The 7 Most Annoying Developments in Software

When did software get annoying? There was a time when a new release of a popular program was so exciting and useful that we couldn't wait to try it out. Now, some software seems almost like it's deliberately designed to irritate you, with everything from persistent update and registration requests to sunset policies that cripple perfectly good applications. Marketers have taken over product design, and the products are the worse for it.

I talked to other editors here at PC World to compile this list of some of the most irritating developments in software. Did we miss anything? Let me know in the comments. And let's hope the software publishers out there are listening.

1. The Antipiracy Inquisition

I get that software publishers want to be paid for their work, and that the honor system wasn't working. But some of the technologies designed to keep us honest have to rank among the most annoying schemes ever to grace our monitors.

Take product keys, widely used by the likes of Adobe, Microsoft, Palm developers, Intuit and others. The problem with these keys is that whenever you switch machines or have to reinstall an app for any reason, they're never handy--leaving us, in some cases, to the tender mercies of customer support (or with no recourse at all).

If there's no way around product keys, I wish more companies would follow the lead of those that tie licenses to your e-mail address, so that if disaster strikes you can just download the app and get a key by typing in your address and a password that you create. Adobe does this for its registered customers, as do some game download sites.

And no discussion of antipiracy measures can be complete without mentioning, yet again, Microsoft's incredibly obnoxious Windows Genuine Advantage, which lets Microsoft check for counterfeit copies of its OS--that is, when it's working properly (you can read PC World Editor in Chief Harry McCracken's thoughts about last summer's meltdown of WGA authentication servers). It's incredibly irritating that, to get nearly anything Windows-related from Microsoft (the Windows Defender antispyware app, for instance, or noncritical updates), you have to prove to the company's satisfaction (over and over again) that your copy of Windows is authentic.

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