Real Networks is introducing a new product today that blends RealPlayer and RealJukebox into a single program – and starts a steady flow of money out of your pockets. This is the first real demonstration of the future as envisioned by the copyright holders. Instead of selling the software, RealNetworks will claim to be selling a “service” on a subscription basis, starting at $9.95/month – with lots of additional services available, each and every one at additional cost. Here’s an article with more details. RealPlayer and RealJukebox are proud to occupy a spot near the top of my personal list of programs with the most annoying features I can imagine. Infinite numbers of advertisements in your face, icons thrown everywhere on the screen with wild abandon, bugs galore, confusing interfaces – they really set a high standard for awfulness. Now they’re going to add “digital rights management” to limit your use of the music you get for your monthly fee. I haven’t tested the new product, but – well, personally, I wouldn’t touch this gobbler with a ten foot pole.

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