IT Employment

New software doesn't always mean better software

New software releases are supposed to make things better. Often, things just get worse. Check out what to do about software bloat and take the poll to see which software has suffered the most from release to release.

When a software company releases a new version of a product, in theory, the product is supposed to improve. Ideally, the software becomes faster, is easier to use, and maybe includes a few features that make it more useful along the way.

More often than not, what happens is that a once useful program becomes a bloated mess. Rather than fixing old bugs, the new version adds bugs and leaves ones that were from a previous version unaddressed. The new version runs more slowly, takes more resources, and occasionally changes the interface, making it impossible to remember where common commands are stored.

Plus, there's always the issue with feature creep. In order to justify charging for a new feature, a vendor will add in all sorts of new features, the vast majority of which will never be used by anyone. But they look really good on the press release and in the product spec sheet if nothing else.

Going backward

In many cases you can avoid the hassles by not upgrading altogether. If you've made the mistake of doing an upgrade, you can always try uninstalling the old version and reinstalling a previous version.  This, of course, is usually only useful when you have the original CDs.

In the cases where you've downloaded the software, the complications increase. Many times when a vendor revs software that's available only for download, they'll take the previous version off their Web site. Unless you still have the original installation program, you're out of luck.

For such a situation, you might try Oldversion.com. This site serves as a repository for previous versions of many software packages like Reader, RealPlayer, AIM, and others. It's a pretty good place to start when you want to downgrade to a previous version.

Remember, however, that downgrading to a previous version can cause problems of its own. Along with all the other junk that can be introduced into new versions, security patches may be added as well. By downgrading to an old version, you may be opening yourself up to these now-unpatched vulnerabilities. So, way the costs and benefits before downgrading.

What software has bloated the worst?

It's hard to tell what software has suffered the most from version bloat. I thought I'd run a quick poll and see what you had to say. I was tempted to add "Anything from Microsoft" to the poll, but, as always, I'm going to keep that out to keep from skewing the results.

Pick your selection for the software that's suffered the most from each new version:

14 comments
RJenvey
RJenvey

This will be a familiar problem to users of Solidworks

tinyang73
tinyang73

If Vista was on the list, I would have voted for that! But I think it's a toss up between Quicktime and Acrobat reader between the items that were listed.

damojag
damojag

I know Acrobat has some sort of a medieval plague and I've never trusted Norton, but my gripe is with Quicktime. Recently it has slowed down my system - when viewed in a thumbnail folder view it takes forever to show the thumbnail and gives us that lovely "not responding" message. Also whenever Quicktime is updated (why oh why does it need updating) it adds its little Quicky-timey icon on my QuickLaunch, I'm running AstonShell and this screws up my lovely interface. I don't have anything saved on my desktop but of course "The Quick" adds an icon there too. I don't like it, I didn't ask for it and I wish to give Mr. Jobs a serious talking to...grrr

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

Not only is it bloated, but it doesn't work right most of the time, unless you count the screensaver.

lastchip
lastchip

Windows!! It fits most of the criteria: bloated mess, bugs, runs more slowly than the last version, takes more resources, interface changes, and marketing says it's the best thing since sliced bread! I don't know about skewing the results, It's the perfect fit as far as I can see.

spdragoo
spdragoo

That's why I've held onto my Paint Shop Pro version 4 for so long. It handles anything I really want to do when working with images, & takes up a lot less space.

jross
jross

When you're talking program bloat...the winner in my book has to be AutoCAD 2009.

zclayton2
zclayton2

If you are artificially limiting the results by eliminating the most bloated software because it might "skew" the results, you might want to consider that that is not a skew - it reflects reality. miKro$loth products are the most bloated.

billcooey
billcooey

It took me 5 minutes to try and find this article from the email that TR sends out. The information is valuable, but if I cant consistantly and successfully click on the link in the email (from various browsers, computers, and email programs) I have no use for it. I am getting zero help from TR to remedy this. I will be unsubscribing from all of TR.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

As I pointed out in Classics Rock, http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/classic-tech/?p=138 it seems like more often than not when a company releases a new version of a decent piece of software, they just ruin it. Naturally, the upgrades are intended to foster user loyalty and drive the bottom line. They often miss the mark completely however. Who's been the worst offender when it comes to repeatedly creating bad upgrades? The easy answer is Microsoft, but who else?

mikebyford
mikebyford

The most bloated and regressive software development group must be Corel anything as any good software they buy is immediately bloated, made slower and consumes more RAM and CPU than ever before. The worst is Paintshop X2 - the origunal JASC paintshop pro was excellent.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Naturally if I had put Microsoft on the list (or any of the other lists) it would have 'won' hands down. It's not very illustrative because everyone knows that Microsoft products have a reputation of using every last drop of resources and then some. However, Microsoft is far from the only, or even the worst, sinner in this regards. I just didnt think piling on helped much.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

it's become such a pig that I won't use it anymore. Used to swear by it, oh 5 years ago or so. Each new release has just slowed down my machines. Using Avast! these days and pretty happy with it.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

but symantec products on the enterprise level are pretty good. I've had no complaints other than the occasional bug that specifically targets enterprise level symantec...but that happens ith other high end products like that, as well. Symantec usually has a fix in under 12 hours even if it does happen.

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