Firstly, let me say that I don’t mind the SmartWare software coming pre-installed on the drive, as long as it can easily be deleted/reformatted or whatever. In fact, that’s what I had assumed when I looked at the box in the store. It doesn’t say anywhere on the box that the software may not be deleted.
The real concern is the VCD. This is a really bad idea. Firstly, it actually removes functionality for a particular subset of users that want to be able to install operating systems on their passports, because they are now unable to boot off them. The VCD gets in the way. This doesn’t directly affect me, and probably wouldn’t affect most of your users, but it is a concern none the less. Back in the day, I wouldn’t have purchased a box of floppy disks if they had no boot sector. Would anyone have?
I realise that the user is able to download and install some software to make the VCD invisible to their computer, but this is little more than a cheap trick. The software is still there, and this official work-around does absolutely nothing to address the booting issue. I suspect that the kind of user that actually wants to use SmartWare will not care if some space on their Passport drive is comsumed by it, or will be blissfully unaware that this is the case. Either way, by allowing this to materialize, WD have exercised some extremely poor judgment at the product design phase.
I sincerely hope that WD remove the VCD altogether. I’ve been a loyal customer for almost 20 years. My computers all have WD hard disks. I have several of the older model Passports that have been perfectly reliable. As sad as it is to say, for the foreseeable future, I will not be buying any portable hard drive which has the word “SmartWare” on the box… and I have already started advising friends to avoid them as well.
It is very upsetting to see WD going down this path.