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PC World's 20 Most Annoying Tech Products 349

Craig Sender writes to tell us that PC World has compiled a list of the 20 most annoying tech products of all time. Topping the list was AOL's ubiquitous free trial CD's. "This list hardly covers every annoying tech product ever made. But where did this list of 20 come from? [PC World Readers] picked the worst ones by voting in our Annoyances Poll, and you'll see your Top 10 most annoying products flagged with icons. Just for fun, we've added 10 more products that didn't get enough votes from you in our poll but that we found particularly irksome."
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PC World's 20 Most Annoying Tech Products

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  • I predict a cavalcade of Microsoft "jokes." God bless Slashdot.
    • MS Office (Score:3, Insightful)

      by G4from128k ( 686170 )
      Although the article cited Office 97 as an "also ran" annoyance, I'd have to cite the entire suite in all its incarnations as one of the worst annoyances in my daily life. I have so many reasons for my conclusion, that I'm sure I could exceed the character limit of a /. post. But the top reasons for giving Office a Supreme Annoyance Lifetime Achievement Award include:

      1. UI inconsistencies across the suite and even within products.
      2. Bugs that have survived at least 7 years and 3 upgrades (upgrade = anot
  • by EggMan2000 ( 308859 ) * on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:04PM (#18756225) Homepage Journal
    No reference to the Cue Cat?

    That was one of the most annoying, dumbest, biggest debacles I can remember. For those that do not recall the Cue Cat [] was a bar cade reader in the form of a cat, that clever marketeers thought consumers would use by scanning barcodes on print ads in magazines and newspapers.

    Cue Cat was mailed to *all* Wired magazine [] subscribers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by stratjakt ( 596332 )
      Radio Shack gave me one for free, and I had some fun hacking code for it to be able to organize my CD collection with a free handheld scanner.

      I don't know how they define "annoying". Someone gave me a free gizmo, I don't know why that should annoy me.
    • by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:10PM (#18756405) Homepage Journal
      There are a lot of really stupid ideas out there that I wouldn't put on a "most annoying" list because no one used them.

      The Cue Cat is one of them. No one forced you to use it. The bar codes on the ads didn't cause leprosy or make your eyes bleed.

      Of course, if I was one of the investors who paid to send out thousands of the things for free, then I'd have cause to be annoyed.

      I'd put Microsoft Bob on the list too. The ads and promotions were annoying, but again, no one forced you to install or use it.
    • by amrust ( 686727 )
      Wow, I can't believe I forgot about this thing. I still have mine somewhere. It was interesting to play with for about 10 minutes. That's about when the average person realized: "Hey, they're probably tracking my scans in some big mail marketing database!".
  • Again? (Score:5, Funny)

    by pclminion ( 145572 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:11PM (#18756455)
    I've got a better idea for an article: "Slashdot's 20 most annoying duplicate articles."
  • Lotus Notes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by alexj33 ( 968322 )
    Where's Lotus Notes??? Should be in the top 5. Horrible, horrible, non-intuitive mass of confusion.

    Everything a UI shouldn't be.
    • Lotus notes has got nothing on the toy car my two year old son has. It plays Wiggles songs when he pushes it around. It's almost as bad as the little iron that makes stupid sound effects when he pushes it around or the doll that plays twinkle twinkle little star when he sqeezes it's belly. He has a toy aeroplane that sings a song so annoying that even he couldn't stand it and asked me in whimpery toddler speak to remove the batteries.

      Whenever I see these stupid lists on /. and then read all the "Tech produ

  • aol cds (Score:3, Funny)

    by mastershake_phd ( 1050150 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:12PM (#18756469) Homepage
    #1 AOL CDs. I used to work at the post office, they some people decorated entire walls with undeliverable AOL CDs.
    • by Harmonious Botch ( 921977 ) * on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:16PM (#18756597) Homepage Journal
      Before CDs, AOL used to send floppies. I liked that. It was the backup-disk-of-the-month-club for me. I didn't have to remember, I didn't have to buy a floppy; it just arrived every month so I could backup.
      • AOL sends free DVD keepcases these days to hold their free microwaveable coasters, which is a pretty nice thing for them to do.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        On a similar note I used to do unimportant volunteer stuff at a public radio station. Radio stations used to do a lot with reels of tape (probably still do) and any current affairs shows or other pre-recorded stuff would be dub edited from various sources to the final tape. Every month Radio Moscow would send out a nice big reel with the last months worth of english language stuff - the station loved it - it went straight to the bulk tape eraser and then into the newsroom where they could never get enough
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Free Software copies the proprietary world sometimes, but it always improves the user experience.
      Take the aol CDs, you now have Ubuntu CDs which always come with an ubuntu user.
      It wasnt bad enough to have all those CDs, you now have to listen for hours how all distros suck and Ubuntu is just ... you know... so good ... so better ... because it's ... you know ... you see ... Ubuntu, dude.
    • Any one else remember the guys in Harry the Handsome Executive who just sat there frisbee-tossing AOL free trial disks?
  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:13PM (#18756493) Homepage
    is the MOST annoying thing I have ever seen.

