McAfee flub sets off Twitter backlash storm

Is there room for lawsuits? Some thinks so.

After dealing with McAfee’s most recent fix that sabotaged Windows XP PC clients worldwide, users of the anti-virus software to Twitter to vent their rage, creating a public-relations and legal nightmare that will likely continue long after the last machine is patched.

“I hate McAfee,” more than one Tweeter wrote, summing up the frustration felt when a McAfee update identified a “normal Windows process” as malware and killed it, kicking off a death spiral for the affected machines.

Another Tweet: “McAfee DAT 5958, you've made...no wait, what’s the opposite of "made my day"?... you've DESTROYED MY DAY. hate you McAfee. HAAATEEEEE.”

“VirusScan,” another person Tweeted. “The cure is worse than the disease.”

“Over 1000 PCs in my organization brought down by the very software that’s supposed to protect it,” wrote another.With McAfee’s Web site slammed by users looking for answers and getting none, users seemed incredulous that this flawed fix was released in the first place.

“Well,” said Robert Enger, a Los Angeles data communications and systems engineer, “McAfee to the rescue once again. :-( IT laptop croaked due to erroneous DAT file. I guess McAfee doesn't regression-test anything.”

“Not to mention McAfee not testing with the most common OS out there: Windows XP SP3. Defies belief really,” another Tweeter said.

One user who managed to find McAfee’s explanation of the cause couldn’t believe the benign description of the problem a little. “How can a non-working XP box be described as "moderate to significant performance issues" by McAfee?” Tweeted Mike Rohde of Milwaukee, Wis. “IT'S A DEAD PC!”

Is there room for lawsuits? Some thinks so. “What a disaster for McAfee…could be a bankruptcy-type event when it's all said and done,” said Derek Kaczmarczyk of Chicago.

“I wonder how many millions were lost today due to McAfee? Not just biz...Docs had to postpone surgeries, cops couldn't use in-car computers,” mused Chris McRae of Chatsworth, Calif., a self-described tech enthusiast.

For some on the fence about McAfee’s anti-virus software, the incident has pushed them over. “I’d been meaning to get rid of McAfee,” said Sheryl Westleigh a Maine artist, “(came installed).”

Some who weren’t affected reveled in the fact. “What a mistake, hmm?” says Alexander Arias, a personal trainer in Bogata, Colombia. “Fortunately I'm using Windows 7 on my PC.”

“Ha!,” says Jacob Larger of Columbus, Ohio. “Hate Vista now?”

“Apple only in our house,” said Arnold Jason, a musician in Stratford, Conn.

Others used Twitter to spread the cure, recommending sites such as Technoded], and Lifehacker.com.

One affected end-user even coined a new term for the massive effects of the problem. “Mcaffocalypse here at the University of North Dakota,” says Bill Caraher, an assistant history professor at the school.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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