DateFriday 13 May 2005

Yahoo! Music’s uningratiation; and the answer to dialogue boxes

In Just say no to intrusive applications – Yahoo Music, for example Tim recounts his exasperating experience with the new Yahoo! Music, um, thing.

I said ‘No’ to every possible option that would not kill the install, even thought they all defaulted to ‘Yes’. Make Yahoo my home page … No. Make Yahoo my default search page … No. Install Yahoo Toolbar … No. Make Yahoo music my default media player … No.

s a reboot. Hey, I now have Yahoo Messenger as a startup application. I never asked for it. I signed up for a media player and an online music service. Not an instant messenger.

Well, I had a brief look at the Music Engine. I found the UI cluttered (to be fair, it is in beta). I don’t know why the industry can’t learn from the likes of Google and Apple. Simple, single-minded UI that does one thing well. But it was only a quick look, as by this time I was seriously irritated.

Frankly, it’s time we moved on from these application installs that try to hook you into an entire online environment. By the way, this is the reason Real Player lost so much goodwill in the industry, despite its strong core technology. It’s also a large factor in the number of wrecked Windows systems out there…. I’ve now removed Yahoo Music completely. Yahoo got one thing right. The uninstall works perfectly.

On a related but unconnected note, Fraser Speirs notes a neat (but almost unnoticeable) improvement in iTunes 4.8, in the dialogue when you want to remove a song from your Library. Rather than the old “Cancel/No/Yes options – which are always confusing – it has “Cancel/Keep Files/Move to Trash”, which is much more meaningful.

You can pretty much set up the rule (which I think is in Apple Human Interface Guidelines already) that dialogue boxes should have a verb in the buttons. Else all sorts of bad things can happen. Fraser has a couple of examples; you can think of more.

Microsoft is of course one of the worst culprits in this. Word has an option when you double-click a file in the Finder which is already open: “Revert to saved file? Yes/No”. I’ve no idea what the options mean, nor which one to press.

Is a recession on the way? And what does that mean for online businesses?

My latest piece at Netimperative examined whether the scent of recession in the air (falling high street sales, bankruptcies up, lastminute.com – which always finds itself at the top of whatever market – being bid for) points towards good or bad times ahead for online businesses.

This isn’t going to be like 2001, when there was tumbleweed blowing across computer screens where the ads should be. There are in fact reasons to think that being online will be the best shelter from the storm.

But I don’t think it’s going to be great news for those with ambitious ideas for new media. In particular those which are expensive, intermittent, or easily replaced with something similar for free.

For example, will sending TV to mobiles (as NTL is testing) be a success in those conditions? Ponder your verdict, then see mine.

Bonus link: Consumers still in the dark over meaning of ‘3G’:

Three-quarters of the UK population do not understand the term “3G”, although the majority now recognise the terms “broadband” and “digital TV”, according to new research.

I didn’t write it, but I think it’s a fascinating finding.