I am absolutely disappointed with the direction Corel is taking Paint Shop Pro X3.

This is not necessarily a Paint Shop Pro X3 review, but more of a plea to Corel to restructure the direction they are trying to take with Paint Shop Pro.

I have been an avid Paint Shop Pro fan for years. I started using Paint Shop Pro back when Jasc still owned the software. I believe the actual buyout of Jasc occurred around version 9. Every year since the buyout Corel has slowly introduced more bloatware and even spyware (see protexis licensing service) with each version.

Paint Shop Pro X3 is so bloated with useless features that the install directory now exceeds 1.14 GB of hard drive space. That’s more than a 600 MB increase from the X12.5 Ultimate Version which only consumed 448 MB of hard drive space. Further, the installation of Paint Shop Pro X3 literally takes 30 or more minutes on the most modern of computers. Something is definitely wrong when it takes longer to install a program than it does an entire Operating System.

It has become apparent to me that Corel has lost focus on what made Paint Shop Pro popular to begin with. It appears they are obsessed with developing and marketing useless bloatware to novice users, instead of focusing on improving the functionality of the full editor. Why is there a full editor mode now anyway? What happened to just Paint Shop Pro? Paint Shop Pro’s primary function is now so skewed that our user interface needs multiple tabs to distinguish which program you are using. I sometimes wonder how great Paint Shop Pro would have been if Jasc was still developing the software? As with many other small startups Jasc was successful because they thrived on innovation, not multi-million dollar marketing hype.

All this embedded marketing bloatware literally slows my computer to a crawl, and it creates stability issues within the full editor. Let’s see, in X3 we have several useless additions like mediacataloger.exe, photodownloader.exe, PSPProjectCreator.exe, Instantviewer.exe, and PSIservice.exe (spyware) that installs in the background without my permission, eating up my computer resources. Most of these services continue to run even after Paint Shop Pro X3 is closed.

Why do I need some resource hogging service like mediacataloger indexing every photo I place on my computer? I am perfectly capable, and actually prefer manually organizing my own photo library. We already have a My Pictures directory built into Windows for us to place our photos. I don’t need a program to keep up with where I put my photos. The cataloging or indexing (whatever you want to call it) of photos may appeal to some, but at least give us a choice to not install. It’s a resource hog that interferes with my screen capturing software, which results in both my screen capturing application and X3 to freeze or crash. Also why even waste time developing additions like Instantviewer? Windows already has a perfectly capable Picture Viewer built in that works fine. But I assume you thought yours was better and decided to overwrite my default file type handling with your viewer without notifying me during installation.

If the trend continues Paint Shop Pro will lose its identity as an advanced graphics editor and will become nothing more than a basic one-click photo editing tool. And to be honest, by the looks of X3 this may be the direction Corel wants to take our once beloved program. The addition of Expresslab proves this, which btw, now loads as the default interface editor in X3. I have to switch to full editor mode now. What kind of nonsense is this?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand adding these features from a marketing standpoint. There’s nothing wrong with designing features that would appeal to the casual crowd. However, please don’t do this at the expense of the more advanced users, you know, the loyal customers that have faithfully followed Paint Shop Pro for years. I could have moved on to Photoshop years ago, but I wanted to see Paint Shop Pro succeed. I have always had this underdog mentality about me. I like to see the little guys win, or at least remain somewhat competitive with the big boys. It frustrates me to no end that I have spent countless hours marketing Paint Shop Pro to the masses across the internet through videos and tutorials, and this is the end result? Paint Shop Pro used to be known for being bloatware free, stable, and innovative. What went wrong?

Many of your Paint Shop Pro customers actually still use the software for development and design in our businesses and workplaces. We don’t need all this extra “fluffware” eating up all our system resources and degrading the performance of our computers. Devote some of that development time and resources to improving toolsets, enhancing productivity, and improving performance. It’s obvious that the full editor isn’t receiving the development attention it needs. This becomes overwhelming observable when you try to use the text tool in X3. The text tool is completely broken. If this trend continues the Paint Shop Pro advanced/full editor buried deep under the bloatware will eventually fade into obscurity.

My suggestion to Corel is to listen to what your customers want. There’s a ton of negative press already circulating the internet surrounding X3’s bloatware and stability issues. Quit experimenting with name changes and just bundle up all the “box marketing fluff” such as, Expresslab, MediaCataloger, and Project Creator(a collection of even more useless software), and sell it as Paint Shop Beginner Edition. Have two separate development teams that focus on each release, one team for Paint Shop Beginner and one team for Paint Shop Pro. If that is not possible, at the very least give us an option to not install or uninstall all this excess bloatware. Listen to your customers, listen to my plea, and restructure the direction of Paint Shop Pro before it’s too late.


Note: I will follow up this post soon with a tutorial on how to manually disable most of this resource hogging junk Corel has added to the core program.