    The thing that really gets me, is that when you click the "Kill the dog" option, instead of instantly vanishing, like any reasonably annoyance, they have this obnoxious beast do a little animation.

    Look, you clueless fools, if I like the dog, I would not be getting rid of him. You KNOW I don't want him, but you senselessly subject me to the EXACT kind of animation that I told you I disliked.

    What's next? If I tell you to turn off the sound, will you up the volume to maximum and play a recording of "SHUTTING SOUND OFF NOW!" in a really whiny voice?

    • by Tx ( 96709 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:20PM (#18756673) Journal

      What's next? If I tell you to turn off the sound, will you up the volume to maximum and play a recording of "SHUTTING SOUND OFF NOW!" in a really whiny voice?

      For the love of god, stop putting ideas in their heads!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by rrohbeck ( 944847 )

        What's next? If I tell you to turn off the sound, will you up the volume to maximum and play a recording of "SHUTTING SOUND OFF NOW!" in a really whiny voice?
        It'll crank up the volume and say "An application is trying to mute the audio output, Cancel or Allow?"
    • What's next? If I tell you to turn off the sound, will you up the volume to maximum and play a recording of "SHUTTING SOUND OFF NOW!" in a really whiny voice?

      Cell phone manufacturers beat them to it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by grrrl ( 110084 )

        What's next? If I tell you to turn off the sound, will you up the volume to maximum and play a recording of "SHUTTING SOUND OFF NOW!" in a really whiny voice?

        Cell phone manufacturers beat them to it.
        You're right! How come my phone (v3) has to beep so damn loudly everytime I turn silent-mode on or off?
    • by thewils ( 463314 )
      I agree about the dog to some extent, but far more annoying for me is when you are shutting down windows and you get the little dialog boxes coming up with "Ending so-and-so" task. It gives you the option, with a nice little button to "End immediately".

      So, like, I'm trying to shut down here. Why are you showing me all these dialogs so that I can shut down faster. If you can shut faster yourself, why not do it without me having to sit and monitor the sodding thing for christ's sake?

      At least with the dog you
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I don't know about you, I'd rather the tasks end themselves rather than windows kill9'ing them and losing all their unsaved data. But maybe that's just me.

    • by MrNiceguy_KS ( 800771 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @06:28PM (#18758275)
      AMEN!! Preach it, Brother!

      I recently discovered another reason to hate the dog. I had recently started a new job, and hadn't gotten around to all the standard tweaks required to make a new Windows install usable. I had done a search and had kept the search box open behind some other windows while working on other things. For the next couple of days I was trying to figure out why my hard drive or CDROM was making two short but loud seeks every once in awhile.

      Eventually I realized that the freaking dog was scratching himself. Drove me crazy for several days trying to figure out what the noise was, and it turns out to be Microsoft trying to be cute.

  • by L. VeGas ( 580015 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:14PM (#18756533) Homepage Journal
    In terms of pure annoyance, not just bad or lousy tech, I would rate CD burners before they were reliable and "click-of-death" zip disks as some of the most exasperating things that I have had to deal with.

    I must have wasted dozens of hours with 1x and 2x CD burners before they became mature. I can still remember staring at the little progress bar.

    95% completed -- 96% completed -- 97% completed -- 98% completed -- FAILURE BUFFER UNDERRUN.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Ah, yes. Iomega Jazz drives.

      I remember them.

      I remember multiple head crashes. Data forever lost because I was dumb enough to use them as my primary data drive.

      I also remember the sound of plastic and metal shattering when the disk was thrown against a brick wall across the room when it couldn't be read.

      Those were the days.

      Please excuse me while I go get a drink...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Divebus ( 860563 )
        Jaz drives developed some nice options - you could lose 1GB of data all at once, or 2GB of data all at once with the newer drives.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by pete-classic ( 75983 )
      I used to work for Dell major accounts desktop support. One of the best laughs I've ever had was when someone called in from IOmega for a replacement Zip drive. "The one I have just goes click, click, click."

