The contradictory dialog: Click Finish to begin

I was installing a program and its setup wizard said, and I am not making this up,

Click Finish to begin installation.

But wait, the weirdness doesn't end there. After you click Finish, the program installation completes, and then you get another page that tells you to click Close.

This is misuse of the Finish button. Finish does not mean Almost finished. If the user clicks the Finish button, that's it. No more wizard pages. It's finished.

The last two wizard pages should have read

Click Next to begin installation.

You have successfully installed LitWare 2.0. To close this wizard, click Finish.

Comments (38)
  1. . says:

    Pre-emptive snarky comment: Click Start to Shutdown

    [It’s not enough to say that something is bad; you have to say what would be better. I explained what would be better in this example. Now it’s your turn. -Raymond]
  2. . <the sequel> says:

    Post-pre-emptive snarky comment: Please restart your computer to complete the installation.

    [It’s not enough to say that something is bad; you have to say what would be better. I explained what would be better in this example. Now it’s your turn. -Raymond]
  3. Will says:

    Maybe they meant "Click Finnish to begin installation," and this belongs under the Engrish post?

    Makes me wonder, has a non-Fin in Finland ever seen a Finish button and complained that they’re not Finnish so they can’t continue?

  4. Clicking Start to shutdown kind of makes sense if you think about it like this. "I’m ‘Start’ing the shutdown task." Still, it is a bit confusing. I’m guessing that’s why they took out the text in Vista.

  5. noone in particular says:

    "has a non-Fin in Finland ever seen a Finish button and complained that they’re not Finnish so they can’t continue?"

    Well, they got Fins, moose and log cabins there. The latter two don’t tend to complain…

    @Patrick Jakubowski:

    Th the same way, you could argue "I am finished inputting all the stuff the installer wants from me (e.g. install dir, install for just me or anyone, with icon on the desktop or with sauce?)"

  6. glossary says:

    > Clicking Start to shutdown kind of makes sense if you think about it like this. "I’m ‘Start’ing the shutdown task." Still, it is a bit confusing. I’m guessing that’s why they took out the text in Vista.

    And clicking "Finish" to start the installation is "finishing" the preparation phase.

  7. JamesNT says:

    If clicking start to shutdown is so weird, why do I have to turn the ignition of my car to shutdown the motor?


  8. Rafa Vargas says:

    Something as weird as you tells happened to me last week with Windows Media Player.

    I ran it and it gently told me the following: "To use Windows Media Player, log off from Windows, log back on and start Windows Media Player".

    Check my blog post about this:

  9. mh says:

    I believe the reason why you click Start to shutdown was explained on this very blog some time ago, so maybe it’s time to leave that particular dead horse alone?

    I too read it as finishing the prep phase and beginning the actual installation, but yeah it’s weird.

  10. Joe Butler says:

    JamesNT et al.  ‘Start’ is not really in the same category as the ‘Finish’ button, is it.  The ‘Start’ button label is a kind of device to encourage inexperienced users to click it – sort of like ‘Drink Me’, but ‘Click Me’ is longer and just don’t seem right, somehow.  Once you’ve seen what’s in the ‘Start Menu’, the label is unnecessary.  Maybe it’s not perfect to have ‘shutdown’ in that menu, but where else, and hopefully people will have noticed it before they need to use it, and even if they don’t, these days the button on the front of the pc is enough to turn it off. If someone has gotten to the ‘Finish’ button on a wizard, then they must have understood the wizard enough to click the right buttons so far.  All Raymond was pointing out, I guess, was that to use ‘Finish’ in this context was wrong; it presumably breaks GUI guidelines meant to keep such things consistent.  When you are turning your car ignition you are reversing the turning on action and you also have no business turning ignition keys without a driver’s licence or a tutor there anyway, so it’s just not a good analogy in my opinion.  And I don’t have a better one either.

  11. Aaron says:

    I actually fussed over this language in a few of our wizards.  I ended up using the Finish button but changing the text to "Preview" or "Save", and only "Finish" after committing all work.  Bad idea maybe?

  12. Dmitry Kolosov says:

    In Windows Mobile, you click "Turn on Flight Mode" to turn off radio interfaces (Bluetooth, WiFi).

