While we love technology, sometimes its purveyors make our blood boil. We're talking about annoying policies and practices, whether a new PC stuffed with junkware or how we have to switch providers just so we can get a better mobile phone.
We spoke to Apple, Intuit, Sony, Symantec and other offenders in a bid to find out just why these things happen, allthough we didn't always receive good answers (or in Apple's case any answer at all).
So here's our list of the most annoying tech practices, the reasons behind them and the best ways to work around them.
Software sunset policies
Major offenders: Intuit, Microsoft
For Quicken 2005 users, April 30 must have been an incredibly annoying day. That's when Intuit pulled the plug on that version of its money manager, in accordance with the company's discontinuation policy (also known as sunsetting).
Consequently, owners of that product can no longer use Intuit's online bill-pay services, download financial data from their banks, access Quicken.com investing features, get live technical support - shall we go on?
Sure, the software still functions, but with only a fraction of its former capabilities. Your sole recourse is to upgrade to a newer version with features you may not want, an interface you don't recognise, and other changes. On your wallet.
What gives? Why can't you keep using the software you already know, love, and paid for? To hear Intuit tell it, out with the old and in with the new.
"Retirement of online services and live support in older versions of Intuit desktop products allows Intuit to focus its resources on innovation and resources for current and new offerings," says company rep Jodi Reinman. Microsoft Money, which is Quicken's biggest competitor, sunsets even faster, after just two years, and a Microsoft spokesperson offered us a very similar explanation.
In plain English, it costs a company money to maintain and support older products - and of course, someone who is using one of those products isn't spending money on a new one. Sorry, but we can't sympathise. Just as Windows XP users want the option of keeping their OS instead of having to invest in Vista, finance-software users want more than two or three years' worth of functionality from their programs.
The fix: Unfortunately, you can't do much about sunset policies if you want to use the software. Web-based alternatives such as Mint.com, Mvelopes and Quicken Online aren't nearly as full-featured, and all but Mint.com charge monthly fees, so you're not much better off financially than you would be by upgrading every few years. In the meantime, if you're a Quicken 2008 user, mark your calendar for April 30, 2011- the likely discontinuation date for that version.
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