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December 15, 2004 12:01 AM

Broken: LimeWire upgrade dialog box

Lime1Ilan Bouchard-Gordon writes:

When LimeWire starts up, it shows a dialog box with an offer to upgrade to LimeWire Pro.  Each time it starts up, I press "Later".  However, LimeWire rotates the positions of the buttons, "Later", "Yes", and "Why Go Pro?" every time it starts up.

If I accidently press "Yes", as I've done many times because of this stupid design, I'm not more likely to sign up for an upgrade.  It's just annoying, not effective.


WinZip does the same thing.

Posted by: Tro at December 15, 2004 01:40 AM

_@_v - the quicktime player/viewer does that too - at least bugs you intermittantly to switch to the 'pro' version. i wish there was a patch to get rid of that stupid thing...

Posted by: she-snailie_@_v at December 15, 2004 01:41 AM

Annoying or not. It was conciously designed that way to make it less user-friendly.

Thus, it's not broken. Unfriendly to people not willing to pay for the software, yes. But not broken.

Posted by: scotfl at December 15, 2004 02:27 AM

For a shareware-only program, that's more or less okay; for a program that's supposedly free but has a "pro" counterpart, it's not. (I don't know if that's the case with LimeWire.)

Snailie: check out "QuickTime Alternative" (google for it), that's the QT codecs only, plus optionally a free Media Player Classic - no more nag screen. (There's also a "Real Alternative".)

Posted by: Andreas at December 15, 2004 04:43 AM

Yes, this behaviour is the same on QuickTime and is designed to make you have to look at the dialog before you click something.

You can easily get rid of this on QuickTime though by:

1. Set your system date forwards 2 years

2. Launch QuickTime

3. Exit QuickTime

4. Set the system date back

You shouldn't get the nag screen again (well at least for 2 years).


Posted by: Damien Guard at December 15, 2004 04:52 AM

I agree that interfaces designed to be difficult to use for a particular purpose are broken. (See Cory Doctorow's novel "Eastern Standard Tribe" for a more extensive study of the ramifications of intentionally poor UX work)

What's really broken here is the model of giving something away for free and then expecting people to shell out money once they 're hooked. Imagine if Mark Hurst starting charging a cover to view We'd all be outraged!

While some small, independent software companies do offer free demos with severly limited functionality and eventually turn a profit, I get the impression that most don't. Broken all around.

Posted by: Robby Slaughter at December 15, 2004 05:42 AM

_@_v - eee! thanx for the time/date tip to fool quicktime!

Posted by: she-snailie_@_v at December 15, 2004 07:21 AM

Since each time you are forced to actually look at the dialog box, maybe they're hoping to brainwash you into eventually clicking the "Yes" button of your own accord. (Did that make sense?)

Posted by: PlantPerson at December 15, 2004 08:55 AM

I can't believe I am reading this. This is NOT BROKEN.

It is not broken for software developers to give you fully-functioning software that has some annoyances in it that you have to pay for to get rid of. Every program or websites with advertisements falls into that category. Apparently it's a very successful model that lets developers contribute to the good of computing everywhere yet still get some financial compensation for their work.

If you can't handle it, pay for your software, cheapskates!

Posted by: Jay at December 15, 2004 09:03 AM

If you can't handle it, find a crack!

Posted by: dusoft at December 15, 2004 09:06 AM

I didn't post this because the company asks for money... that's a perfectly legitimate way to run a business, and the "nag" screen on the software fits right into that. Not broken.

What's broken is that the buttons rotate, making it hard for users to opt out, and continue using the free version. This doesn't benefit the user, but more to the point of the post, it also doesn't benefit the company: users aren't more likely to upgrade when the buttons rotate. In fact, some users may stop using the software altogether because of this broken nag screen.

Posted by: Mark Hurst at December 15, 2004 09:08 AM

I did not mean to imply that nagware was illegitmate or somehow morally bankrupt, just that it is a broken concept. Just because something is successful doesn't mean it can't be broken. LimeWire might be profitable, but they are still basing a component of their business around annoying users until they give in.

