One of the things that irritates me ever since I started using Windows is software installations on the system. You are probably wondering what's irritating me. The core problem for me is that there are no general software installation rules on the system. Software by default gets installed mainly into two directory structures. First the Program Files folder on the same hard drive as the Windows installation, and the user profile of the currently logged in user which is also located on the main hard drive. 64-bit users can add the Program Files (x86) folder to that list, so that they end up with three possible locations for program installations.
The majority of applications offer custom installation locations which means that users can install them where ever they want to. While that's the way to give everyone maximum flexibility to install the software where they want, it is held back by the fact that some programs do not offer custom installation locations. The Google Chrome browser for instance will always install into the application directory of the user profile folder. Another example is the Steam software. Steam itself can be installed in every location. The games that are installed on Steam however will all be installed on the same drive, with no exception possible (workarounds are available).
When you look at how software is installed on Windows, you will come to the conclusion that the end result is not streamlined. This may not be a problem for the majority of users, who click on a link in the start menu or a shortcut on the desktop to launch the software that they have just installed.
Some users, myself included, prefer a organized folder system. I prefer it because it keeps the folder count low on a hard drive's partition, and all applications accessible under one root folder. Microsoft's idea was to make Program Files that folder, but the idea more or less fell short because of reasons outlined above.
Portable applications need to be addressed as well. They are not installed but simply copied to a location on the hard drive and executed from there. It is actually a lot easier to keep all portable apps under one root folder than programs that need to be installed.
One of the things that I do to keep a tap on my software installations is to use symbolic links to move them to a new destination after installation. A program like Steam Mover or Move and Link to do that without the command line.
My main question for all of you is this. How do you install software on your system? How do you use portable applications?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.