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Google’s shoddy EULA

I am sensitized to design issues right now so I’m calling out this shoddy piece of work by Google on new Toshiba laptops (and most likely some other new PCs, in the UK at least).

Yesterday I set up a new laptop for a friend – a scenario which does not seem to have occurred to the legal folk. It comes with the Google Desktop and Google Toolbar pre-installed. Someone has decided that the most important thing in the world is that you should therefore agree to the Google EULA, which almost fills the screen with an ugly dialog that nevertheless displays the actual text of the agreement in a relatively small scrolling box.

There are a few notable features:

1. The agreement comes up automatically on startup, until you accept or decline.

2. The window has no close, cancel or even minimize buttons. Just accept or decline.

3. The agreement has some advice for you:

It says that before getting  “bebound” you “should print and/or save a local copy”. I would like to know how the designers of this screen intend you to do so. Your printer, if you have one, is probably not set up yet. I guess you should copy the text into another application (that’s what I did), which is fine provided you know about Ctrl-C, but made awkward because the EULA window is set to be always on top. The first image above shows what happens when you run Word after the EULA appears.

4. Still, you can drag the EULA to the right, select the text, copy and paste into Word. If you do this, as I did, you will find even stranger terms below the fold. Like this one:

2.3 In addition to the standard information that your web browser will typically send to most web pages you the Google Toolbar will send to Google a computer visit, generated unique identifier that is stored in your computer’s registry upon install.

I think I get it. Google will record every page you visit. I call this obscure language though.

5. I am not a lawyer, but some stuff confuses me. Clause 3 is headed “Additional terms” and says that use of the Toolbar is also subject to Google’s general terms of service on the web. Clause 9.1 says that “The Terms and Conditions constitute the entire agreement between you and Google”. “Terms and Conditions” is specifically defined in clause 1.2 as the current document. So did you agree to what is on the web, or not?

I realise I am possibly the only user ever to read this agreement. I still think it is disappointing: the horrible UI, the broken English, the obscure terms. I did not click Accept; my friend can do so if he wants. Ctrl-Alt-Del; Task Manager; terminate the two processes beginning EULA.

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1 comment to Google’s shoddy EULA

  • Peter

    Well, first thing, when I buy a new computer is a fresh clean install. No preinstalled s**t and other useless software.