There was a time when Nero wasn't an overblown pig of a recording application, but over the years it's been "improved" to the glorious state of excess you see it in today. What sucks about Nero today? Well, let's see. First, it tries to install the Ask toolbar during setup. Then there's the hundreds of megs of DVD templates it piles on (none of them particularly attractive). Last but not least, there's Nero Scout. Has anyone ever found this useful? I don't know about you, but click and drag or browsing for files has always worked just fine for me.
The Alternative: CD Burner XP
I want burning software to burn discs, not transcode video, play media, serve it over my home lan, print labels, and scour my drives constantly for files I may want to burn. Not only is CD Burner XP free, it's also miniscule when compared to Nero, installs in seconds, not minutes, and doesn't bring any excess crap along with it. Launch it, and you're given clear choices: data, music, iso, copy, erase. The dual pane view makes creating compilations drag-and-drop easy, as does the totally slick dropbox.
The PDF is a great idea: a platform independent document that's immune to the usual formatting issues. Again, ages ago Acrobat Reader was a fine choice. Things were obviously spiraling out of control when Adobe introduced the Speed Launch in attempt to help this slug of an app launch slightly faster. Soon the installer started trying to cram a toolbar down your throat (I see a pattern here....) and things just keep getting worse.
The Alternative: Foxit PDF Reader
I'd wager that you can open and close Foxit about half a dozen times before Reader finishes launching once. It's 92% smaller and still manages to render PDFs very accurately. What more can you say? A PDF reader should, well, read PDFs. It doesn't need to do any other fancy crap.
Believe it or not, there are still a ton of people using WinZip. During the install, I noticed winzip112.msi extracting, so I decided to investigate. I mean, why not just let users download only the 6.5mb .msi? Well, because they're trying to sneak Uniblue Registry Booster and the Google Desktop and Toolbar past you. Nice. Winzip's main window consumes 11mb of memory whilst doing nothing. doesn't support .7z archives, and costs $29.95 to register after a 45-day trial. Oh wait - you can get the full version free if you complete a TrialPay offer. Gee, thanks!
The Alternative: 7-Zip
While it stands to reason that 7-Zip supports .7z files (hell, it'll even unpack DEB and RPM packages), there are plenty of reasons to dump WinZip for it. The .msi is 1.1mb, it consumes less than 20% the drive space of WinZip after installation, and it's totally free. It even does a slightly better job at re-packing the WinZip installer files than WinZip does.
Why anyone would ever want to install this piece of trash torrent manager is totally beyond me, yet 65 million Cnet users (I hear your snickering) have done just that. It's a 6mb download, doubles in size after install, eats 26mb of memory when running even when it's idle, tries to change your homepage, and it pops up more alerts windows than most antivirus apps. The interface as more cluttered with junk than Fred Sanford's back yard. BitComet is so evil, Satan actually forces people in Hell to use it.
The Alternative: uTorrent
If you're already using it, thank you for raising the average level of torrent user intelligence. If you're not, here's why you should be: it's a 214kb download (about 4% the size of BitComet), expands to about 300kb when installed with the webUI, and uses only 6mb of memory when idle. uTorrent will download just as fast as BitComet (if not faster, in my experience), it's interface is neat and clean, and the webUI lets you control your torrents from anywhere.
I can hear the Apple fanbois cringe, but here we go! I'm not sure how many of you wanted a horrible codec like Quicktime, a Mozilla remix like Safari, and a..er...life synching(?) tool like MobileMe to come packaged with your media manager, but I didn't. I wanted a program that would take my songs, pics, and whatnot and dump them on to my player. iTunes is a behemoth, and the fact that Apple has no qualms about cramming any half-baked app they dream up into its installer irritates me to no end.
The Alternative: EphPod
EphPod is 3.6mb and it's just EphPod. You won't have to dodge any unwanted installers, and it can handle pretty much any iPod chore: syncing, firmware updates, calendar, contact, news, and weather updates. EphPod is easy on resources and boasts a clean, straightforward interface. You don't have to worry about setting the manual updates option. No, it doesn't handle video files, but I don't care, because I don't want to watch a movie on a screen the size of a Ritz cracker.
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