Weekend Open Forum: Bloated software you refuse to abandon

By on May 31, 2013, 6:00 PM

Microsoft recently launched a no non-sense campaign calling IE the browser you love to hate. In a nutshell, they know they screwed up in previous releases, but they promise they’ve grown up. And that IE “is actually good now” -- their words, not mine. To be honest, now that we have some great alternatives in Chrome and Firefox, I haven’t bothered to give them a fair second chance. Likewise, there’s other software part of our daily lives that might deserve being replaced and yet we stick to it for lack of a better alternative -- or knowledge thereof.

Today we want to ask: What's the most bloated, slow, or terribly designed piece of software you still regularly use? My prime example would be iTunes, though I’ll admit it’s gotten better since version 11. And though I don’t use them anymore other likely candidates would be Microsoft Outlook and anything by Adobe.

While we’re at it feel free to help your TechSpot peers if you know of a better alternative for the bloated or otherwise sucky software they refuse to abandon. Sound off in the comments!

Image via Scott Schiller on Flickr




User Comments: 60

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3 people like this | JC713 JC713 said:

iTunes is my prime example also. It has been replaced by Spotify. I barely listen to music anymore on my iPhone so I just have no use for iTunes. But I have so much music from over the years, I refuse to uninstall it.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

About "LOL WTF"... You are in the process of uninstalling Antivirus. Even in 2005 it was already considered ill-advised using Internet without any antivirus, hence that note, nothing funny or to get excited about.

On the subject of antiviruses... I was using Avast! for 2 years, and was very-very happy about it, how wonderfully it is designed, and works without any glitches. But then I became concerned after looking at antivirus charts, to see Avast rating being really low compared to some alternatives, while being expensive. So, I made a mistake, I went for the recommended Bit Defender, which first turned out to be not any cheaper, and keeps popping up bugs and often crashes. What a terrible choice I made... And the UI in Bit Defender is horrific. I hate it... will go back to Avast when buying my next PC. Sorry for this little off topic.

soldier1969 soldier1969 said:

I can't get Itunes to work any longer even after multiple updates, uninstalling, reinstalling and nothing so its no more. I haven't used IE in many years, its been all Firefox and thunderbird for me.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Flash player.

but can't get rid off it.

you know: youtube, dailymotion...

Guest said:

The most bloated and time wasting thing I use on my PC is THE INTERNET.

I really should stop and uninstall it.

BlueDrake said:

The most bloated and time wasting thing I use on my PC is THE INTERNET.

I really should stop and uninstall it.

If only it was that simple. :P

Can I say Steam? :P lol

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Flash Player, there's still no way to ditch it. Speaking of Adobe, why on earth does Adobe Reader take up 300MB of disk space?

I was very happy the day I switched to Android from several years on iOS and could finally get rid of iTunes. No more creating playlists, syncing resized pictures and converting videos, just drag and drop. Also cleared many many GBs from my SSD.

Dawn1113 said:

Windows 7?

Flash player here, too. I've turned off a lot of the MS services and features -- although I'm not sure that helps to reduce the size of the OS on my SSD.

Google Chrome is getting bigger -- it's now at 290MB. I've redirected the cache but that didn't help much. I've likewise found a way to stop it from updating. It actually behaves like a virus -- doing stuff you don't want it to do. I'm thinking I should switch to another browser soon.

6 people like this | dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Origin

Go.To.Hell.

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

With today's software, wouldn't it be easier just to identify what isn't bloated? For that, DVDshrink and ImgBurn are all that come to mind.

Everything else just gets worse with every new release.

With mobile OSes, the bloat seems to be in the amount of stupid "Crapps" that you're expected to install. An app to get the weather from each TV channel in the area. A Starbucks app, iTunes....ad naseum.

Something that really pissed me off, is Amazon now forces you install proprietary applications, (sort of like iTunes), before they'll let you buy MP3s. And of course, that s*** is set to run on startup....

Wait, maybe that's the "Instant video". Ah who cares, same company different sort of the same nonsense.

