RealNetworks' multimedia-playback program -- once known as RealPlayer, then RealOne and now, with last week's release of a new version, RealPlayer once again -- is both widely used and widely despised. How so? The extensive use of RealAudio and RealVideo formats in online broadcasting makes the player software unavoidable, but the company's relentless use of it to sell unrelated services and features has made this program little better than spyware in many users' eyes.
In some ways, the new RealPlayer 10 is the worst of all of Real's releases -- after years of complaints about the same problems, the company made only token efforts to address them. And the program's major new feature, an online music store, is an appalling mess. The problems in RealPlayer start before you can even install it. (This is a beta-test release, available for Windows 98 (news - web sites) Second Edition and newer Microsoft operating systems, but since RealNetworks markets it as a finished product -- its home page neither mentions this test status nor offers earlier versions -- it's fair game for review.) Real continues to perplex users with "free" downloads that usually aren't.
News source: Yahoo News!