What the four-phase hell is it about CD writing software these days? Specifically Nero. Why in the ninth level of hell should I want software, whose primary purpose is to create CDs or DVDs, to take over the whole system, take over file associations for just about every conceivable type of image, audio and video file? Even more, why should said software present a giant-ass full-screen menu system which presents no text, just a bunch of semi-intuitive icons? Is this their idea of "easy"? It's not hard per se, just clunky and severely obstructive.
Phooey, I say! Full-screen is good for games. It's good for movies - but only the movie itself. The interface of the player should be confined to a nice, little well-behaved window. CD writing apps don't need to take over the entire system, just provide the requisite features through a reasonably well-designed interface. Nero pretty much fails at this. Even once I did dismiss the ugly full-screen thinger that denied me access to, er, the rest of Windows, and finally scared up the gorram "burn a data DVD" option, it gave me this damn-fool wizard.
Now, I can understand how the process of writing a data DVD is a little inaccessible to Aunt Tillie. I can even understand how a wizard makes this easier. The only problem is, this wasn't a particularly good wizard! It presented me with an option for the volume name of the disc. Fine. But below this were fields for some slightly more obscure ISO9660 text attributes, that were mysteriously grayed out. I actually wanted to modify these, but there was no apparent way to. Nothing I could click, either in the main wizard, nor in the advanced dialog, seemed to make these editable. If the fields can't be changed, why even provide them? What's more, why make them immutable? These are user-settable attributes, not something magically ginned up by the system that must never be changed on pain of death! If you think they'd scare Aunt Tillie, tuck them away in the Advanced dialog - that's what it's for!
The world of CD writing on Windows seems very sad to me. You have either Nero with its blind-idiot-designed interface, or Roxio Easy CD Creator with its tendency to mysteriously fail. Oh, and it wants to take over the whole system too, and festoon your desktop with useless toolbars and drop targets, just like Nero! Or, there's five tons of shareware crap. Most authors want about $30 for it - not much less than the basic editions of Nero or Roxio, but a lot fewer features. some have better interfaces, some not. And don't get me started on XP's pathetic built-in CD writing capabilities. There's just not much good CD writing software out there for any platform, frankly. Toast for Mac OS X isn't too bad, and neither is K3b (for Unix), but they're really the only gems in a sea of bullshit - at least, that I've found so far.
Is it too much to ask to have an application that's fast, stable(*), secure, featureful as it needs to be, and has a reasonable interface? And by reasonable, I mean straightforward, but without ripping out all the advanced functionality, and without blowing a hundred megs of RAM on shiny, huge pixmap interfaces or skinned monstrosities! What's so frelling wrong with using the native widget set? Yes, yes, I realize the Windows 2000 look is a skosh dated, but it works. And come on, the Vista default look isn't that bad, either. (It's not spectacular, but that's beside the point. And let's just forget that the Luna/Fisher Price OS experiment ever existed, kthxbye?) Seriously. Skins have their place, but too many apps take it way too far these days. Now, this isn't just a problem on Windows - it's endemic to Unix as well - but Windows has the most traction, and most of the problem in Unix-land comes from parroting of Windows interface trends. (For better or worse - I don't like it, but I won't deny it, either.)
(*) - By stable, I don't necessarily mean the app itself. If it decides to crash on me, that's annoying. But when it leaves the entire machine in a dubious state, that's indefensible. The worst a CD writing app should be able to do is leave the CD drive in a wonky state. I've had this happen to me on Linux and Solaris. But the same fault on Windows tends to leave the entire system either hung or almost unusably slow, necessitating a reboot to do anything useful, whether it needs the CD drive or not.