Ever since the first installations of computers in offices, the way in which many of us have worked has changed dramatically and frequently with the help of IT support and services to ensure that the software we install helps boost our productivity and gives us more time to focus on the bigger picture.
There have been so many pieces of software that have helped in this regard, from improved word processors that can help people spot grammatical issues and places where they can improve, to spreadsheets that can do a lot of calculation work for us once set up.
However, for every productivity tool that helps us get more done, there are many others that have been somewhat less effective, either through being badly designed, insecure, slow or some combination of all three.
Here are some of the least effective productivity tools ever made.
A piece of software so useless that it led to a lawsuit, SoftRAM allegedly could “double” your amount of RAM, using a method that most users could replicate for free in just a few minutes by altering a few system settings
However, as a German computing journal would later find out, it didn’t even do that much and simply lied to the end user, which led to a Federal Trade Commission investigation, which led to recalls, lawsuits and a settlement that ultimately contributed to the developer filing for bankruptcy in 1998.
Released just a few months before Windows 95, Microsoft Bob was an earnest attempt to make computing less intimidating to a growing number of computer users, but as with many attempts at intuitive design, the execution left a lot to be desired.
The interactive helper icons proved to be more frustrating than they were helpful, the interface was slow, with its multiple rooms that needed to be moved between, and there was a question of whether it actually did anything of value.
Ultimately, with Windows 95 demonstrating how to effectively make an intuitive operating system, Microsoft Bob quickly became a joke, with its biggest features annoying Microsoft Office users for years afterwards.
When the internet was surging in popularity and the dotcom bubble was well and truly inflated, one of the biggest and most interesting trends was in “push technology”, which is where data is received by a client from a server without the client requesting it, such as notifications or RSS feeds.
The idea of a technology that allowed applications to tailor information and deliver it straight to you seemed appealing to users and developers alike, but PointCast Network caused far more damage than it helped.
The biggest issue was bandwidth; as the browser was constantly getting information from the server, it was clogging up network traffic with constant advertisements to the point that many offices and business internet providers outright banned the service.
This, alongside the rise of the online portal that offered the same types of service but without the constant network drain ended PointCast by early 2000, although push notifications have become the norm with RSS feeds, broadband internet and smartphones.