Anything that makes the user experience displeasant, is, in my opinion, not good. When that's caused by broken designs (as it is in the case), that's even worse. This is a double-whammy: a broken UI from a broken business model producing a very negative user experience.

Posted by: Robby Slaughter at December 15, 2004 11:06 AM

It's obviously broken when product designers don't take into account there are more factors for a person deciding to upgrade than whether or not they happen to open a browser window that has a place to put their credit card info into.

Posted by: Maurs at December 15, 2004 01:46 PM

the actual reason for this is probably not to annoy users, but to make it harder to automate the button clicking (for example by writing a script that starts the app and always clicks on the rightmost button, thus automatically "circumventing" the dialog box). So it's not broken.

Posted by: LKM at December 15, 2004 02:23 PM

I'd agree with the idea that this probably isn't broken. But, I'd point out that a company who facilitates the sharing of copywrited videos and songs over the internet prbably doen't care too much about how annoying their product is.

Posted by: Trevor Hall at December 15, 2004 03:02 PM

You do know that you can just download LimeWire Pro from LimeWire...right? Thats what my friend did, its kind of stupid...but yeah.

Posted by: Jon at December 15, 2004 03:50 PM

Well, here we go again. Another post, more chants of "NOT BROKEN!" and "YES, IT IS BROKEN!"

Posted by: ssssmemyself at December 15, 2004 10:45 PM

Yes, the concept behind it is broken. For the same reason I stopped using WinZip once and for all. F*** them.

Posted by: dusoft at December 16, 2004 07:14 AM

LKM raises a very legitimate point: the rotation of the buttons makes it harder to automate the application.

Remember, this effect is by design. It takes additional programming to move the buttons around. If the author designed it so that they move around, then the author definitely intends for them to move around.

I have used WinZip for free for years despite the rotating buttons. So I have no sympathy for you if you can't ahndle this. And if you are using this or any other product to facilitate the sharing of copywrited videos and songs over the Internet, I *definitely* have no sympathy for you.

Posted by: Jay at December 16, 2004 09:07 AM


If you have no sympathy for those who share copyrighted videos and songs over the Internet, perhaps you may want to look more closely at the terms of use for your Winzip program which keeps moving the buttons around.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at December 16, 2004 11:49 AM

Carlos: Good one. Anyone who uses shareware for "years" without paying for it, is pretty much in the same boat as someone who downloads copyrighted songs. You're supposed to *evaluate* the shareware for free, not just keep it. If you like it, then frickin' pay for it.

Posted by: E.T. at December 16, 2004 04:19 PM

See the "and" in front of my last sentence--the denial of sympathy applies to those who don't pay for their software AND complain about how it doesn't work when they don't. Especially when they use said software to pirate software.

On WinZip, I stand my ground. Even after the "evaluation" period ends, WinZip remains fully functional. Good move on their part: considering how dependent Internet users have been on zip programs for some time, had they been more restrictive, I and millions of other users would have dropped them in a heartbeat.

As it is, now that Windows XP provides the ability to compress file and open zip files, I have no further need for a separate program.

Posted by: Jay at December 17, 2004 09:06 AM

Jay, I apologize for the snarkiness of my previous comment, but I still think you're on pretty shaky ground here. Allow me to quote from the Winzip license agreement, from their help file (and everyone else, please bear with me, I do actually have a relevant "this is broken" point that I'm getting to):

"This is not free software. Subject to the terms below, you are hereby licensed ... to use one copy of WinZip ... for evaluation purposes without charge for a period of 21 days. If you use this software after the 21-day evaluation period, a license fee of $29 is required. ... Use of WinZip after the 21-day evaluation period without payment of the license fee is a breach of this License and a violation of U.S. and international copyright laws."

So you see, Jay, by using Winzip for "years" without paying for it, you are in exactly the same position as someone who downloads copyrighted material without permission of the owner.

But back to Limewire. Apparently (unlike Winzip, but like Quicktime) they offer two separate versions, a free version and an upgraded, "pro" version. Fair enough. But what's broken is they have deliberately made the free version annoying. It's a kind of bait and switch. Unlike Winzip, who make it clear that they expect you to make a decision about paying for their software, Limewire (and Quicktime) pretend they are going to give you something free, but then harass you whenever you use it. And I bet that Ilan and the other posters are right, it probably drives more postential customers away from the product than it encourages to pay. I know I avoid Quicktime at all costs.