      I was very grateful for the mute button that day.

  • Biased list (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:15PM (#18756553) Homepage Journal
    Too much emphasis on software, not enough on hardware, and non-computer items.

    Also too much emphasis on marketing flops.

    I am SO glad that floppy disks are just about finished with. I threw away hundreds and hundreds of them last year (3.5") and two years ago (5.25"). They still pop up now and then. I hope to eliminate all of them except for emergency boot CDs and the like.

    • by eln ( 21727 )
      This is not so much a "most annoying of all time" list as a list of "what people liked to bitch about the most on the Internet during the dot-com boom." The oldest product listed is the AOL CD started in 1993. Most of them have dates later than 1997.
    • Re:Biased list (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ex-geek ( 847495 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:57PM (#18757643)
      Yeah. The list isn't well researched. Vista is on the list? I haven't tried it yet, but I doubt that it could top need to shuffle AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS entries on a per application basis. Realplayer is on the list? How could Realplayer possibly compete with Netscape 4.x in terms of annoyance? And what about some of the truly bizzaro UI experiences us Linux users had to endure in the late 90ies? I still get flashbacks from those.
    • and there's a good reason for that.

      This has got to be the first Windows centric article I've enjoyed. That is said as someone who remembers the transition of Byte from a computer magazine to a Windoze product review. In other words, Windows centric articles have bothered me from the very beginning.

    • How can a list of "most annoying tech products" NOT INCLUDE THE CELL PHONE? #1 by far!!!

      With the exception of the AOL CD, how many people have ever been "annoyed" by one of the products on this list? It can't possibly compare to the number of people who have been annoyed by a F#*&^%$ cell phone going off in the middle of a class, meeting, or performance event. Not to mention the annoyance of having to listen to 1/2 of an angry or animated conversation. At least the AOL CDs made good coasters, or cou
  • How about.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:17PM (#18756623) Journal
    those 'Read more' links on /. that don't work when you click on them in Firefox? Or better still, the 'automated' phone menu systems that force you to 'press 1' or 'press 2' a squillion times before giving up and hitting a random number to get speaking to some human being somewhere.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jaiyen ( 821972 )
      I'd take links that don't work over PDF links anyday. You know, that sinking feeling when you just realised the link you clicked is not to another HTML page but to a 4MB PDF file, which then causes the browser to freeze and choke up trying to open it, and you can lose whatever is was you had in other tabs or windows when it crashes. Adobe Acrobat Reader has surely got to be one of the most annoying tech products for this reason alone - who ever thought making PDFs open in the browser was a good idea anyway?
      • by nra1871 ( 836627 )
        I used to feel that way on Windows with Acrobat 7, but I've been quite pleased with 8. It's a vast improvement in speed. I never have a problem with it in Firefox anymore.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chinton ( 151403 )
      More annoying are the automated phone systems that make you talk to them.
      • They can't ever understand me anyway.

        "Please spell you street name"


        "You said B-L-C-A-T-E-R. Is that correct?"

  • Bah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mockylock ( 1087585 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:18PM (#18756629) Homepage
    That list is all Jacked up. Considering the Zune has been out for what, 6 months and it's ranked higher than the Apple Pro Mouse? That thing was beyond annoying. Where are "Jazz" drives on this list? They crashed every month and were garbage. Tape drives aren't on there either! I'm guessing he and his buddies got together and made up the list. I don't argue with most of them, but a product that's been out for 6 months is rated up with Windows ME? I just don't consider some of those "ALL time" annoyances, rather than "recent and minor" annoyances. Just because they're happening now, doesn't mean they're worth being in the all time annoyances.
    • Re:Bah... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:35PM (#18757113) Homepage Journal
      The Apple Pro Mouse was the good one: optical sensing plus a beautiful design. The bad one was the previous Apple 'hockey puck' mouse, it's circular design meant you have to look away from the screen to see which way it was facing, and the mechanical ball rollers were a pain to clean. The majoy *annoyance* was however, not then mouse itself, but PC users crowing on about the 'one button' design, ignoring the fact that Mac Software was (surprisingly enough) designed for 1 button mice, and 103 more buttons were available on a nearby keyboard when required.
      • I look on my now crippled mouse hand with pride, all those fond memories will be with me forever. Of course, my baseball career is over, ditto with curling, pool, in fact I usually just cover the mangled stump with a black glove.
      • by Draconix ( 653959 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @06:12PM (#18757949)
        The 1-button mouse was to keep developers from relying on extra buttons, thus adding to the probable confusion of the end-user. Unfortunately, a vast number of ports never bothered adjusting for that, so eventually Apple caved in and started bundling multi-button mice (and probably because of Boot Camp as well) which are wonderful in theory, and freaking annoying in practice. My Mac Pro came with a Mighty Mouse. The scroll ball is really neat, but the fact that if you hold your mouse like an artist tends to (only using your fingers instead of laying your entire hand on it) it tends to interpret left-clicks as right-clicks.

