Real Obnoxious Feb 29th 2004
The one application that I try to stay away from more than any other is Real Player. Or Real One, or whatever the hell they call it this week. If Real Player, Real One, whatever, just did what it’s supposed to do; which is to play video streams, then that’d be great.
Unfortunately, playing video streams is only a very small aspect of what Real Player does; Real Player, most prominently, is a small bastard with inferiority complex and delusions of grandeur, not too different from Napoleon…
Although Real Player’s task is simple and limited to a certain timeframe, Real Player defaults to running at all times, whether its limited functionality is needed or not, and claims a seat for itself in the throne commonly called the systray.
When you install Real Player, you can either choose an express install, or custom install. If you pick express install, Real Player simply installs itself with every option and feature turned on. If you choose the custom install, the process is a blend between an installer and a Pokemon-like game of gotta-uncheck-all-checkboxes.
Because, if you don’t catch em all, Real Player assumes you want shortcuts to it on the desktop, in the Quick Launch bar next to the start-menu, in the top of the start-menu, another desktop shortcut to “free offers” from real.com, a third desktop shortcut to “Free Aol & unlimited internet”, and last but not least, a special option in the windows search-menu called “Audio/video search”. Note that Real Player does not just create a folder in the start-menu programs-folder, like most apps do, but claims a seat in the top of the start-menu, for quick and easy access. Besides all these short-cuts, Real Player also installs a shortcut in the programs-folder of the start-menu, and another folder, called “Real”, in the programs-folder.
Real Player assumes you want to use the application as your primary player for basically every audio and video format and media available. After all, that’s what most people would want, right?
When installing Real Player, the default option is to also install the Real OneSearch Internet Explorer toolbar. Product registration is, of course, mandatory, and since the good folks at Real assumes you’ve got a special interest in news and updates from Real, it also assumes you’re interested in receiving “important news, upgrades and offers”. When installing the free Real Player, it is also assumed that you want to immediately purchase and install the non-free version.
At start-up, Real Player sometimes recreates shortcuts in the start-menu, just in case you’d forgotten about it since you last deleted it. Whether you selected Real Player as the default player for CD or not, Real Player will assume you’ll want to start playing a music CD’s content in Real Player, when inserted. That goes for DVDs too. Real Player also assumes that the most common usage, and thus the default start-up view, is the Media Browser, where you can browse for video and audio-clips.
When you installed Real Player, it assumed that you were interested in news, upgrades and offers, but even if you unchecked those options, Real Player still assumes you’re interested in receiving updates and other messages from Real. It also assumes you’ll want to add any newly downloaded media to Real Player’s media library, whether it’s the default player or not. Also, whether you were interested in updates or not, Real Player assumes you want it to periodically download and install important updates.
Real Player can be configured for low CPU usage, or high quality, Real Player, of course, assumes you’ve got a powerful computer and that you’ll want Real Player to use it.
Imagine for a while that you had manipulated the right people, somehow infiltrated Real Inc, and had gotten yourself an important and influential position as an executive there, how would you make the program more obnoxious, more invasive, and less likable to the average user, without making the other executives and directors suspicious?
If you liked this post, you might be interested in the posts that came after it:
- Real Reply I got several e-mail from people who used to work for Real Networks, they offer some reasons for Real Player’s invasiveness and hostility, and their own perspectives.
- Real Proof I got an e-mail from a consultant who used to work for Real, he/she offers some interesting information about the attitudes at Real, and why the product sucks so bad.