17 Notably Bad Products from Great Tech Companies

As these products demonstrate, even the best tech companies can lay an egg on occasion.


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Posted September 24, 2009

David Strom

David Strom

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No one is perfect, and even some of the most successful and long-standing computer companies occasionally have stinkers of products.

Here are my nominations to the list of the all-time losers. Feel free to add your own thoughts and products too.


Let's start off with Microsoft, which is no doubt the most profitable software company on the planet. Yet even they have faltered over the years.

1) Bob (1995)

Notable for: The venom generated by such a simple product and also as one of the projects that Melinda (Mrs. Bill) Gates worked on.

bad tech products from great companies

Probably the most notorious is Bob, which was supposed to be a friendlier alternative to clicking on the program icons in the program manager in Windows 3.1. The trouble stemmed from the fact that Bob was too cartoonish and really didn't do much. Bob became the butt of many jokes and numerous parodies.

2) Microsoft Windows ME (2000)

Notable for: One of the worse versions of any Microsoft operating system since DOS 4.

bad tech products from great companies

ME was perhaps called Mistake Edition but it did introduce the system restore feature, which was essential because most of the people that installed it soon uninstalled it due to compatibility problems with software, drivers, and hardware.

3) Microsoft Groove

Notable for: Bringing Ray Ozzie to Microsoft, where Ozzie is now chief software architect.

bad tech products from great companies

Ray Ozzie, one of the developers behind Lotus Notes, started Groove. Microsoft acquired the company in 2005. The software creates collaborative workspaces that originally used its own client software. Much of its functionality has been incorporated into Sharepoint and Office Live services.

4) Home router MN-500/700 (2002)

Notable for: Showing that once and for all, Microsoft never will be a router/networking vendor. Stick to keyboards and mice.

bad tech products from great companies

Even though Microsoft is predominantly a software vendor, they do try to sell the occasional piece of hardware, and this one was a total dog: a home wireless router akin to the thousands of products from Linksys, Netgear and numerous other vendors. At the time, Cisco had yet to purchase Linksys and wireless networks were just beginning to replace wired ones in the homes. Still, this wasn't a fit for the company and the router soon disappeared from sight.


There are so many products it is hard to even know where to start, but certainly 1984 wasn't a banner year for the company. Here are four products that stand out from that moment of time:

5) Lotus Symphony (1984)

Notable for: The first integrated "Office" program well before Microsoft Office came to be.

bad tech products from great companies

Before Lotus Software was a part of IBM, they developed an integrated word processing/spreadsheet and database program called Symphony that was a total disaster. It ran in DOS, it was big and bloated (it came on a dozen floppy disks), and it lacked many of the features of stand-alone word processing and database programs of its era. Curiously, IBM has re-used the name for a currently shipping product that is based on the OpenOffice suite of software.

6) PC Jr. (1984)

Notable for: The worst keyboard ever. But it was wireless before Bluetooth came into creation.

bad tech products from great companies

IBM tried to make a computer for the masses that had an unusable keyboard and was twice the price of products from the competition. Notice the dual cartridge game ports on the right side of the chassis – they were the PC equivalent of the 8 track tape players and suffered a similar fate!

Next Page: the first "portable" PC

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Tags: Windows, services, Microsoft, wireless, Lotus Notes

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