Now that Best Buy’s shiny new Software Installer is showing up on PCs sold by the retailer, we’re starting to see more reviews of the tool, including this one, from Geek Squad Agent Matt Van Dusen, who declares that the software has a “horrible” user interface and “suffers from too many of the same problems many of the trials preinstalled on computers today.” Van Dusen’s verdict: “If this was being offered by any company other than the one we work for, it would be at the very least disabled, and most likely uninstalled from each computer during the optimization.”
Van Dusen starts off with a good, hype-free breakdown of what BBSI is supposed to do:
The basic premise behind BBSI is simple: simplify the task of setting up a new PC for our clients. Yes, the two major consumer operating systems do a fairly good job of the initial first-time setup of a PC (the “Out Of Box Experience”, or OOBE), but once that’s done is where many people start to stumble. In the past, the Geek Squad has performed services such as the Optimization, Restore Disc Creation, not to mention installation and configuration of antimalware software. These services will still exist in the short term, but for those buying a computer with BBSI, the PC should have fewer trials and other bloat accompanying Windows out of the box. Instead, BBSI will be the first thing the end customer sees, allowing them to purchase applications of the types they want to use, rather than what the computer manufacturer is paid to advertise. The purchase information is stored in their bestbuy.com account, so if they ever need to reinstall they simply log back into the application and redownload/reinstall. These ‘cleaner’ PCs with BBSI preinstalled are available from Asus, Acer, Gateway, eMachines, Sony, and Toshiba.
This is followed by a candid account of what BBSI really does:
I have worked with many computers that are preloaded with BBSI at the factory as part of my job, and while some of the benefits of the new software exist, it does fall short on a few of them. For example, two Toshiba netbooks were compared – one is a model that is being phased out, the other is a new model. BBSI is present on the newer one, while it is not present on the older one. In our informal testing, the older model took only 3 DVDs to create recovery discs, while the newer took 5. In addition, the newer one actually had more trial software to disable/uninstall, which is one of the things BBSI was supposed to ‘fix’. It is also my opinion that the user interface, or UI, is particularly horrible – obviously it was designed to be ‘easy’ yet still convey the fact that yes, it is a Best Buy program. Unfortunately, that translates to a rather bright shade of blue, with yellow buttons. The UI is unnecessarily resource-intensive as well, since it is all rounded corners and designed to be ‘pretty’. This dedication to the aesthetic makes the application difficult to navigate.
In addition to a bad UI, BBSI suffers from too many of the same problems many of the trials preinstalled on computers today suffer from. BBSI will nag the end customer unless they locate and successfully click the button to only load when requested. There are only 35 titles currently available for purchase through this application – Microsoft Office and many of the top antivirus vendors are not among those with a presence in this new application, which are the most requested pieces of software with a new PC. Naturally many of the current titles available are from companies that Best Buy has purchased over the years – Napster makes an appearance, as well as the Geek Squad’s 24 Hour Support Tool, which may just be the most useful piece of software included in this package. The list of available programs available is expected to grow over time – this is one reason the application may take a few minutes to load – it has to download the new list of available software every time it is fired up.
So, in summary, the software is ugly, annoying, difficult to use, filled with Best Buy-owned tools like Napster, and at least some computers that contain the software actually have more crapware than their BBSI-free cousins. Yeah, we’re gonna make sure our next PC has this on it.
Best Buy Software Installer: Win, or Fail? [The Random Ramblings of mattfast1]