The Top 5 worst downloads of summer 2009

The worst downloads of the summer range from programs that sound useful but aren't, to programs that sound horrible and are, and include one that just defies common decency--and not in a good way.

While the rest of you are off gallivanting about in the summer sun, I've been chained to my desk under the San Francisco fog to parse through the worst downloads of the summer. This time around, the range varies from programs that sound useful but aren't, to programs that sound horrible and are, and include one that just defies common decency--and not in a good way.

Be sure to check out CNET TV editor Tom Merritt's video on these five train wrecks and just what I get out of all this. Oh, and a quick disclaimer, just so we're all on the same page: none of these programs are malicious software of any kind, and all meet CNET's software hosting policies. You're safe in downloading them and trying them out. Consider yourself warned, though: they suck, and maybe even worse than the batch from this spring.

Coming in at No. 5 is Google Maps Downloader. Designed for that rare Venn diagram intersection of cartographers and unnecessarily challenging work flows, this program requires knowing the exact latitude and longitude to save a map. And it's not just one set of coordinates, either. It's way too much effort for something that can be done just as easily with a screen capture. Sometimes it's cool to have professional-level software, but this isn't one of those times.

For No. 4, I present to you yet another entry in the long list of Gnutella clients that already exist for spreading mislabeled malicious software and porn. This one's called TurboWire, and promises even faster download speeds for getting your system-infecting copies of Windows 7 RTM or "Harry Potter".

At to No. 3, the Seanau Icon Collection promises a difficult pronunciation along with a rip-off of a deal. See, the program gives you six generic icons in different sizes, and you can then pay $70 to get the other 2,794 just-as-generic icons. You pay $70, and you get lameness. As Tom pointed out, what's the icon for rip-off?

Windows Movie Maker has its fans, but then, nobody's perfect. This Microsoft program is far, far from perfection, with its buggy behavior, frequent crashes, and lack of modern features. With all the overhauls that Microsoft has been focusing on of late, from Windows 7 to Office to Windows Media Player, one hopes that Redmond will soon focus their attention on this backward little fella. Either that, or kill it outright.

The worst download of the summer has to be the Michael Joseph Jackson Screen Saver. Before you fire off that flame mail, hear me out. It's not the content of the screen saver--if you're a MJ fan, you're going to want to remember him in some way, and there are worse things you could do besides a screen saver that shows you a new version of Jackson's face every 10 seconds--kind of like the man himself. No, the real problem with this, no matter your relationship to Jacko, is that it's a craven attempt to capitalize on his passing. Tragically hilarious? Amusingly offensive? Both, at the same time? Either way, it's awful, so give this No. 1 a big, big pass.

Be sure to check out Tom Merritt's video for a chance to win an extremely special prize.