15 April 2008

When Add/Remove Doesn't Remove

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What do you do when you go to XP's Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs, find the software you want to remove, and the entry has no Remove button on it?

I found an answer in a forum thread, as follows...

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\{Program Name}

If NoRemove is set to 1, the Remove button will be unavailable
If NoModify is set to 1, the Change button will be unavailable

Note that as the {program name} may be a CLSID, you may need to search for the product name (e.g. "Intel Audio Studio", using what you saw in Add/Remove) to locate the correct entry in which to find the relevant NoRemove setting.

Intel Audio Studio

In my case, I'd had to replace a failed Intel 945G chipset motherboard with a new Intel G33 chipset motherboard with attendant processor upgrade.  XP died on a BSoD STOP error on all boots, as expected (a self-serving product fragility that helps limit "license creep") so the next step was to "just" do a repair install... but that's another day's blogging.

The other motherboard came with Intel Audio Studio, which installs and uninstalls along with the sound drivers.  But when the motherboard changes, the old sound device vanishes from Device Manager, so you no longer have an UI from which the device (and thus drivers, and thus associated bundleware) can be removed.

Hence the problem: Add/Remove Programs has an entry for Intel Audio Studio, but that entry has no Remove button.  It "doesn't need it" (so implies the text within the entry) because it is "installed and uninstalled with the drivers".

The meta-bug behind the bug

Alun Jones said "Don't solve problems, solve classes of problems", and by meta-bugs, I mean the classes of problems behind the bugs you step on one by one.

Have you noticed how few USB-interfaced hardware vendors create driver installations that work with the Windows PnP detection, prompt, and install sequence?  Most vendors tell you to avoid that by first auto-running their installation CD or running their Setup.exe, and then plugging in the USB device only after the "drivers" are loaded.

One reason may be because the vendor wants to install a range of software that is broader than that handled by the device driver installation purpose.  And this is where the meta-bug comes in, because whereas drivers are suppressed when the device is not found, the rest of the bundled software is not.  This is what causes your Display Properties dialogs to crash when you replace your graphics card, if the old graphics card left device-specific code hooked into the Properties page.

In this case, the meta-bug caused an apparent inability to uninstall Intel Audio Studio.  With the new motherboard in place, a dialog appears on every boot to the effect that Intel Audio Studio doesn't work with the system's (different) audio, prompting my attempts to uninstall the software via Add/Remove Programs.

What is particularly annoying, is that Intel's web site has nothing I could find on this issue - either via their own site search, or combining www.intel.com with appropriate search terms in a general Internet Google search.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just now removed it by doing a hidden file search-then opened every folder and sending it in pieces to the trash- destroying the program by shattering it- and then flush the recycle bin-run ccleaner and there ya go. no more annoying outdated program throwing up useless notices.