While removing some malware from a client’s computer down in the Distillery District yesterday, Chris was delighted to see that the anti-malware program, called HitmanPro, had a progress bar that surpassed 100%, and went as far at 105%!  And so, HitmanPro earns the esteemed HONESTY AWARE OF AMAZINGNESS!

2013-07-23 14.57.42
The delight of seeing a progress bar admitting that it was wrong.

As you have probably witnessed, progress bars can be… less-than-accurate.  You can see them hop, skip and jump to 76% in a matter of seconds, and then watch them stand still for 3 minutes, before slowly stumbling over that “100%” finish line.

Why does this happen?  Well, there are a number of reasons why progress bars are not always accurate.

When a program is installing, it has to copy a whole whack of files onto your computer, and it also has to change settings by modifying your Registry (more about that here, if you’re interested).  It’s also important to note that some programs have to use other existing programs, in order to do what they do.  (For example, a lot of programs will require Java, or Microsoft .NET to be installed, in order for them to work on your computer).

But the creators of a program can’t possibly know all the current settings and configurations of every computer that’s going to want to run their program.  The variations are endless – different versions of Windows (Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8), different hardware (sound cards, video cards, etc), different previously installed software.

When the creators of a program make an installation package for a program, they often assume that you do NOT have any of these things installed.

Let’s look at the example of a program you’re trying to install, that requires Microsoft .NET to also be installed on your computer.
The thing is, you probably already have Microsoft .NET installed on your computer, you just don’t know it (it’s often part of your automatic Windows Update).

If you already have Microsoft .NET installed,  then the installation package can skip this step.  And, voila – your progress bar suddenly jumps from 10% to 36%.

This is an oversimplification.  Installation of programs is an impressive task, and we are lucky that it’s so easy to do in Windows.  Just ask anyone who’s tried to install things in Linux.  Ack!

Bottom line, we should remember that the progress bar is just a general idea of how things are going.  Programmers try hard to make it look official, and exact.  But it’s neither of these things.
Still, programmers know that us users love to see steady and sure progress.  …Even to 105% completion. ;)

Happy installing from PFC.


And the PFC “Honesty Award of Amazingness” goes to…
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