  13. Qian says:

    I would like an installer that says, "This is not the end, or even the beginning of the end.  But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.  Click Finish to Begin Installation."  Preferably in a Winston Churchill drawl.

  14. Bob Arnson says:

    In WixUI, we use more explicit action buttons like "Install."

  15. foxyshadis says:

    I’m not saying this as a snarky comment, but they might have seen this behavior in the Add Printer Wizard, which does the grunt work of actually installing the driver and printing the test page after you hit finish, but at least it doesn’t come up with another screen with a close button after that.

  16. MadQ1 says:

    My favorite pet peeve about installers is that they invariably insist on restarting your computer when it’s almost always completely unnecessary. Some driver installers go as far as to stop the current version of the driver, install the updated version, but instead of just starting the driver again, they want to reboot. Of course, Windows Update is an obvious exception.

    There are two reason that I can think of why most installers want to reboot when they’re done:

    1. The software used to create the installer has "restart required" selected as a default, and the developer is just too lazy to uncheck it. One particular product comes to mind, and it still creates 16-bit installer executables to this day.
    2. Something I call Faith Based Computing. This where the developer insists on a restart just for good measure, because "you just never know." (Other examples of faith based computing include hitting ctrl-c repeatedly to make sure that text is REALLY in the clipboard)

    After installing something I usually just check the PendingFileRenameOperations in the registry. If there aren’t any, I check the RunOnce keys. If there’s something in there, I just run it manually. This has yet to fail me.

    The irony of it all is that I remember way back when (I forget the particular Windows versions) Microsoft got an incredible amount of grief because Windows had to be restarted all the time. So Microsoft listened, and the next version had to be restarted hardly ever. Except that all the new installers for the new Windows version still insisted on it.

    Oh, woe!

  17. Nathan_works says:

    I can see how some might blame this on MSI for this with it’s multiple install sequences. "Finish" finishes the UI sequence and moves on to the execute sequence.

  18. Bielawski says:

    Windows 2000 and later have a single-page wizard! In Vista the wording of the wizard was changed to be more like a dialog and less like a wizard, but the wizard format stayed (and was even updated to an "Aero Wizard"). I’m surprised that during seven years nobody just changed that wizard to a property page with a hidden tab. Oh, and it also does its action when the Finish button is clicked!

  19. Leo Davidson says:

    MadQ, Many (though not all) installer systems only prompt you for a reboot if they couldn’t replace a file because it was in-use.

    Most of the time this is because of DLLs which are locked in ways that have no mechanism for unlocking. e.g. Hook DLLs (which are loaded into every UI process and then cannot be unloaded), or Shell Extension DLLs (where there’s no way to ask Explorer to unload them, though maybe the restart manager stuff in Vista solves that problem now).

    Sometimes the only real thing you can do to avoid the situation is make the DLLs a tiny proxy which talks to your real DLL, and provide some mechanism to tell the proxy to let go and not contact the real DLL until you are done replacing it. (With the assumption that your hook DLL very rarely needs changing and thus doesn’t need overwriting on an update.) That can obviously be rather complex when your DLL is running inside of 3rd party processes.

  20. Ens says:

    "(Other examples of faith based computing include hitting ctrl-c repeatedly to make sure that text is REALLY in the clipboard)"

    I’ve done that, as well as hitting the save button multiple times.  Because sometimes it fails in a probabilistic fashion.  Surely everyone here has had a story of a save that didn’t "take" for some reason, particularly with earlier versions of Office or its contemporary competitors.

    Some software, such as Firefox betas or even full versions with certain extensions, do the same thing with CTRL-C.  It might be that they’re doing [cross-platform thing for clipboards/equivalents] which occasionally fails where most programs succeed "effortlessly", to use the word loosely.  I’ve seen it happen three times in a row once, each time trying to paste into an IM window.  The fourth time, it just worked.  Thus, when I’m pasting to IM from a firefox window, I often spam the ‘C’ key like I used to do with the ‘S’ key.  Maybe I’m just making some subtle timing problem worse by doing this, but it’s never failed me once doing that (admittedly, this is rare enough that it could be coincidence, and I’ve taken to clicking a link before sending it in IM anyway to avoid confusion).

