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Running with Code Like scissors, only more dangerous

Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft is ostensibly the most popular massively-multiplayer roleplaying game available in the present market.  It was released to the United States in November of 2004, and just last fall reached 7 million subscribers.  It seems to be the holy grail of online gaming - imagine, at $15 per month (the U.S. price - international prices vary), 7 million subscribers sends a cool $105 million per month to Blizzard out in California.  Now of course they've got consistent salary staff to pay for - support, continual development, community moderators. 

Windows Vista was released to manufacture in November of 2006; this enabled MSDN subscribers and volume license customers to access the final version of Vista two months before retail release.  Prior to that, Microsoft had been consistently preaching about running under least-privileged user mode for at least a year before Vista's RTM, and it was well known that the UAC feature of Windows Vista would prevent applications from writing to the Program Files folder.  Microsoft retained limited support for applications that could no longer be updated by virtualizing protected filesystem and registry writes.  Of course, being an MMORPG that is continually updated, WoW shouldn't have that limitation.

So why is it that, when I run Warcraft, a program that has coexisted with Windows Vista for 15 months now, I still have to go through the headache of logging in, downloading a patch, getting the error that the patch could not be launched (because it's not in the path that to which it thought it was saving), then I need to exit, and re-run WoW as an administrator?

This isn't an issue of me being lazy; it's a symptom of someone being a lazy programmer.

Here's my shocking and startling solution:

1.) Don't download the installer to the installation folder.  The installer isn't actually the installer, anyway - it's the "Blizzard Downloader" application with the desired torrent file built into the app.  Rather, download it to the user's Temp folder, typically in C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Local\Temp.  You know, like a well-behaved program.  (Could you imagine requiring root to run this under Linux?)

2.) Add a manifest file to the downloader.  This has been a well-documented way for applications to inform the OS that they need administrative privileges since early betas of Windows Vista. 

3.) Use the Vista Tools package to run WoW as a standard user again after the patch has been applied.

Stop demanding that you write user data into the Program Files folder.  Even Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion obeys the rules for not writing in the Program Files folder, and that was released in March 2006.  C'mon guys.  Wake up.

Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2008 11:40 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: Dear Blizzard, Please Fix Warcraft's Patcher

# re: Dear Blizzard, Please Fix Warcraft's Patcher
Requesting Gravatar...
my disk hates me.....................:(
Left by kristy on Mar 19, 2008 12:30 AM

# re: Dear Blizzard, Please Fix Warcraft's Patcher
Requesting Gravatar...
damn the patch always stays on 0% doesnt move from there
Left by chloe on Jul 20, 2008 3:26 AM

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