Monthly Archive for September, 2008

Google Chrome's installation on your Computer : Yellow and Red Cards

Google Chrome went live about 2 weeks ago. Many articles have been written about it. I’ve read a couple of them. They tell how great Chrome is, how fast Chrome is, etc. Well OK. I’ve tested it too, briefly. It is indeed fast to load, fast to display a page, nice and simple interface but I’m certainly not switching from Firefox to Chrome any time soon yet.

I’ve also followed with interest the story of Article 11 and its modification by google. A few days later the Omnibox has been also under fire of many. Here is nice article about it.

Today my eyes are going to be on what Google Chrome does on your machine from an installation point of view.

Have a seat and get ready to discover how Google treats you and your computer. This is a long article.

Installing Google Chrome:

If you haven’t installed any application from Google, here is what will happen when you try to download and install Google Chrome.

First you go to and click on the big Download button.

It doesn’t download yet but you are redirected to the online EULA’s page. You obviously read the Term Of Service. Everybody does, doesn’t it ? More seriously, you should read it with attention: Ina Fried did it and provided some very interesting points. You can now press on Accept and Install.

Huh ? Install ??? Hello Mr “Don’t Be Evil“!? I want to download Google Chrome. OK, I play the sheep game and click on the damned button. You get prompted by Firefox asking to save ChromeSetup.exe.

Download lasts 1 second and you can now execute ChromeSetup.exe. OK, I guess you pick it up already: what you just downloaded is a netinstaller: the application itself will be downloaded as part of the installation process. Netinstaller becomes more and more common. I must admit I’m not a big fan.

Once you clicked on ChromeSetup.exe, it does some checking then it downloads the installation files but you have no indication about the size of what is being downloaded. 1st Yellow Card. –> Good practice would be that indication of remaining size and/or duration would appear during download.

By the way, notice you don’t have a cancel button. 2nd Yellow Card. –> OK, you still have the possibility to close the windows using the red cross but good practice would be to have a cancel button somewhere.

I tested The cancellation of the install: I clicked on the red cross and you get prompted with a choice to either cancel or resume the installation. In many software installation this is a standard way of handling the exit/cancel sequence. However Google Chrome is different and the installation was still progressing while showing the cancel/resume dialog box.  1st Red Card. –> Good practice would be that when clicking on red cross (or cancel button if at all existing), the installation is put on hold until the user choose from the confirmation message to either cancel or resume the installation.

So I clicked on Cancel Installation. But, hey, wait a minute, GoogleUpdate.exe has been installed and is still running in the background and also will run automatically at every boot. So effectively what you canceled is the download/install of Chrome while Google sneakily keeps its GoogleUpdate.exe installed *and* running on your computer. Very weird, Mr “Don’t be Evil”! 2nd Red Card. –> Good practice would be that cancellation of installation cleans up correctly the computer and gives it back as it was before launching the install.

I cleaned my computer from anything installed by Chrome installation process (see later in this article) and I restarted the install again but this time I’m not canceling the installation process.

So I’m back again with the download phase of the Installation process. At this point you usually expect to see some sort of wizard that offers you the typical stuff : components to install if any optional, shortcuts to create, location of the software, etc.

Well, you have it all wrong this time. Google decided you are too stupid or not clever enough to let you have those choices and proceed with an unprompted/automatic installation as soon as the download is completed. Hello Mr “Don’t Be Evil”!? What about giving me a choice for installation location, shortcut menu and those typical aspects of every software installer ? 3rd Red Card. –> Good practice would be that those things are asked *before* the installation starts.

I also noticed that canceling during the installation phase was not possible as the red cross was disabled! 4th Red Card. –> Good practice would be that rollback is possible during the installation using a Cancel button.

Eventually the install of Google Chrome ends. You now have Google Chrome nearly installed on your computer. Nearly because indeed the install process ended but, again without giving you any choice, Google Chrome automatically starts for the first time and you are prompted to import your bookmark and also to create shortcuts. 3rd Yellow Card. –> Good practice would be that a dialog box pops up telling the installation is completed and offers a check box to launch the newly installed application.

