A friend got Family Tree Maker 2012 as a Christmas gift and was nice enough to bring in her laptop to show me the software. As a user of Ancestry.ca for more than 7 years, I could see how similar the new front of FTM2012 was to the website. The layout of information and the amount of data presented on the Person’s screen was much better than the Legacy software I have used for 8 years.
So I went online to download it and for reasons quite unclear Canadians are not allowed to download it. But I did order it from GlobalGenealogy and as always it was here in just a couple of days. Let me precursor this with the note that I am an IT Manager working in the computer industry for 30 years and have worked on thousands of computer using every version of Windows ever made.
I currently use a Dell laptop with Windows XP and without question, the Family Tree Maker 2012 is the worst installation software I have seen since the beginning of Windows. I do not know who the programmers were, but clearly they never tested the software on the other versions of Windows.
I put the CD into the computer and no auto-install started. So I then opened the CD and found the SETUP program. I don’t how they designed this but I thought I had not started the program because it took so long to show anything on the screen. It went through the installation process and after 10-15 minutes, it hung on some English dictionary. After an hour I finally killed the hung job. I went to uninstall the program and discovered that there was no Uninstall program on the Programs Menu, and nothing listed in the list of software under the Control Panel> Add or Remove Programs utility. So I could not uninstall the program. As an IT Manager I have a number of special utilities for this type of problem but none of them worked against FTM 2012, so I could not uninstall it.
So I decided to try to re-install overtop of the failed install which often resolves similar problems. This time the Setup completed, and it opened FTM 2012 but it opened a second window saying there was an update but blocking out the option to not let it install. So I had no choice but to run the update, which then closed the pop up windows and showed nothing. I confirmed that the program was running in the background but nothing was shown on the screen. I left it for an hour and as far as I could see nothing happened.
I work behind what is called a proxy server, and some software has problems with it, but most let you into the program to tell it you are using the proxy server and to tell the software how to deal with it.
So I decided that I would wait until I got home to let the update run so it would not have to deal with the proxy server. Later last night I started my computer and once running, double clicked on the FTM 2012 icon and the pop up window gave me no choice but to run the Update, so I let it go and this time the program did show the installation progressing, but after about 10 minutes it was hung again trying to deal with this English dictionary file. I left it alone for 30 minutes and the program was still hung.
Since I already knew that there was no ability to uninstall FTM2012 I went online and search for notes on how to uninstall FTM2012. I did find some notes on their website on how to manually uninstall the program. They have no uninstall utility built into the software! Who sells a piece of software that cannot be uninstalled? http://ancestry.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/ancestry.cfg/php/enduse...
It is fortunate that I am an experience computer person as the steps necessary to remove FTM 2012 would intimidate most of the regular computer users I know. Again I used some of my utilities to do a proper clean up as there are a number of files left behind by their process.
So I rebooted and before I re-installed FTM2012 I noticed that on the page about the uninstall there was a note about needing to “Perform a Clean Boot of Windows”. So I followed the link to the Microsoft website and got reminded how to do a “Clean Boot”. I say reminded as I have not had to do a clean boot since Windows 98, over a decade ago. I have to believe that the programmers who designed the installation program have never written any software for any version of Windows before as I have never had a single piece of software in the hundreds I have worked on over the year that required me to shut down every other program running in Windows before I could install it. I cannot believe that anyone put out a piece of software that badly designed. I cannot believe that in 2012 any professional in our industry would put this untested a program out on the market.
So I did as they suggested and rebooted my computer into the “Clean boot” and when I put the CD in, the auto-install did actual start. Amazing. The installation completed at an expected pace, and when I started FTM2012 it went straight to the Update screen, again not allowing me to bypass it. I let the update run and for once it did complete. I rebooted still in a “Clean boot” and ran FTM2012 and it went straight into the update program again.
I decided to go to their website and see if there was some way to turn off the prompt or run the updates manually. I did find this page, http://ancestry.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/ancestry.cfg/php/enduse...
that shows some of the updates (but not all), but the web page requires you to know which version of FTM 2012 you are currently running. But I cannot tell which version I am running as the program will still not get past the automatic update utility. So how am I suppose to know what update to run?? At this point I have no option but to run them all. So I run all three of the updates over top of each other and reboot my computer. Still in “Clean boot”, I start FTM2012 and wonders never cease, the program actually opens.
I reset set my computer to get out of the “Clean boot”, which they do not tell you how to do on the site. Yes, it’s following the steps backwards, but how many people know that? I reboot under normal Windows XP and run FTM2012 and it opens properly. I will mention here that I had my Ancestry.ca account open at every step of this process as I know FTM2012 allows a direct link to your account.
I had built a new GED file from my current copy of Legacy and imported it into a new tree in FTM2012, which was quite quick and from first glance captured all of my data. I pulled up my maternal grandfather and saw everything I had in Legacy was there. So I decided to let it go to Ancestry.ca to get the immigration records I know are there and the program said I have to register my software. I clicked the Register Now button and it came back in seconds saying that “Error Processing Subscription Activation We were unable to process your Ancestry.com subscription at this time. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please try again at a later time. “, and a Close button. No error message to tell you what happened. No note on what to do next or a link to help page. And of course, even with getting the install to finally work, I have just checked and there is no Uninstall program for FTM2012 anywhere on my computer.
So I am now sitting here with a piece of software that will not do the specific task I purchased it for.
Now I will be clear that my friend who is not a computer person but reasonable comfortable with them got the software installed on her Windows Vista laptop with no problem at all. This is specifically a warning about installing this software on Windows XP. I have not tried installing it on Windows 7 but if it is working on Vista it probably does work on Windows 7. This is a warning to any user of Windows XP to not install Family Tree Maker 2012 until you hear that they have done some major changes to the installation program or you have a friend with lots of computer experience to help you get around these problems. There is quite a bit of software that only works on Vista or Windows 7 and I have no problem if they decide to announce it is only made for those operating systems, but they need to stop saying it is made to work with Windows XP.