  21. steveg says:

    "Clicking Start to shutdown kind of makes sense if you think about it like this. "I’m ‘Start’ing the shutdown task." Still, it is a bit confusing. I’m guessing that’s why they took out the text in Vista."

    Possibly it was the MS marketing dept having another flash of Brand Over Usability.

    After spending so many years using XP + 95 I am not really able to tell if removing "Start" from the Vista Start menu is a good idea.

    I’m 90% sure it is a Bad Idea for newbies. I base this metric on the way Office 2007 has removed the word "File" from the File menu — I’ve not seen one person work that one out intuitively.

    And to get slightly back on topic: I worked on a product which had a Select command in the menu bar (which in the olden days would have been Select!). I couldn’t explain to the team how awful that was despite multiple attempts, they just didn’t understand GUI (unix programmers writing their first Windows app). "So the user selects the <thing> and then selects Select?".

    At least I got them to change the OK and Cancel buttons around.

  22. Anon says:

    In Arabic Windows does the Submit button say "Islam"?

  23. Puckdropper says:

    I had one install program tell me that upon clicking "Finish" that installer would end and a different installer would open up.  This was for a third party extension the program used, so they couldn’t combine the two.

  24. Al says:

    JamesNT: that’s like saying "why do I have to turn a lock to unlock a door". The point is that one way does the action, and another way undoes the action. Start to shutdown is the exact same action for starting and shutting down (not that I’m complaining about that feature, I’m perfectly happy with that, just saying).

  25. RonO says:

    "(Other examples of faith based computing include hitting ctrl-c repeatedly to make sure that text is REALLY in the clipboard)"

    On my development system, the virtual machines (under Virtual PC) often get into a state where I cannot copy from a specific virtual machine to the host system.  Several copy requests are required on the host to get the data into the clipboard in such a way the specific virtual machine can accept a paste request of the data (and even then it still fails from time to time).

    Creating a new virtual will work as expected for some indeterminate period of time.  Every time I’ve copyied one of these problematic virtual machines to a different system (such as my laptop), the copy/paste functionality works as expected.

    This isn’t a "Windows sucks" message.  Just an anecdotal story on why I often must perform a copy request multiple times.

  26. Anonymous! says:

    Perhaps some parts of the installation are already done, and by pressing the button I am telling the install wizard that I want it to go ahead and Finish.  Seems ok with me if it has to do some more work in order to Finish.

  27. anonymous says:

    (I am not really able to tell if removing "Start" from the Vista Start menu is a good idea. )

    It would have been a good idea if the new button wouldn’t stand out of the taskbar and be so insanely huge. On the other hand, the size of the task bar still doesn’t scale directly, so on a 1920×1200 screen it’s either one row (that is, too small) or two rows (that is, too big, and there’s space left  above/below the start button).

    But well, it’s Vista anyway, so I would never bother using it on a non-virtual machine.

  28. MadQ1 says:

    Leo: Yes, that’s why I check the Session Manager’s PendingFileRenameOperations in the registry.

    However, hook DLLs can easily be unloaded from all processes by calling UnhookWindowsHookEx, and sending WM_NULL to all windows, preferably by using EnumWindows and SendMessageTimeout in your EnumWindowsProc. If the SendMessageTimeout calls were all successful, the DLL is guaranteed to have been unloaded. Nitpick: Unless you increased the DLL’s reference count using LoadLibrary, LoadLibraryEx, or GetModuleHandleEx without balanced FreeLibrary calls.

    If the DLL still can’t be overwritten after that, you can still resort to requiring a reboot, in which case it will show up in the PendingFileRenameOperations.

    As for shell extensions, you really should change the name of the DLL from one version to the next to avoid DLL Hell.

    I’ll have to disagree with you about most installers wanting to reboot only when necessary. In my experience, those are few and far inbetween.

  29. pm says:

    actually the microsoft  wizard design guidelines say that the last page should say what the software going to do as a result of the selections the user made and that clicking finish actually does the stuff i.e finish == commit. You are not supposed to have performed any actions until the user presses finish

    now if the wizard is guiding you through an install then the install is not supposed to run until the user clicks finish.

