TurboTax 'Activation' annoys users

A new "product activation" system in many 2003 editions of Intuit Inc.'s TurboTax software has upset users of the popular tax-preparation program.

To prevent people from lending their TurboTax CD-ROM to others after they've filed their returns, Mountain View, Calif.-based Intuit added "SafeCast" software to lock each copy of TurboTax to one computer. Anyone trying to use that copy elsewhere will find that it runs only in "trial" mode, with printing and electronic filing disabled.

Participants in online discussion groups are bashing Intuit for sneaking "spyware" into its trusted program. A typical message at Amazon.com: "Avoid this software like the plague!"

Specific complaints center on the TurboTax installer not disclosing that it is adding SafeCast software on the side, and that the extra code isn't removed by TurboTax's uninstaller.

Michael Block, a certified public accountant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was so irritated, he recommended that his clients use other tax-preparation programs.

"I don't mind that they're trying to combat theft," Block said. "But we trust them with our income tax data, and they should've trusted us to tell us what this copy protection did."

News source: TechNews.com

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