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User Interface Hall of Shame

Here’s the first entry in my very own User Interface HALL OF SHAME.

(Yes, it’s in all caps, as it’s in a deep, booming voice with plenty of reverb.)

This is one that has bugged me for years, and when I say years, I mean for well over a decade. I can’t believe that it hasn’t been fixed in all that time, and now it’s such established behaviour, no-one will do anything about it.

I’m talking about Winzip – specifically, the Winzip self extractor that a lot of software uses for it’s distribution on Windows.

The Good: You download a single file. You double-click on it and it’s capable of doing the rest with minimal intervention.

The Bad: After running the unzip process, you then need to install the software. It helpfully offers to run SETUP.EXE for you, but then you’re in another completely different piece of software to actually do the installation. Then, once the software is installed, you’re left with not only the Winzip self extracting file wherever your browser decided to download it to, but all of the actual installer files as well in the specified folder used by Winzip.


The Ugly: This is the one that has seriously confused me for more years than I care to count. When Winzip is extracting it’s files, any click in the window will bring up a dialog to abort the unzipping operation.


Two choices. Yes or No. If you select Yes, the unzipping happily continues. If you select No, the operation is cancelled however any files already unzipped are left wherever they are, nothing is cleaned up.

Now, by click in the window, I mean exactly that, click anywhere in the window. Want to click in the title bar to move the window? No way, that’ll cancel the operation. Want to click on the About, or Help buttons. Uh-oh, that’ll cancel the operation. I’ll repeat the first one as it’s so crazy. You can’t even move the window while it’s unzipping. Now, some programmer somewhere must have thought long and hard about this one as it’s pretty non-standard behaviour, even under Windows. Then, after thinking long and hard about it, they decided to trap ANY mouse click ANYWHERE in the window and helpfully offer to cancel unzipping everything.

2 thoughts on “User Interface Hall of Shame

  1. self extracting archives are evil.

    I suggest always opening them with a regular archive tool (eg winrar or 7zip) by either renaming the extension or using right click open with.

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