2 people like this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

...[ ]...On the subject of antiviruses... I was using Avast! for 2 years, and was very-very happy about it, how wonderfully it is designed, and works without any glitches. But then I became concerned after looking at antivirus charts, to see Avast rating being really low compared to some alternatives, while being expensive. So, I made a mistake, I went for the recommended Bit Defender, which first turned out to be not any cheaper, and keeps popping up bugs and often crashes. What a terrible choice I made... And the UI in Bit Defender is horrific. I hate it... will go back to Avast when buying my next PC. Sorry for this little off topic.
You should be sorry. Just yank "Bit Defender" and reinstall the free version of "Avast". If you're that unhappy with Bit Defender, waiting to buy a new PC sounds well, a tad silly.

Roughly like keeping a toothache just so you can complain about it. Jus' sayin'.

Puiu Puiu said:

On the subject of antiviruses... I was using Avast! for 2 years, and was very-very happy about it, how wonderfully it is designed, and works without any glitches. But then I became concerned after looking at antivirus charts, to see Avast rating being really low compared to some alternatives, while being expensive. So, I made a mistake, I went for the recommended Bit Defender, which first turned out to be not any cheaper, and keeps popping up bugs and often crashes. What a terrible choice I made... And the UI in Bit Defender is horrific. I hate it... will go back to Avast when buying my next PC. Sorry for this little off topic.

You are one of the few people who has problems with Bitdefender. I don't why you had so many problems, but I'm assuming that your PC wasn't exactly in tip top shape. If you have the money to pay for it then Bitdefender is great, if not then just stick to the free Avast or AVG.

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

I read the title of the forum topic. More like "bloatware that refuses to abandon us!"

Guest said:

Nope, there is none of it.

SumatraPDF for PDF, Office 2003, and other small program that I use daily none of them are bloated.

The closest thing to bloted software that I use perhaps WMP12 and that because I can't find the matching equaliser setting for foobar so I'll stick with WMP.

1 person liked this | Elian Elian said:

Windows.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Windows.
Shhhh...! (You're not supposed to notice).

On the other hand, it is really a vicious cycle. As customers, "we want more and more features". From the Microsoft point of view, "and we've got plenty of bloat in which to package them for you".

If you think about, if Win 7's "Aero" wasn't bloat, why would M$ suggest you turn it off so that your computer will run faster?:oops:

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

SolidWorks, you have to keep updating to the latest version, else it just says "future version" if you try opening a CAD file made in the latest versions, very clever of them...

AutoCAD too but it's atleast better because you have the option to save in the older, backwards compatible formats.

And yea, of course anything that Adobe makes...

I actually don't think MS Outlook is that bad though? But I only use it for work, for private it's webmail all the way...

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I don't have any program on my PC I don't use and nothing starts with Windows unnecessarily. My phones a different story though. I wish I could remove all the garbage on it but I don't want to root it. I guess I'll have to live with that rubbish.

Guest said:

Several yeas ago I found a tiny program called wolf something or other. it prevented zero day attacks really well. Then it became a bigger program called threatfire, but not too big and I credit it though the years with preventing my teenagers from screwing up any of our computers. now it has been bought out by kaspersky which is a good, big piece of software that I do not want. so my advice is stop talking about the small free software that we all love or we will lose it.

Guest said:

Anything using java, netbeans for example...devs wtf are you guys building?

Firefox is bloating nicely these days, so going back to ie might not be so crazy if ms are genuine, haha.

Skype is bloated now also for no good reason.

Also, we should consider software that grabs inordinate amounts of RAM, loading a 1k HTML page in ANY modern browser claims many MB of memory, because devs don't give a shit anymore.

How about a piece of modern software that's unbelieviably tightly coded? Have a look at the music daw Reaper, it's around 10MB to download and uses a lot less resource than most browsers....for a professional production daw that's an impressive thing :)

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

...[ ]....And yea, of course anything that Adobe makes..
Photoshop Elements is particularly brutal. It's written by the lowest time, and probably lowest paid programmers the 3rd world can provide. It's just modules and modules of junk features piled on top of one another. I gave up on it a PSE-7, and it's up to I think version 11 ATM. None of the bugs seem to ever be fixed, there are never any worthwhile performance updates or bug fixes. The last time I got an "urgent update notice", it turned out to be an "update to the updater". Which simply would have turned out to be more f***ing adware..... !!!

