McAfee failed to initialize

A message popped up out of the blue:

McAfee AutoUpdate Properties – AutoUpdate

Failed to initialize Common Updater subsystem. Make sure the McAfee Framework Service is running.

McAfee Common Framework returned error fffff95b @ 2

OK

The tray McAfee icon reports that the McAfee status is OK.

Seemingly the message is OK. It tells me what did not happen “failed to initialize”. It also tells me what to do ” Make sure the McAfee Framework Service is running.” And finally it gives me an error code that I can use to find info.

Still, I do not understand it. The text of this message assumes deep understanding of the McAfee product. The words “initialize” and “subsystem” and the error code make me believe that the designers expected that the readers of the message will be very technically adept. Well, I am not. My assumption is that the McAfee AutoUpdate program, which is supposed to update the virus definitions, is not able to do its work for some reason. The reason itself is probably encoded through the code “fffff95b @ 2”.

I searched for McAfee Common Framework returned error fffff95b @ 2 and found a few articles. An article on the McAfee knowledge center claims that the cause is unregistered or missing DLLs.

Problems

1. There are 5 distinct names in the message “AutoUpdate Properties”, “AutoUpdate”, “Common Updater” “Framework Service” or “Common Framework”. It is not clear whether these are different tools or different names for the same thing.

2. Missing info on the effect of the problem. It is not clear how seriously the McAfee program is affected.

3. No link to additional information. Making sure the McAfee Framework Service is running is not a trivial task.
I could not do it. There is no such service in my list of services.

4. OK button. No, it is not OK. Obviously there is a problem, and my computer is probably not protected.

Fix

Quick and dirty: Rewrite the message to make it less technical and include a sentence advising users without technical knowledge and skills to contact adequate support.

Design for humans: I cannot recommend anything as I do not know enough details but I am sure there are ways to design an interaction that will provide more positive user experiences.

30 March 2015 | McAfee

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