Trials and Tribulations of Updating PGP Desktop

I somehow missed the news in April last year that Symantec would be acquiring PGP. Symantec doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation amongst technical people (my Dell laptop still has some mystical, seemingly uninstallable software components from a Symantec product that was on there when I bought it that I could never get rid of), so I’m sure if I had known about it, it would have filled me with dread.

I found out about it today when I loaded PGP Desktop and realised I hadn’t checked for updates for a while. Normally I haven’t needed to – PGP were pretty good about emailing me about updates. So I opened the application and hit Help->Update. After a split second of thinking, I’m greeted with a dialog telling me: “Product manifest from the PGP Corporation update server fails the integrity check. Please try again later.” I tried again later, same thing, so I did the next step anyone would try when troubleshooting and Googled the error message.

I was directed to this thread on the Symantec forums (never a good sign when the first hits aren’t in some support knowledge base). Fortunately, it had a reply from a Symantec tech support person, so that was good news.

The reply advised users experiencing the problem to download this PDF. Another bad sign. Why isn’t this just linked on a website? Load the PDF and you’re greeted with something that looks like this:

Really? You can’t even get the slashes the right way around in your hyperlinks? Dread level increasing.

Anyway, I tried the process. Went to the URL in point 1 and was told I need to sign up for an account. No worries, makes sense after reading the rest of the document – you get access to a license management section in the Symantec website, so an account seems like a reasonable thing. A relatively painless process; didn’t even need to activate. Tried to log in – more dread:

Augh. Stuck.

I realise that Symantec probably have a bit of work to do as part of the changeover – they say as much in the forum post. But getting software updates seems like enough of a Big Deal to warrant a bit more effort – not to say attention to detail – if they expect corporate customers to want to keep coming back. If I wanted to go to all this effort with desktop encryption software and keeping it up to date, I’d be using GPG.

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