Golden Rant : Thank you McAfee for an afternoon from hell...

Over the last month or so I've encountered no less than three Dell laptops - two Vostro 1000s and one XP M1330. The first Vostro, for `her indoors' came with two years' free McAfee Security Suite, even though the option wasn't listed on the Dell purchase manifest. Oh well, it was free...

The second Vostro came with a three month free trial of the Security Suite, after which you have to pay £34.99 for a year's subscription. The latest Dell laptop, a flagship M1330, comes with a 30-days trial of the Security Suite, after which you have to pay £49.99 for a year's subscription. Yes, you did read that right - a shorter trial with a more expensive purchase price.

Not unexpectedly, I decided to uninstall the McAfee software from the M1330. It's far from easy, and McAfee is well aware of this, as the help section Web site provides no less than four pages of instructions on the subject, including info on direct editing of the Windows Registry.

Even with my level of technical expertise I hit problems, so I called McAfee for a bit of advice. The support centre technician said he couldn't help me, as I wasn't a paid-up subscriber (although I was paid-up on the first Vostro) and referred me to a £1.00 a minute premium rate phone line. (Ed: Steve, you're unfortunately not alone in suffering from McAfee's uninstallation process.)

"Don't worry sir - if the call lasts longer than 15 minutes, we'll call you back, as there's a maximum charge of £20 for premium rate phone number support," said the technician.

In the end I cheated and called back using the registration details from the first Vostro 1000 and explained I was having problems de-installing the software. It turns out that there are different Registry entries needed on the Dell M1330, as it comes with Vista Home Premium, which include the Media Center option.

Armed with this information I was able to totally eradicate McAfee from my M1330. The whole process only took me two hours. TWO HOURS!

Thankyou for an afternoon of hell McAfee. I will never, ever, install, upgrade or extend a subscription to your products ever. Never. Ever. Now where did I put that trial copy of Norton Internet Security?...