        As for the puck mouse the original one sucked, but the one that came with the G4 was awesome. If someone made a multi-button version of it with a scroll wheel, it would be my favorite mouse. I had no trouble at all using it back in the day, as it had the dimple on the button so you could actually tell which end was the front, and it was a lot easier for me to work with due to its small size and light weight. I seem to be the exception to the rule, though; I also prefer modern Apple keyboards to the IBM Model M.
    • They showed a picture of the Zune, but the item was about DRM which they called "iTunes". Come on, the DRM for iTunes is called "Fair Play" - get it right!
  • Article on one page (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:19PM (#18756667)
  • i couldn't resist the chance at an M$ joke and movie quote all rolled into one!
  • by tdelaney ( 458893 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:21PM (#18756717)
    The "print" version puts grey bars at either side of the article to ensure that the contents are wider than your window (I didn't check what mechanism they used).

    You can manually position the page so that all the content is visible, but then the text is hard against the edge of the window.

    Nice trick to annoy people into reading through the ad-filled multipage version.
    • You have sites that make the print window annoyingly small...such as

      I suppose the most sneaky pop the print window open to try to tick you into printing the page without being able to read at all.

    • Quick version:
      1. AOL CDs
      2. Windows Me
      3. Anything With DRM
      4. McAfee Internet Security, Symantec Norton Internet Security
      5. RealPlayer
      6. Bonzi Buddy
      7. MySpace
      8. Windows Update
      9. Windows Vista
      10. Apple QuickTime

      Pretty good list, if you ask me. Fair too-- doesn't seem biased towards anything in parti
    • Ctl+A, Ctl+C, Ctl+Space for quicksilver, Tex, ctl+V

      Naturally the quicksilver bit could be some other OS's launcher for notepad/textpad/vi/whatever. (but not emacs because that would be inefficient)

  • The top ten list (Score:4, Informative)

    by MECC ( 8478 ) * on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:24PM (#18756799)
    The top ten "short list" can be seen here. []

    Less annoying, and you can vote there as well.

  • by shawn443 ( 882648 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:26PM (#18756837) Homepage
    I could have one icon on the desktop that I click 50 times a day and that so called wizard will still tell me I have unused desktop icons. Even better, when Sally Secretary actually runs this fantastically annoying tool, she calls me ten minutes later to tell me Excel is gone.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Display Properties->Desktop->Customize Desktop

      Uncheck "Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days"

      Most people here probably already know this, but this is for those who don't.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bughunter ( 10093 )
        Awesome! Thank you!

        Now if someone can inform me how to permanently kill that accursed "Windows Update Has Installed Updates" "Restart Now?" "Restart Later?" dialog that pops up every 2 minutes until you actually restart. I don't mind restarting for automatic updates, but jeez, just tell me ONCE willya??

        This repetative reminder is highly annoying and infuriatingly distracting when you're in the middle of a 2-hour presentation, or are using the PC to run custom test hardware in the lab and cannot just s

  • the PC World website
  • My favorite (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DonkeySpew ( 683848 )
    Require us to retype squiggly letters that are virtually impossible for humans to decipher when signing up for new accounts. (Note to Microsoft: This means you.)

    These stupid things get me every time. It usually takes me at least 3 tries and I think Yahoo's are the worst.

    • They really aren't that stupid. It's really tough to strike a balance between "human can read it on the first try" and "computer program written by 8-year-old can't read it". I wouldn't open a website up to the public today without a CAPTCHA though.
  • by edwardpickman ( 965122 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:33PM (#18757071)
    I still get the shakes when I see a paper clip. Also for some reason the name "Bob" makes my hair stand up on end.
  • by kuwan ( 443684 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:36PM (#18757123) Homepage
    That'd be my number one annoyance these days. The actual content of the article only takes up about one-third of the page and then they break it into 7 pages so you are bombarded with annoying adds and clutter. The other two-thirds of each page is full of adds and cluttered up links to other parts of their site. Their site is just as annoying as any of the 20 products they profile.

