Installshield and Start menu shortcuts
To this day I see modern-day installers that automatically installs itself into my Start->Programs without my explicit permission; now, I understand that the majority of people want this feature, however there's some that don't -- namely me. Up until recently(recently as in, its appeared within the last few years) you simply couldn't tell it not to, which reeks very bad usability programming in my book. More specifically, when it comes to the 'dreaded' InstallShield and its 10-second-wait to create two shortcuts.
I used to agree with you, but I was convinced by the following logic: only a very small percentage of people don't want new programs added to the start menu, and those people can certainly remove the program after the fact. It's so easy to remove something from the start menu that this is barely a burden. So the question is, do you make the 98% of the people in the world answer a question for the benefit of saving a second for the 2%. Remember, every time you ask a question, people have to sit there and think about what they want. Ask too many questions, and SETUP becomes a painful process.
In many organizations, it's actually a marketing decision. The suits want their program up in front of the user - that's the same reason you get unnecessary desktop icons. Usability be damned.
As Joel has pointed out this is meant as a convenience for your 'average user'. You can add a UI to most of the installer programs to do exactly what you want to do ( in fact most games and the like give an option for desk top icons and the code can be extended to the start menu items as well). It is purely a marketing decidsion in most shrink-rap shops (You want our product so You will get our way). The 10 sec wait for menu item is not true... it is also writing a group of registry entries (often automatic COM registration, uninstall and program information) And the more COM objects the longer the wait.
A Software Build
Although I'm a power user I like (or is that rely) on the fact that a program puts it's icon in the start menu. If it didn't, I'd have to hunt through program files to find it, create a shortcut, rename it to something useful, and put it where I want it.
I think there are two classes of applications. One class should automatically place itself in the start menu. The other should ask.
One trick that I use (and many of you probably do as well) is not to categorize your programs in "Programs" rather categories them right under the start menu (the menu items appear above Programs). In XP, this only works with the classic start menu.
Why wouldn't you want shortcuts in the Start menu? How else are you going to run what you installed (with the exception of those apps that you only use through associations)? If you use Explorer or the command line to run stuff then why do you care what's on the Start menu? It's trivial to delete desktop and Start menu items if you don't want them.
Selecting where in the tree menu items will appear is no more complicated than selecting where on the drive files are installed. The functions are quite similar. 'Burdening' the user with one decision is OK but the other is too complicated !?! Something wrong with the logic here. The 'too complicated for the user' argument doesn't wash. If you can ask them where to install the files, it's logical to ask them where would you like the menu items - providing defaults (as is usual) in both cases for those that want to use them.
Two things I really hate about installed software shortcuts:
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