Saturday, March 3, 2007

The Definition of Free

I experienced a very nasty definition of free the other day. I got an email which told me there was a FREE upgrade to my Trend Micro PC-cillin software. So far this software has been the least evil in slowing down my computer so I like it, and thought I’d take them up on their free offer. Normally their upgrades take seconds, so my expectations here were set, which of course they proceeded to trounce to pieces. Here is the sequence of events I had to endure for my free upgrade:

I was asked to uninstall the software. I guess I was supposed to go along with whatever warnings came up, so I went right ahead. They had a bit of “good experience” capital to play with.

  • I ran the free updater and…nothing? I sat and watched. Nothing.
  • I rebooted, as I am told most frequently to do by most infrastructure departments.
  • I re-downloaded the FREE updater because now my old anti-virus was gone.
  • Nothing happened so I rebooted again (no rationale here, just frustrated and hoping for something good to happen).
  • Re-ran it, which gave me new options. This is bad because now I am rewarding bad behavior, but I needed my security back to survive in this Windows world.
  • I was asked to provide my serial number, which meant finding the original CD in an unkempt closet.
  • I was asked if I was sure I wanted to delete the files in the quarantine list because it can't install the free updated software with the files there. How should I know?
  • Looked like it was going fine until, it froze on installing the Personal Firewall.
  • For 25 minutes it hung with no feedback, until…
  • 45 minutes and 3 reboots later, I was done with my free update. Ouch.
Was this the experience they planned? Why would they chance losing my loyalty like this? Would I ever click on a free update from them again? I don't think this would have taken much of a feedback loop on their part to recognize the flaws here. Their good experience capital has been spent and brand tarnished with me.

So was this really free? Everyone had a cost here. To balance this out I point you to Freedomdefined.org which is a movement dedicated to producing free cultural works for others to take and basically mashup. Check out their portals, which has some truly free music.

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