I need a program which can burn audio CDs and, right now, I can't afford to buy one. So I've been looking at, and trying, various freeware products--and so far each and every one of them has been crippled in one way or another.
Before I got the new computer I got sick of the way Nero would, inexplicably, clip the beginnings of some songs, so I found a really good freeware CD burner called "CD-XP", and it worked very well. I had no complaints about the way it worked.
The only problem, of course, is that CD-XP--sing along, folks!--won't run under Vista.
So I have tried "FreeBurn" and "Express Burn", from two different companies. Both programs purport to be freeware. Both programs are crippled and beg you to buy the "professional" version; this makes them shareware rather than freeware. "Express Burn" had a time limit.
Neither program actually said anything about being crippled when I installed them. In fact when I downloaded them they were billed as "freeware". Nothing said, "Hey, you have X days to try this product", nor did anything tell me, "Until you buy, you can only put nine tracks on an audio CD." No, nothing like that. (The latter product, BTW, was "Express Burn".) In fact, both products let me put as many tracks as I want into the compilation but then only burn up to their limit. That limit is nine tracks in the case of Express Burn, and sixteen in the case of "FreeBurn".
No warnings: "Hey, you can only burn X tracks per CD with this version of XXXYYY; upgrade to the Pro version for...." Nothing like that. It just lets me waste a CD and wonder, "I could have sworn I put more tracks on this...."
And so I am not going to buy either product. Besides, neither product supports "drag-and-drop"--I can't select my files from an explorer window and drop them into the compilation; I have to open a file dialog and select them from there, which is a pain in the ass.
Well, that's not exactly so. Express Burn allows you to drag-and-drop files into your compilation, but then it doesn't display the added file. Thus I ended up with three copies of the same song in the first CD I made with it...and of course, out of nine tracks, that ended up being a third of the CD. (I was slightly annoyed by this.)
To make matters worse, then, the CD I made with FreeBurn doesn't even work correctly on a standard CD player. The audio plays, but I can't step to the next track; I have to let it play because apparently the CD is not burned to the correct standard. My test player is a Toshiba XR-40, vintage 1985, and it has never failed to play any CD-R I have ever put into it; this is clearly a problem with the software.
Netscape has this annoying foible. It just hangs for several seconds every once in a while, for no obvious reason. It's most annoying when I'm trying to type something, but it's still irritating even when one is just surfing. I don't know if it's Netscape, Vista (trying to make me use Internut Exploder), or something else. All I know is that it's pissing me off.
Never did this under WinME, let me tell you. I'm starting to think that Windows ME was a paragon of stability and compatibility; everyone else says it was utter shit but I never had any serious problems with it. The one time I did an overlay install of the OS I'm not even sure (in retrospect) that it actually needed it--and that's in six years of ownership.
So, I suppose I'm going to have to pony up the cash for a media writing program that works. I'm not optimistic, and I'm worried that I'll blow $100 on Nero 7 and have it cough up dicks all over the place...but I don't see that I have much of a choice if I want to be able to make decent audio CDs on this machine.