It is very interesting that Google Chrome considers that creating shortcut on the desktop or in the Quick launch bar is a post installation/first execution step. There is indeed a link that goes to an optional step for customizing these settings. Here, Google is smartly not forcing Google Chrome to be the default browser. I wanted to make that point. 1st Good Point.

Eventually Google Chrome loads and displays its first screen. Google search Engine is setup by default in the Omnibox but Google Chrome clearly shows how to change it. 2nd Good Point.

Et voilà! Google Chrome is installed. Great, isn’t it ?

At the surface, certainly yes but if you look more closely, it is not! Let’s go back and dig a bit into the installation aspects.

During the unprompted/uncontrolled installation of Google Chrome, it also installed Google Gears plugin and GoogleUpdate. These components are attached with Google Chrome and silently installed. 5th Red Card. –> Good practice would be that during installation time, you are notified that Google Chrome requires Gears plugin and GoogleUpdate as a mandatory components / or as a software prerequisite.

Google Chrome’s files are installed by default and without any opportunity to change its location in “C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome” ! … Hello !? Mr “Don’t be Evil”, what the heck did you do here ? Gears plugin that was silently installed with Google Chrome is located in “C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\Plugins\Gears”. Same scenario for GoogleUpdate that is installed in “C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Update”. 6th Red Card. –> Good practice would be that software is installed in “C:\Program Files\something“.

As you can see there is a lot to say about the installation of Google Chrome. I also found that Rob Mensching wrote about the installation and uninstallation process. I certainly recommend reading his views too.

So far I pointed 3 Yellow Cards and 6 Red Cards. Let’s now have a look at the uninstall process.

Uninstalling Google Chrome:

Uninstalling Google Chrome can be done using the shortcut in the Program Menu and also via Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel. However it is far from being a great experience.

Executing the uninstall starts with question to confirm the uninstallation of the application but the message is rather atypical. It doesn’t feel professional. 4th Yellow Card. –> Good practice would be to stay with conventional messages.

Possibly, I see in this message a poor tentative to prepare the user for giving feedback to the online form webpage that is automatically triggered at the end of the uninstall process. But yet again Google gets it wrong here. On my machine, FireFox is the default browser however IE was launched to access the feedback form. Hello ? Mr “Don’t be Evil” what about launching my default browser, huh ? 5th Yellow Card.

After the unattended uninstall, Google Chrome application and Google Gears plugin are gone. I’m surprised though to see that the folder “C:\….\Google\Chrome\User Data” is not cleared. The type of data left behind are bookmarks, cache, saved passwords, etc. 6th Yellow Card. –> Good Practice would be that uninstallation prompts you to either clear or keep the user data related to the software you are uninstalling.

The big thing is definitely around GoogleUpdate.exe that is left completely untouched and fully functioning. Google Chrome installed this software but do not uninstall it. However it gets uninstalled silently after about 8 hours as explained in a second Rob Mensching’s article. I clearly dislike this approach. This is wrong. GoogleUpdate.exe should uninstall when Google Chrome is. This is also rather obscure and hidden from the user sight. 7th Red Card. –> Good practice would be that either GoogleUpdate is removed at the same time as Google Chrome or alternatively that information is given to the user telling about delayed GoogleUpdate uninstall.

Should you want not to wait for automatic removal of GoogleUpdate, you can force the uninstall by executing this: “%LOCALAPPDATA%\Google\Update\GoogleUpdate.exe –uninstall” (credits to Rob Mensching).

During the installation process I counted 3 Yellow Cards and 1 Red Card.


This article is not about how good or not Google Chrome is but how Google is installing Google Chrome on your machine.

The installation experience is not adequate to my eyes. Google crosses the line more than once and I certainly dislike many aspects of the installation process. I highlighted 6 Yellow Cards and 7 Red Cards. I feel Google went to far trying to control everything during the installation process. Google also is not informing clearly what is installed on your machine. Far from following standard installation process commonly seen when installing software, I’m not pleased with what Google does on my computer.

What are your thought ? How many Yellow and Red Cards would you fire about the installation of Google Chrome ?