Dear Adobe, "thanks, but no thanks", you keep it.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

..[ ]...How about a piece of modern software that's unbelieviably tightly coded? Have a look at the music daw Reaper, it's around 10MB to download and uses a lot less resource than most browsers....for a professional production daw that's an impressive thing
I've heard of "Reaper" and not only does it have a stellar reputation, it's that rarest of things in the DAW world, a true bargain.

With that said, I think the software houses have me brainwashed, as I find myself in the occasional absent minded musing, "wow, look at the size of that installer, that must be something really special"!

Then I break out of my bizarre reveries and I am sore ashamed of myself....:oops:

2 people like this | Guest said:

This has something that has boggled me for years. Winamp3.x used to run fine on a pI/II with 64/128mb of ram. Maybe a 20mb overhead? How does iTunes, winamp5 (6?), WMP, or any other piece of software require 100s of mb of RAM to play mp3s? A codec which is 20yrs old now.

My phone was powerful enough to play mp3s ten years ago.

Developers, please, just because there is extra RAM there does not mean you have to use it. More "features" does not equal better.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Not too fond of how bloated Acrobat reader has become.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Suppose it's just Flash Player for me. I'm pretty good at avoiding the big offenders.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Just yank "Bit Defender" and reinstall the free version of "Avast". If you're that unhappy with Bit Defender, waiting to buy a new PC sounds well, a tad silly.

The thing is, I was talking about buying the full Avast package again. I never used its free version. That's why I said I'd buy it again for the new PC.

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The real question is bloated software you can't afford to abandon. And what would your limited options be, if you did decide to abandon anyway? People always complain about bloat, but without bloat you would find yourself without options. I like having options and the ability to do practically anything with one install. I would not enjoy downloading 50 specialized apps and periodically checking for updates, simply because I turned my nose up at a single bloated app that would do it all.

I've always been a guy to buy a full set of tools, rather than purchasing a specialized piece just to get the job at hand done. This way I might actually have what I need next time around.

Here is another question for you. Who wants a house with more than one room per person? No one can spend their time in more than one room, so why all the other rooms? This desire to have mansions with rooms that are never used is more than enough proof that we love bloated housing. At least with software we all can have bloat.

Guest said:

This. Fricken plugin constantly crashes Firefox. Would get rid of it in a shot if you didn't need it for near enough every damn video and animation on the internet.

Duckula22 Duckula22 said:

I believe that those who code in exchange for a safe monthly wage have no incentive to give a 110%. Which is why software by large software corporations tends to get crappier and crappier over time.

Guest said:

Okay, maybe it won't block it if I write something random here...

clifford cooley: You might want to rethink that, as 'full of actually useful or good features' and bloated are two different things.

If a music player software allows me to use an equaliser, it is a useful feature, but if it wants to create DVD-covers and tries to defragment my hard drive, it is more like a bloat.

Cycloid Torus Cycloid Torus said:

Stickin' my neck out ...but I basically find that anything above version 3 or, maybe, 4... O/S, word processing, dvd players, browsers, etc. etc. are 'bloated'.

Programs start off with a purpose focus which then gets diffused. New features, ideas offered by the boss's spouse and in-laws, a module they give to the new kid programmer, etc creep in and make a home. Look at the relative size of Linux (which is not a 'bad' offender) compared to 15 years ago.

Beyond the necessary changes to adapt to new hardware (like touchscreen, multi-core processors, increase to 64 bit, color printers, touch screens), the rest of it is just putting more pretty holes in the doily ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doily ).

I would like to hear if anyone is doing ground-up re-writes of software...you know, starting with the architecture and taking real benefit of improvements in technology and technique.

Is there any benefit from a total re-write which provides consistency throughout the program (thinking specifically about Microsoft Windows defects in the 'error code' area)?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

clifford cooley: You might want to rethink that, as 'full of actually useful or good features' and bloated are two different things.
I'm sorry but there is nothing to re-think. Just because someone doesn't use or want a feature, doesn't mean no one will. Who is to say what is actually useful vs bloated. People use the word bloat where I see resource availability.