Posted by: E.T. at December 17, 2004 11:16 AM

Another thing I've wondered about is the difference between Pro and the free version. In the nagbox it claims to give TURBOcharged results, but I get those all the time with my free version.

And whether or not it's ethical to use a program like Limewire is a different topic, though not one I'm trying to shy away from.

Posted by: Ilan at December 18, 2004 04:48 PM

That's stupid.

Posted by: Taco boy at December 18, 2004 06:15 PM

Nah, it's just what is called 'nag screen'. In short, "if you don't want to get annoyed anymore, pay us." That's the purpose it was designed for, and it serves it well. From that standpoint, not broken.

Posted by: Wesha at December 23, 2004 11:12 AM

"...It was conciously designed that way to make it less user-friendly..."

[Grin] Like the classic UX example: the QWERTY keypad. Originally designed to *slow down* typists (so the hammers wouldn't get fouled).

Posted by: DaveC426913 at January 5, 2005 03:20 PM

Use another file sharing application. Theres ones a lot better than limewire.

Posted by: Tyler at January 17, 2005 03:17 AM

I'm amazed that no one has commented on the "Thank you for helping keep the Internet open by running LimeWire." HUH??? How does a program help the internet to stay "open"??

Posted by: Ben at March 16, 2005 02:09 PM

It's not really broken (though I think it is broken to some degree), it's one of those dumb marketing strageties that just annoy you. Forget prisons - this is the real torture!

Posted by: xxx at April 21, 2005 12:20 AM

The truth here is that istead of people being helpful as this site was designed for.

I my self use Limewire as a free source of downloads although i have used it in the way it was designed so that my own short stories were available to anyont that may have stumbled upon them.

Never the less the "NAG" screen is exactally that and though i have found no was to stop it from apearing it is not broken but simply a legal way of saying there is a better version but u have 2 pay.

if you don't have soultions for problems such as ghanging registery keys to turm the nag off then don't bother leaving your comment if you have then please share just don't moan that cause you havn't if ur going to use free softwear then you get what u pay for

Posted by: use alot at May 2, 2005 01:46 PM

You guys are stupid! Do you know why they have the alternating buttons? They built the software like that for a reason. Yes some of you are correct in saying that it is so people accidentally click buy. But here is the other reason. Okay you probably have all signed up for something online, or tried to install/register some software. Often times they have a key that is not a font in a box (ie. a blurred out picture with some faint key inside it). Do you noobs have any idea why they do this??? If you don't, you've obviously never done any script programming! You can create programs to "MACRO" actions. Therefore they dont want people just simply cheating the system. With it blurred out like that, there is no font to copy or paste, and an actual human being must be present to read it and type it back in!!! A perfect example of this is the old mIRC chat program. Download it and mess around. Basically the entire chat is bot driven! Enough said... LimeWire is the same way with the alternating buttons, so that it is not the same sequenceing; and as stated earlier, also to make people more like buy it! End of discussion...

Posted by: Comp. Programmer at May 14, 2005 03:36 PM

That's perfectly acceptable from ANY software that you didn't buy.

WinZip pioneered this behaviour and they did it for a very specific reason:

It thwarts most dialog box/mouse macro programs that people use to dismiss nag screens on shareware. If you're going to use free software, don't complain about having to take an extra second to identify which button says 'later' on it. Especially if you're just going to use said software to suck down a gig of ripped mp3's.


Posted by: Brian at June 28, 2005 05:31 AM

i had to have computer fixed and lost my limewire pro i have had their service for over a year still have access to credit card charge info however to get assistance with customer service i have to remember the email address i signed up with. This is ridiculous there should be a way to contact this company other than this insane one route connection!!!!

Posted by: kkirsch at January 15, 2006 08:29 PM

I just downloaded Limewire Pro from Limewire for free and now the offer never appears anymore. >.

Posted by: Chuck at February 20, 2006 12:37 AM

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