The 10 most hated programs of all time

Don't worry Apple fans, iTunes for Mac isn't in here at least...

Programs can be our friends: they can help us express ourselves, can solve our problems and can do their very best to make our days happier.

Sometimes, though, they do the Devil's work, making simple tasks so complex and frustrating that you'd happily make everybody involved face a firing squad.

So which programs made everyone angry? Let's discover the software Hall of Shame.

1. Final Cut Pro X

Apple's movie editing software isn't a bad program, but this release turned even the most mild-mannered editor into an incandescent ball of sheer fury. It was sold as an upgrade, but it was really a brand new, version 1.0 product - and that means it didn't have all the features or compatibility that existing users expected, wanted or relied upon.

Final cut pro x

Final cut x isn't a bad program - far from it - but expert users mourned missing features

2. Adobe Reader

Everybody needs to open a PDF from time to time, but Adobe Reader is a sledgehammer sold as a nutcracker: it's enormous - on the Mac, the current version is 69.1MB - it keeps putting a shortcut on your desktop for no good reason, and once you've installed it seems to spend most of its time moaning that you haven't paid it enough attention or installed yet another enormous update. No wonder Windows 8 plans to whack it with a shovel.

Adobe reader

GOING: OS X has its own PDF reader, and Windows 8 will do the same with the new Open Reader

3. Ask Toolbar

We're not fans of browser toolbars at the best of times, but the Ask Toolbar is a particularly poor one: it's been variously accused of installing itself without asking permission, making changes to users' browser settings and promoting itself to children. Many problems occurred because over-zealous software writers bundled the toolbar with their own applications but didn't ask whether or not you wanted it.

Ask toolbar

WHAT'S THAT JEEVES?: We don't like third party toolbars at the best of times, but the Ask one proved particularly unpopular

4. Lotus Notes

IT departments loved this popular messaging and collaboration system, but users were considerably less keen: in the mid-2000s the product was widely criticised for appearing to have been put together by somebody who really, really hated the entire human race and wanted to make it suffer. According to The Guardian, its popularity in business was partly because "the people who choose [business software] tend not to be the ones who use it."

Lotus notes

NOT OF NOTE: Lotus Notes still exists, but these days it's very different from its much-hated mid-2000s incarnation [Image credit: Koman90, Wikimedia Commons]

5. Norton Antivirus

Symantec's desktop antivirus software generated enormous ill will through its unfortunate habit of slowing your PC down to a crawl. Part of the problem was that the software tried to do too much: scanning every conceivable thing you do on PC requires significant resources at a time when PCs weren't the flying machines they are today. Thankfully, Norton has addressed such issues these days.

Norton antivirus

PROBLEMS, PROBLEMS: Happy Norton Man won't be smiling when his system slows down and he can't uninstall the program

6. Microsoft Word

Some people say "I hate Microsoft Word because it's far too complicated!" Some say "I hate Microsoft Word because it introduced Clippy the bloody Office Assistant!" A few say "I hate Microsoft Word because it's often used by idiots to make really horrible-looking things!" Others say, "I hate Microsoft Word because its HTML output made web designers' lives miserable for years!" Still others say "I hate Microsoft Word because I keep sending .docx files that only three people on Earth can actually read!" We say, people! Come together! Let's hate Microsoft Word for all of those reasons!


OFFICE PEST: Aaagh! Aaagh! Aaagh! Aaagh!

7. Adobe Flash

Despite its many benefits - in web design circles it's a powerful and useful creative tool - Flash can be enormously annoying. In many cases the problem was with its users, not the technology - you can't blame Adobe for irritating splash screens, badly designed ads or appalling user interfaces - but for many internet users, a Flash blocker is the first thing they install in a new browser.

Adobe flash

NOT JUST JOBS: Flash remains a powerful design tool, but in the wrong hands it can be a powerful force for evil

8. iTunes for Windows

Steve Jobs called iTunes for Windows "like giving a glass of ice water to someone in hell". The reality distortion field was strong that day, because rather than show Windows users the joys of Apple software, iTunes on Windows seems merely designed to depress them. As we've said previously, "the Windows version is a sluggish, resource-hungry mess. Apple has Windows users worldwide loving its iOS devices and despising iTunes, and this needs to change."

iTunes for windows

SLOOOOOOW: iTunes is proof that Apple doesn't always get it right. On Windows it's a donkey

9. Windows Me and Windows Vista

Yes, we know these are operating systems. This one's a joint nomination: Windows Me because it was a largely pointless update of Windows 98, and Windows Vista because it didn't work properly. Vista in particular should have been a great OS, but show-stopping bugs - copying a file could easily take four million years - and a lack of initial driver support turned a potential racehorse into a donkey.

Windows vista

WOW NOW: The wow starts... now! No... now! Now! NOW! Oh okay, let's just wait for Windows 7 then

10. Internet Explorer 6

Imagine a pristine swimming pool with crystal clear water. That's the internet. Now imagine an enormous poo floating past. That's IE6.

You know something's bad when even its creator dances on its grave. The problem wasn't the browser as such, which was fairly modern when it was released in 2001; it was Microsoft's refusal to update it significantly for years and years, breaking websites and leaving internet users vulnerable to all kinds of online unpleasantness. IE6 was Microsoft at its worst.


TERRIBLE: "Imagine an enormous poo... that's IE6". IE6 is officially pronounced "Aieeeeeee"


Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.