Loren Heiny writes at Incremental Blogger that he is increasingly reluctant to suggest desktop software that installs bundled applications, utilities, and stealth start up programs to people he knows and works with. I agree. It's about time we were given the option to install only what we want.
One easy fix is to voluntarily not enable unnecessary, bundled apps in an install program. Require the user to check a box if they want a bundled app. If this approach can't make it past the marketing folks, an alternative is to offer a "thin" install somewhere on the company site that people like us can find and provide links to. Go ahead and leave the thick installs in prominent positions, but give us others a link to a "thin" install which we can recommend.
Bundling seems to be the latest favored approach to gaining desktop share. Google has been on a bundling rampage of late and has recently added the Adobe Flash Player to the list of co-conspirators who will install the Google Toolbar alongside the software you actually wanted on your system. I like Loren's idea that "thin is in" and that we should be given the option to point to a thin installer that adds nothing but the essential software we are recommending.
A case in point is QuickTime without the iTunes software. It's available from Apple's web site. You have to do far too much poking around to find it, but at least it is available. Similarly, it is possible to find the free and relatively uncluttered free version of Real Player but you have to work too hard to find it.
The support consequences are becoming unacceptable for those of us who are sought out for recommendations about software and then have to deal with the aftermath of questions and problems that arise when additional (and usually unwanted and unnecessary) software is installed.