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Intuit to TurboTax users: We're sorry

In an open letter to customers to be published Thursday, the company plans to apologize for its product activation experiment, saying the antipiracy measure was a mistake.

Financial software and services company Intuit has apologized for its recent experiments with antipiracy technology and is vowing not to repeat the experience.

In an open letter to customers, set to run as an ad Thursday in several major publications, the software maker acknowledges that its decision to add product activation last year to its TurboTax tax preparation software went awry.

"I want to personally apologize for any frustration you may have experienced due to the restrictions that came with our use of antipiracy technology," Tom Allanson, Intuit's general manager for TurboTax, said in the letter. "I've talked one-on-one with quite a few customers, so I know this caused some of you considerable hassle and inconvenience."

Product activation is a controversial but increasingly common antipiracy technique that ties a piece of software to a specific PC. TurboTax was one of the first widespread consumer products to use the methods. Its move attracted loud protests from customers, who complained that the technology made the software difficult to install and run, and made changes to their PC hard drive that were difficult to undo.

While Intuit argued that many of the complaints were groundless, it acknowledged problems with the process and promised that once the tax season was over, it would skip activation in the next versions of TurboTax.

Allanson said in the letter that besides ditching activation, the version of TurboTax for the 2003 tax season will include changes in licensing provisions that allow a single user to install a piece of software on multiple PCs. The update is scheduled to go on sale in January.

"You told us that you want the flexibility to install and use TurboTax on multiple computers, and we heard you, loud and clear," he wrote.