This affliction seems to have infected the majority of small (what once would have been called 'shareware') software developers. Everyone knows that Paint Shop Pro, way, way back when they were only on version 4, was a fast, lean bitmap paint package which supported lots of file formats. But then JASC realised that as users were content with their software (which wasn't even time limited), they wouldn't be able to make any more money. So version 5 and all subsequent versions have been largely useless imitations of Adobe Photoshop. It's kind of like Volkswagen claiming that the Beetle can outperform a Ferrari.

Of course, the barrage of bloat leads to the program becoming slow and nullifying the advantages that made it popular in the first place (but now they have a recognised brand name they can easily sell it to the AOLusers who don't know any better). This stupid, user-hostile situation is at its worst in the field of image viewer programs (such as ACDSee and PicViewer). Any monkey with a copy of Visual Studio and a good book about file formats can write a pic viewer in an afternoon. But to look at these... aberrations, you'd think they were some kind of NASA launch control software.

They'll nag you, impose a time limit, and install a myriad of bullshit features that no-one needs. (And to think I only resorted to the damn things because it took so long to load PSP!) There was a time when a new useful program could be installed painlessly, and was one, simple, non-memory resident, executable file. Now everything has to be a 'Suite' complete with 'Wizards' and 'Projects'.

MusicMatch Jukebox 6.0 (a useless piece of crap, by the way) opens something like 6 dialogs, including two tips of the day, a misleading nag to upgrade, and an attempt to steal your file associations (not to mention the fact it has the most non-intuitive UI this side of a fucking Altair). Sometimes an app can have features added in an acceptable, user-friendly way (Symantec and Roxio seem to know how to jazz up their software without destroying its core functionality) but it would appear that JASC, MusicMatch, and their ilk are far too stupid and greedy to learn from their example.

The best small apps and utilities don't have to resort to nagging or feature creep - if they're useful they get paid for. That is, of course, unless there's an Open Source alternative that performs even better.

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