Clearing up Creative’s mess

CreativeCreative Labs has served me well over the years. A series of Zen MP3 players has spared me the abuses of iTunes, and though my old Audigy card may not represent true studio quality, it’s been fine for the odd bit of back-room music production. I even fondly recall my first CD-ROM drive being a Creative Labs model, its quaint “Hex Speed” designation indicating a phenomenal 900KB/sec transfer rate.

Clearing up Creative’s mess

Today, though, the company has got my goat. I’ve been trying out Creative’s “Sound Blaster Wireless” system for a forthcoming review, and the driver disc has dumped a large number of Creative-branded widgets and extensions on my system (as you can see from the picture). This blunderbuss approach to support software is a habit of the company’s I don’t appreciate, and when it comes to hardware for my own use I tend to ignore the setup disc entirely and just use the standard Windows controls.

But the real problem is that now I have all this crap on my system I can’t get rid of it. As you’ll see, there’s no “uninstall” icon in my Start Menu. There’s nothing in the “Programs and Features” panel. The documentation offers no help. So what am I supposed to do?

In fairness, there is an uninstaller — hidden away on the driver CD, under the helpful heading “install drivers”. Lost the CD? You can download the 168MB driver package from Creative and launch the “installer” from there. If you don’t stumble across one of these two solutions, though, Creative’s digital droppings are on your system for good.

Perhaps the developers assumed no one would want to remove their magna opera, or maybe they simply didn’t think it worth their time to make it easy to do so. Neither position is acceptable. If every manufacturer followed Creative’s lead the typical system would soon be awash with unwanted drivers and obsolete controls — calling to mind the bad old days of the hijack-prone Windows 98, an OS in which the “My Computer” icon seemed almost a sick joke.

Thankfully, these days Microsoft recgonises the importance of the PC owner being in charge of his own system, to the extent that applications are now prohibited from pinning their own icons to the Windows 7 taskbar. Perhaps the next step could be an OS-wide function for rolling back software installations entirely.

That way we wouldn’t need to rely on the same developers who’ve covered our systems in needless little applications to clean them up for us again.

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