    How about a nice clean layout that lets you actually read the article and not be distracted?
    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      The irony continues because the one of the also rans was for Flash. All the ads I saw were in flash. I don't have flash enabled, therefore the web server got all the extra hits, but never loaded an ad. Obviously the magazine cannot take it's own advice. One wonders why one would trust a magazine that recommends one thing and then does the exact opposite. It is like the stock tips mags. If you stock tips are so good, why don't you make your money by investing rather than selling a magazine. It would se
  • by GodWasAnAlien ( 206300 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:41PM (#18757265)
    i vote for the "feature" of touch pads that emulates a click with every inadvertent touch.
    oops (f*ck), my cusor moved to some random place mid-sentence,
    oops i selected and deleted a section of text.
    oops, i clicked on something.

    addesso touchpad-keyboards suck because you cant turn this shit off.

    let's just say that doing taxes online with an adessa touchpad-keyboard is a bad idea.
    • What kind of computer do you have where you can't turn this off?? Seriously that sucks. I only use the Mac and you have been able to turn that off on the Mac since tap clicking became a feature.
  • Caps lock key (Score:3, Insightful)

    by contrapunctus ( 907549 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:43PM (#18757299)
    I think the caps lock key is one.
    It takes valuable space on the keyboard and rarely gets used.
    I like the old control key there instead.

      dammit, i also get the lameness filter . . . why doesn't it stop people when they post in all lower case????

  • by rev_sanchez ( 691443 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @05:48PM (#18757447)

    So if you buy a WMA file from a service that uses Microsoft's PlaysForSure DRM (most notably Napster), it won't work with the Zune (which uses Microsoft's Zune DRM).
    A thing called PlaysForSure which will not play on something produced by the company that produces both things sounds like what Douglas Adams would write about DRM if he were still around.
  • What, no Virtual Boy???
  • iTunes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Y-Crate ( 540566 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @06:20PM (#18758125)
    Bemoaning the fact iTunes requires Quicktime to be installed ignores the fact iTunes is nothing but an XML front-end for Quicktime. It's a database and shopping app that offloads all of its media handling to the existing suite of software designed to handle such things.

    If they had created another software package to replicate the services provided by Quicktime just for iTunes people would be lining up to say how it exemplified a lack of faith in the established suite.
  • PC worlds should list themselves for all the ads they shove on every page on top of the (actually, behind the) pop up ads they force you to close to read the stupid article.
  • My vote goes to... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mvdw ( 613057 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @07:43PM (#18759535) Homepage
    Annoying pop-over ads. Like in the article. Irony, anyone?
  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @08:00PM (#18759805) Homepage Journal
    pop-up ads. Heck include pop-under ads too please. Why didn't they consider this? Given consideration, I bet it would beat out AOL hands-down. If you really want to go that route including things like antivirus software, why not just include a Viruses and a Spyware category? Maybe viruses wouldn't get a ton of votes but spyware? rock the charts.
  • #21 (Score:4, Funny)

    by wbren ( 682133 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @08:26PM (#18760185) Homepage
    #21: Those annoying PC World ads that pop up whenever you visit their articles.
  • Spam (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Coolhand2120 ( 1001761 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @08:32PM (#18760259)
    Uh, hello? Spam? Anyone, Bueller? Spam is by far the most f*#cking annoying and should be high atop the list.
  • by acvh ( 120205 ) <geek@m s c i g a r> on Monday April 16, 2007 @09:54PM (#18761451) Homepage
    i thought that was pretty funny...
  • by TractorBarry ( 788340 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @09:00AM (#18765991) Homepage
    Slightly off topic as it's not confined to a single product but....

    My absolute pet hate are the utter fools that produce code where you close their app and it pops up a dialogue that asks "Are you sure you want to exit ?". Durghhh...

    There is absolutely no excuse for this brain dead crap. Of course I'm bloody well sure I want to close your app that's why I clicked thhe close button/the Exit menu item/closed the window etc. etc.

    The only reason an app should confirm closure is when there is unsaved data that the user might like to save. There is no other reason to prompt me. I've just effing done something to dismiss your app now be a good coder and tidy up and exit.

    Thankfully you do see a lot less of this these days but it's still being used. e.g. I installed Ubuntu Fesity this week, ran Automatix, closed the program and here it comes again. Shame really as Automatix is otherwise top notch (as is Feisty) !

    Ho hum... different decade, samme crappy coding.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.