This is a prime example of why the Start Menu should not have been stripped from Windows 8, when the Start Screen was introduced. Microsoft decided to remove bloat. Was it bloat or something that was actually useful? The answer in return would depend on who you ask.

JC713 JC713 said:

Flash Player, there's still no way to ditch it. Speaking of Adobe, why on earth does Adobe Reader take up 300MB of disk space?

I was very happy the day I switched to Android from several years on iOS and could finally get rid of iTunes. No more creating playlists, syncing resized pictures and converting videos, just drag and drop. Also cleared many many GBs from my SSD.

I agree 100% xD. Reader is really sluggish, but it is better than the built in crap Chrome and Firefox has.

Origin

Go.To.Hell.

Lol, yes.

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

Flash player.

but can't get rid off it.

you know: youtube, dailymotion...

Both of which can play videos without Flash... ;-)

[link]

http://www.youtube.com/html5

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

The thing is, I was talking about buying the full Avast package again. I never used its free version. That's why I said I'd buy it again for the new PC.
OK, here's the thing, AV publishers don't want their name sullied by distributing free programs that don't defend against viruses or malware as well as their paid versions.

That would be like saying outright, "you'll still get infected with this program, so you have to pay anyway". The average customer with even a modicum of good sense would reply, "**** you then, I'm taking my non paying business someplace else. AND, there are many other places to go for free AV warez.

So now, they've been forced to make their money by brainwashing you into believing that you won't be safe, without paying for the more feature laden, "Internet security packages".

While I don't know Avast's exact policy, overall subscription prices have dropped, and in some cases extra PCs have been added to the licenses.

I use the latest AVG Free version, along with Spybot, (just for the "tea timer"/ hosts protection), and Firefox, with "NoScript" added. That PC is pretty damned bulletproof, and all of the foregoing is free software.

So, I'm going to stick by my original posted opinion, which goes something like, "then you should pull "BitDefender", and reinstall Avast Free, if that's what would stop you from complaining.

One note however, free AV programs generally lack the parental controls of internet security packages. I live alone, and have no need for such nonsense, or for that matter even passwords. Free AV programs, do not however, offer less protection to actual malware.

So, in that final parameter, your needs, results, and outcomes, may vary.

dikbozo said:

Nope, there is none of it.

SumatraPDF for PDF, Office 2003, and other small program that I use daily none of them are bloated.

The closest thing to bloted software that I use perhaps WMP12 and that because I can't find the matching equaliser setting for foobar so I'll stick with WMP.

Foobar 2000 has had an equalizer since I can remember which is somewhere around the beginning ( somewhere 2003 seems right) as I was PO'd at Winamp. The current build has a nice 18 band graphic EQ accessible under the 'View' menu. Another audio only application you might want to try is AIMP. This looks and feels a lot like Winamp but beats it all respects.

As the subject is bloat, Foobar 2000 uses just under 13MB in my installation. AIMP uses more at 74 MB but I have added a half dozen skins to it.

dikbozo said:

I find some of the comments here misdirected. My Steam folder is mostly filled with games not Steam itself. A base install of Steam is a couple of megabytes, where is the bloat there? The constant updating gets to be annoying but that is the price to be paid for what amounts to a free service. A plain vanilla install of Firefox or Chrome runs under 25MB. The addons and plugins and scripts and themes and skins and etc all become the bloat. These are the things that slow them down. I regularly prune out things I am not using in these applications. YMMV.

As to Flash being bloated? WTF? It is somewhat poorly coded in that it tends to be slow or buggy but how does something 6 MB be described as bloated in today's multi TB world? Its main feature, which is to enable video and audio playback in an interactive way is actually pretty well implemented for such a small installation. I do wish there was an open source alternative to it as I don't really trust Adobe. I use Flash mostly because I have to. I also use Flash Block as a control over it. This cuts down on loading Flash from anywhere and allows you the user, to deicde when and/or if to run it. I so rarely see Flash ads, in concert with Ad Block Plus that I see a different web, period. Flash has its place as do CSS, LAMP, SOAP, push and other technologies.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I'm a total "clean-nik" on my computer running Ccleaner and monitoring my installed programs regularly. Along with others, iTunes and Flash Player are the two bloatware that I just have to deal with because of the options they provide. Flash Player is not that big of a deal, but iTunes drives me insane - whenever you install that you get 10 other Apple programs along with it.

