Friday night topic: Slimy software companies

I'll admit it. I actually bought a piece of software from Corel today. I decided to upgrade to Paint Shop Pro X5 from several versions back, so I looked through the confusing list of new features built into the latest revision, became thoroughly dazzled and confused, and gave them my money. All I really wanted was to import RAW files from my camera and adjust the white balance easily.

Still, participating in the transaction, as with so many with major PC software companies, made me feel a little slimy.

Shamefully, in my rush and confusion, I ponied up an extra ten bucks to get the "Ultimate" edition for additions whose value was unclear, telling myself that it was "only $10." Later, realizing what I'd done, I cried a little to myself. You never bite on the upsell, and I knew better. I have yet to install the "Ultimate" extras. I doubt I ever will.

When I added the download-only version of the program to my cart and went to check out, Corel had "automagically" thrown an additional item: "download insurance" for $9.99. If you buy this "insurance," Corel pledges to let you download another copy of the program in the event that you lose yours in a disk crash or whatnot. I carefully removed the item from my cart and checked out. On the next page, I was told that downloading the software wouldn't be necessary for users of the freely downloadable demo, because the software key will unlock the demo into the full version.

Ugh. I need a shower to get off the stank.

Doesn't it seem that many of the major PC software companies are basically evil? You know what I mean, right? They seem to employ nearly every slimy tactic possible. They refuse to fix simple bugs, instead requiring users to upgrade to new versions to get fixes. They scramble their interfaces to make programs seem "new" from one rev to the next, nuking usability and wasting our time in the process. They bundle all sorts of things we don't want with the software we do. On and on.

Why does this situation persist in 2012? Don't just say greed: most companies eventually realize being actively hostile to customers is bad policy. At times, it feels like the major PC makers and software firms both are enaged in some sort of suicide pact. This can't end well for, uh, non-walled gardens. Can it?

Discuss. And let me know who you think is the worst offender. Besides Intuit, of course.

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