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May 26, 2006

25 worst tech products of all time

Posted by Kim Peterson at 11:21 AM

Because it's Friday and Fridays were made for silly lists like this: PCWorld.com names the 25 worst tech products of all time. Puget Sound has some fine contributions to this Hall of Shame, including:

RealNetworks' RealPlayer -- 1999 (Ranked No. 2)

A frustrating inability to play media files -- due in part to constantly changing file formats -- was only part of Real's problem. RealPlayer also had a disturbing way of making itself a little too much at home on your PC--installing itself as the default media player, taking liberties with your Windows Registry, popping up annoying "messages" that were really just advertisements, and so on.

Microsoft Windows Millennium -- 2000 (Ranked No. 4)

Windows Millennium Edition (aka Me, or the Mistake Edition) was Microsoft's follow-up to Windows 98 SE for home users. Shortly after Me appeared in late 2000, users reported problems installing it, getting it to run, getting it to work with other hardware or software, and getting it to stop running.

Microsoft Bob -- 1995 (Ranked No. 7)

No list of the worst of the worst would be complete without Windows' idiot cousin, Bob. Designed as a "social" interface for Windows 3.1, Bob featured a living room filled with clickable objects, and a series of cartoon "helpers" like Chaos the Cat and Scuzz the Rat that walked you through a small suite of applications.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 -- 2001 (Ranked No. 8)

Full of features, easy to use, and a virtual engraved invitation to hackers and other digital delinquents, Internet Explorer 6.x might be the least secure software on the planet.

MusicNet -- 2002 (Tied with Pressplay for No. 9 ranking)
Note: MusicNet is headquartered in New York, but has offices in Seattle.

In 2002, two online services backed by music industry giants proposed giving consumers a legitimate alternative to illegal file sharing. But the services' stunningly brain-dead features showed that the record companies still didn't get it.... MusicNet cost $10 per month for 100 streamed songs and 100 downloads, but each downloaded audio file expired after only 30 days, and every time you renewed the song it counted against your allotment.

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