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Kaspersky: Great product, dreadful installation/upgrade process

Evan Schuman | Sept. 16, 2015
All companies need to pay more attention to the experience that ordinary users have when they try to install new products and upgrades.


In the earliest days of the Web, I used to urge companies to force their developers to test all their sites on the slowest dial-up connections rather than on their enterprise T3 connections. My thinking was that if developers saw things through their users’ eyes, they would be more careful about making sure their sites were fast loading. That problem has gone away, but I have a similar message today about product updates and installations: Have your developers watch ordinary people using ordinary tech support try to install them.

As you can guess, this thought was prompted by a horrific user experience I just had to endure, this time at the virtual hands of Kaspersky. Kaspersky makes one of the industry’s best consumer-grade security packages. But you are probably going to want to pay someone else to install the product for you, because the process will have you considering homicidal acts.

After spending several hours of going through the process and getting nowhere with technical support in the guise of an ordinary consumer, I reached out to Kaspersky as a journalist and got connected to a very senior and helpful tech support person. It took him a few tries, but he eventually got the job done. And I have to wonder, If I weren’t a journalist, would I have ever finished the install? But let me go back and tell you how I got to that point.

The fun began when I received an automated notice that my key for Kaspersky was about to expire and that I should renew it. As a longtime fan of Kaspersky (once it’s up and running), I thought “Sure, why not? If I just give them my credit card and accept everything, I should be wrapped in about five minutes.” What can I say? It was early in the morning, before I had had my coffee. I am far too optimistic and naive at such moments.

The first thing I noticed was that there was no direct link in the email to accept the upgrade. That led me to scour the site for about 10 minutes before finding what I needed. It doesn’t help that Kaspersky’s constant product name changes made it challenging to know which product I wanted. Note that I wasn’t trying to upgrade the software, but merely to update the activation key, a.k.a. the license. Apparently, that required new software, but neither the email nor the site bothered to mention that.

No matter. After processing the payment for a two-year and three-device license, I tried to download the new software. That process began, but then it paused to tell me to uninstall the old version. Odd, given that most install programs do that directly and automatically. But if that’s what it takes, I’ll uninstall. The uninstall failed, however. A few Web searches found that this is a well-known issue with Kaspersky; some elements of the program just stay on the system despite an uninstall. Given that Kaspersky’s tech support site noted this in August 2013, one would think that it would have been fixed by now. (I have routinely accepted any Kaspersky patches and upgrades for several years.)


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