1 person liked this | m4a4 m4a4 said:

Just yank "Bit Defender" and reinstall the free version of "Avast". If you're that unhappy with Bit Defender, waiting to buy a new PC sounds well, a tad silly.

The thing is, I was talking about buying the full Avast package again. I never used its free version. That's why I said I'd buy it again for the new PC.

On top of captaincranky, I (and everyone else in my household) have been using the free Avast for many years and have never been infected with a virus. Just because it's free doesn't mean it doesn't work...

But at the end of the day it all depends on what you are doing that you need protection from.......

stonarda said:

Phones rooted, all the useless stuff on that's gone! My computer.. well? Nothing starts automatically that isn't needed and I am realy careful what I instal!!

Acespaces Acespaces said:

It comes down to 3 main things:

Java

Adobe

Origin

(has anyone thought of the idea of joining java and adobe some how?)

Guest said:

Instead of adobe reader, why not just switch to Foxit PDF reader.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Instead of adobe reader, why not just switch to Foxit PDF reader.
Because the latest version has a bunch of BS and adware in it, that you are unable to opt out of.

Once upon a time you would have been right, and I indeed do have an older version on one of my machines.

I have been told their policies toward the free version have changed, as a result, I've been avoiding it. I encourage to you investigate the veracity of this issue on your own...

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

I can't get Itunes to work any longer even after multiple updates, uninstalling, reinstalling and nothing so its no more. I haven't used IE in many years, its been all Firefox and thunderbird for me.

I have had some luck in situations with programs not working or not uninstalling properly. Revo Uninstaller's trial will help you remove left behind contents in the registry and system file directories. Try installing it, then uninstall it with Revo Uninstaller and search for any traces left behind.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Origin

Go.To.Hell.

Saw a few people say Steam. Steam is like from the Gods, if you've ever had to use Origin.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

With today's software, wouldn't it be easier just to identify what isn't bloated? For that, DVDshrink and ImgBurn are all that come to mind.

Everything else just gets worse with every new release.

With mobile OSes, the bloat seems to be in the amount of stupid "Crapps" that you're expected to install. An app to get the weather from each TV channel in the area. A Starbucks app, iTunes....ad naseum.

Something that really pissed me off, is Amazon now forces you install proprietary applications, (sort of like iTunes), before they'll let you buy MP3s. And of course, that s*** is set to run on startup....

Wait, maybe that's the "Instant video". Ah who cares, same company different sort of the same nonsense.

I think if you choose the digital download they make you use the Amazon MP3 downloader, but I'm pretty sure this is just to download the album, you can then take it and use whatever to manage the files. If my memory server me any...

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Saw a few people say Steam. Steam is like from the Gods, if you've ever had to use Origin.
I have had 0 experience and from all the comments, I think I can safely deduct I don't want any.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I think if you choose the digital download they make you use the Amazon MP3 downloader, but I'm pretty sure this is just to download the album, you can then take it and use whatever to manage the files. If my memory server me any...
No, I don't have an issue with handling MP3 files after they're downloaded. You can copy, move, and play them on any device you choose, that's not the issue.

You used to be able to buy MP3s outright without installing anything! Just click "buy" and you were done.

The "Amazon Instant Video" product, is a whole nuther issue. That's limited to two devices, is loaded with DRM, and you need proprietary player software installed to run it. Bah humbug, it's way more aggravation than it's worth. (Well with the disclaimer, "IMHO" anyway).

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

Besides the bloatware that can't be removed, I delete everything with a complete system restore the second I get a new computer. For androids, I'll usually deal with it until I feel like risking a root. Then I'll delete everything.

Tawhid Tawhid said:

I have to admit "windows 7"...:P... next thing in mind would be sketch up 7 (not any skup version)....avast free edition cant think about any other av... autocad... 3ds max....adobe ps.... and off-course vlc player....after using winamp on my android thinking about ditching I tunes and restart using good old winamp, "Winamp, it really whips the llama's ass!"....

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