Update: Intuit Buys A Clue: Discontinues Product Activation for TurboTax

Sometimes, people have to learn the same old lessons over again. When Intuit released it’s 2003 version of TurboTax, which is the most popular package for self-preparers, they listened to the likes of Macrovision who sells software classified as “digital rights management”.

This type of software is the kind which Microsoft introduced in most versions of its XP operating system which prevents the user from using the program as purchased, but rather, requires the user to either be connected to the internet or make a phone call for “activation”.

One “feature” of the software is that it can be installed upon only one computer, as it generates a code based upon a hidden set of unique features (usually including hardware detection) on the PC it’s running. The given code, therefore, would be useless if the user were to try to install the same package on his notebook computer, for example. The software continues to run on the PC, however, even when the program (in this case TurboTax) is not running or even when Turbo Tax is uninstalled.

This writer’s experience in prior years was that the uninstallation process was quite clean. I ran a program which took a snapshot of my system prior to and after the installation of TurboTax 2002, and after I ran Intuit’s uninstaller, I compared it with Ashampoo’s system log to find that it was a FULL uninstall which is, in my experience RARE.

So in reading this, you may have asked yourself, “what benefit does any of this digital rights management offer to ME, the consumer? The answer, NOTHING.

The “carrot” at the end of these DRM sticks is ALWAYS that piracy makes the price of software higher. After using Macromedia’s DRM, however, Intuit, expecting higher sales (due to lower amounts of copying) should have, if we are to believe this argument, lowered the price. No lower price was offered, however, and instead, consumers, once they caught wind of the “added costs” of installing Turbo Tax, flocked to other tax prep packages, most notably H&R Block’s “Tax Cut”, which promised to import prior years Turbo Tax data while installing no DRM software onto the client’s computer.

The result? Intuit has announced that, starting next year, it will no longer use “Product Activation”.

Score one for common sense!

Article on ExtremeTech.com