave everybody else alone to go about life the way they see fit?

I mean damn.