Monday, March 4, 2024

Ordinary Users Don't Stand a Chance

I have a “tax PC”: an old HP running Windows 10, that spends ten months of the year in a closet, and two months hooked up to a segment of my home network where it's unlikely to be attacked by the various network-attached devices living in my house. Each February I spend a couple of days applying the year's accumulated Windows updates, then I install Turbo-Tax so that I can do my taxes.

This year the Turbo-Tax installation failed:

Turbo-Tax installation error

I Google for the missing DLL, and end up on a Microsoft-hosted discussion board where the first answer says that I need to update my Visual C++ runtime, and provides a link to some third-party software site.

I look in my computer's list of applications and see that I have the “2010” runtime. Apparently that isn't something that Windows Update considers important. So I go to a Microsoft-hosted page, download the x64 version of the runtime (because the Windows “About” page tells me that I have an x64 computer with 64-bit OS installed), and … get the same error.

Perhaps Turbo-Tax isn't using the latest Visual C++ (never mind that the runtime advertises itself as being for 2015 onward). So I downloaded and installed the x64 versions the other runtimes, rebooted, and tried again. And the installer failed again.

Intuit provides a page titled “Troubleshoot installation and running TurboTax for Windows.” This page is the first result if you go to their Support page and search for the DLL name. It tells you to do things like “Check your TurboTax CD and computer's CD drive” and “Clean up and defragment your hard drive.”

I kept digging through search results, and eventually I found a discussion board posting in which someone says that they had to install the x86 version of the Visual C++ runtime. OK, that makes sense: lowest-common denominator, X86 libraries work on an x64 processor. So I did that, installed, rebooted, and the installer ran successfuly. According to a comment on that thread, the runtime should have been provided on the Turbo-Tax CD but wasn't.

I've been a professional software developer for 40 years. I don't use Windows, but I know what a DLL is, and I'm comfortable with searching the web for answers. More important, I can identify a sketchy answer, and don't download from random links on the Internet. But what about people that don't have that knowledge?

Maybe there aren't any other people who run Turbo-Tax locally, installing from physical media. Or maybe everybody else installs on their brand-new PC running Windows 11, with all the latest runtimes installed. But I have to believe that I'm not unique. There must be other people that have run into this problem.

What do they do?

No comments: