Intuit has added an uninstaller feature for those users who are worried about the long-term effects of the Macrovision SafeCast/C-Dilla DRM software on their systems.
"As of today, were going to give them an uninstaller," said Scott Gulbransen, director of corporate communications for the company. "We listened to that issue."
"The company is run based on the experiences of its customers," Gulbransen added. "If we have to move, we have to move."
Intuits decision was prompted by a small, but vocal minority of customers which stridently objected to Intuits inclusion of the MacroVision SafeCast technology in the TurboTax 2002 release, which Macrovision bought from C-Dilla, a U.K.-based developer.
The uninstaller, which will be pushed to customers through an automatic Web update at the time the program is run, will uninstall SafeCast/C-Dilla files and folders at a users discretion. However, uninstalling SafeCast/C-Dilla will also prevent TurboTax from being run, Gulbransen said.
According to Intuit, the C-Dilla files were added to prevent unauthorized copying of the Intuit software, while still allowing customers some flexibility in doing their taxes. Intuit executives had wanted to add copy-protection software for some time, executives said.
"Its pretty simple," Gulbransen said. "We want to protect our IP."
Macrovision did not return calls for comment by press time.
Intuit includes a CD key in its documentation, which users are required to enter to activate the software. TurboTax then transmits the key up to an Intuit server, which kicks back an acknowledgement that unlocks the software. At no time is any uniquely identifiable information exchanged between a users PC and Intuits servers, Gulbransen said.
Gulbransen characterized much of the furor over the C-Dilla software as misinformation, based upon years-old stories characterizing C-Dilla as "spyware". (The SafeCast software adds a "Cdilla" folder to a users hard drive.)
Actually, TurboTax is the second Intuit product to contain the SafeCast/C-Dilla software; Intuit added the DRM software to its QuickTax software for the Canadian market last year. Gulbransen declined to comment when asked if SafeCast would be added to other Intuit products outside the tax group. DRM software has not been added to TurboTax For the Web, Intuits online version of its tax preparation software.
According to Gulbransen, Intuits TurboTax 2002 will only allow taxes to be filed or printed from a single machine. However, the software may be installed on numerous PCs, and files may be saved and copied from one machine to another. "What this means is that you can prepare your taxes on your laptop, for example, and then file them from your home computer," Gulbransen said.
Intuit also allows multiple filings from the same PC, allowing spouses to file separately.
Gulbransen said it was too early to say how sales had been affected by the controversy. "A lot of what happened out there has been misinformation," he said. "It gets out there, quoted from postings which arent even accurate."
Part of the fault lies with Intuit, however. Gulbransen said a sales agent had mistakenly told at least one customer that the software could not be transferred from one machine to another, setting off the controversy. "But then theres certain people who are opposed to any kind of activation," he added.