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 Visual Basic

Macromedia Shockwave/Flash Animation Plugin

Findings of the Tribunal:

Blofeld reports, and recommends filing this one under "you are already staggering under the disease called Windows, and then the bloodletter shows up". This one is definite flight bag material:

Shockwave/Flash (S/F) animations have become the de facto standard for vector animations over the web. The vast majority of web users have the required plugin as it comes as part of the default Netscape installation, and probably also with IE (the Bloatbuster cabal of course has no experience to draw on there).

Post Netscape install but pre-update the S/F plugin requires no Registry entries and no files external to the Netscape Plugins folder (default is Program Files\Netscape\Communicator\Program\Plugins).

Updating the S/F plugin involves downloading a stub setup program. The remainder of the files are then retrieved during the install while connected with the browser fired up. After updating the plugin, first to version 7 and then version 8, the situation looks like this:

  1. Registry
    • 51 keys under HKCR
    • 367 keys under HKCU\Software\Macromedia\Shockwave
    • 348 keys under HKCU\Software\Macromedia\Shockwave 8
  2. 10.4MB of files in %system%\Macromedia
  3. 302KB of files in the Netscape Plugins folder
  4. Various temporary and cache files

Here is the punch line: neither the Registry entries nor the files in the %system% folder are necessary. If you restore the Registry and the %system% folder to their pre-"upgrade" states and then point-and-click your way to a Web page that calls a Flash animation, it will display without a problem.

The 10.4MB of extraneous file bulk speaks for itself. At least it sits off in a corner, nursing its drink and not harming anyone except for taking up good space that could be taken by paying customers. But the Registry keys - the total is 766 keys, which means about 200KB of additional Registry overhead heft before accounting for the Registry values themselves, weighing down each and every Registry call by the OS.

All of the values are text strings, as opposed to binary or DWORD, so the cumulative additional bloat from the Registry values is obviously nontrivial. When active the OS makes hundreds of Registry calls per second...

What a shockwave of BLOAT! Thank you Macromedia! We would have expected better, or at least a warning.

PS: This is hardly the only case of a boatload of crap being dumped into the HKCU\Software\<ISV> Registry branch. Adobe Acrobat Reader inserts 57 keys there, and if you delete them it will put them right back next time you run the program.


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