    So whats a UI designer to do? The wizard model is set. So I could say ‘click finish to complete the installation’ this is ok. (Its a white lie becuase it hasnt even started but thats OK). The main problem is that the install probably runs for 10 minutes. Now what should the UI do? Probably a progress bar in with no active button – or a cancel button? What to do when the install finishes? just close the wizard?

    the real problme here is that the wizard paradigm is stretched into areas that it was not designed for (I think there are too many wizard now days but thats a different argument)

  30. Bryan says:


    Another standard message you likely ignored to get to that point is that you should close all running applications and programs prior to continuing.  Because you elected to not follow that direction you get the less clear error message above.

    A basic google of that error message resulted in about 10 KBs all of which generally read "Please, really DO close down running applications like it says."

    Not to say that the error message is particularly well worded either though.

  31. stosw says:

    @Bob Arnson:

    That’s great! Exactly what i had in mind when I read this post.

    I hate it when a wizard finishes after pressing next and then has a last page that says ‘Done!’ and a button labelled *finish* fcol. Among others the Windows XP Setup does this, as well as the IE7 installer.

    What would be better:

    1. The installation/im/export/we starts after finishing the wizard, progress is shown in a new dialog box. When it’s finished, you get a dialog box saying ‘Woopdeedoo! All done!’

    2. WIX or Mac OS method, with more meaningful buttons

    I agree with WIX that a ‘next’ button means i can expect a ‘back’ button that’ll get me what i’m looking at now.

  32. peterchen says:

    My favorite Installation message (it’s actually a standard messgae of Installshield)

    "An option you selected requires that files be installed to or unenstalled from your system, or both. A locked file, xxxx, was found while preforming the needed file operation. To leave this file as it is on your system, click retry, or to preform the operation when your system is rebooted, click reboot."

    Or similary, describing a version conflict or noting a read-only file to be replaced.

    What’s wrong with this?

    (a) Blaming the user

    "it’s An option YOU selected!, it’s all your fault! Why are you doing this to me?"

    (b) Not telling the user what actually happens ("I Have to do this, or that, but I won’t tell you which. Which pan should I use?)

    (c) Asking a question the average user usually cannot answer

    ("The farculator is gurbunkled. proximate her?")

    (d) information bloat for a tiny message box

    (e) One message box for each file.

    What would be better:

    * Supporting the creator of the installer in dealing with these

    * Providing clear information

    * Asking a question the user CAN answer

    Oh, and for one of the "tell me what would be better" questions:

    If you advertise a product update as

    (a) requires less reboots than previous versions

    (b) now supports updating itself automatically from the internet

    Then please make sure that either the magic update does naggingly ask for a reboot every time it is used, or sto advertising it as "requires less reboots".

    Happy now? :-D

  33. peterchen says:


    Yes, because closing running applications will also remove read only attributes, change DLL versions back to previous ones, and even adjust the language ressources to "wildcard".

    Because that’s other scenarios where I have seen the message.

    Besides, I DO close my applications. It’s my users who don’t.

    And besides besides, how to avoid the message is not the point of my reply.

  34. nayart3 says:

    The Start > Shutdown actually makes a lot o sense. It’s implies were starting a shutdown, however, finish to begin installation is kind weird.

  35. Ben Voigt says:

    Why not (horrors) put an accurate verb on the button?  Like, I don’t know, maybe "Install" (or reinstall or repair if the user called up the install from add/remove programs)?  After all, it’s been quite a few Windows versions since the Save or Open dialog boxes had an OK button.

  36. David Walker says:

    With enough software design, reboots could be eliminated on any update or install.  It might take a near-infinite amount of work, though.

    It is theoretically possible to suspend all processes, move everything in memory and on disk around to where they *would be* after the "reboot" that you are avoiding, and then start all processes again.

    But the complexity of writing code to figure out how to DO that is probably too great to be practical.

  37. Stefan Ciobaca says:

    The real WTF here is the installer having/requiring two user "interactions"… in a wizard. But I guess after you’ve installed one too many programs in Windows, you get used to it.

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content