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My fight with Amazon Unbox

My fight with Amazon Unbox

I do not recommend you try Amazon Unbox, and here's why. Yesterday evening I decided to give the video download service a try, especially since it gives you a free $1.99 video. A nice touch, I thought. I chose a Star Trek episode called "The World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky," because it's one of my favorites.

After the normal Amazon checkout rigmarole, I was prompted to download a proprietary video player from Amazon. It's the only way to complete the download. I wasn't too happy about this. It does download a WMV to a folder, so I figured, what the heck. At least I knew where the file was if I wanted to play it in another player.

Even after it downloaded fully, it wouldn't play. I tried several times in both the Amazon player and the regular Windows Media Player, to no avail. After less than two minutes, though, I found that if I dragged the progress indicator in the Amazon player a little, it would start playing. Maybe a bug on my part, who knows? Video quality was fine, especially for an old TV show. I enjoyed it.

I left work after that and rebooted my laptop at home. That's when the real trouble began. I noticed that the Amazon player had launched itself. Annoying. I looked in the program for a preference to stop it from launching itself, and there was none. Typical. So I went to msconfig and unchecked Amazon Unbox so that it would definitely not launch itself at start-up. When I rebooted, it was no longer there. However, my firewall warned me that a Windows service (ADVWindowsClientService.exe) was trying to connect to the Net. I clicked More Info in the firewall alert and found it was Amazon Unbox. Downright offensive. It still was launching a Net-connection process that even msconfig apparently couldn't stop. Forget it. That's not the behavior of good software. I went to uninstall it.

After the Install Shield launched and I chose uninstall, I got a login screen for my Amazon account. I just wanted to uninstall it. I shouldn't have to log in to my account to do that. So I canceled the login, and the uninstall failed. I tried that three times, and it failed each time. Finally I gave up and logged in and the uninstall finished.

So, in summary, to be allowed the privilege of purchasing a video that I can't burn to DVD and can't watch on my iPod, I have to allow a program to hijack my start-up and force me to login to uninstall it? No way. Sorry, Amazon. I love a lot of what you do, but I will absolutely not recommend this service. Try again. For more details and a rating of Amazon Unbox, check back for James Kim's full review. Update: I received an email from Sheila at DV guru saying that she hadn't had to log in to Amazon to uninstall. On a hunch, I reinstalled Unbox and this time allowed ADVWindowsClientService.exe to access the Internet when prompted by my firewall. This time when I uninstalled, I was not prompted to login. So ADVWindowsClientService.exe is connecting to the Net without your knowledge, even when uninstalling.