My Rosetta Stone CD-ROM doesn’t work anymore. Can you help?

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By Christopher Elliott

When Margaretta McKenna upgrades her computer, her Rosetta Stone CD-ROM stops working. Can she upgrade to the new online version for free?

Question

I purchased the Rosetta Stone Italian program many years ago. I was using it on my Mac computer. I purchased a new Apple computer, and now my Rosetta Stone is not compatible with the new system. 

I emailed Rosetta Stone and they offered me three months free on their website. 

I paid about $450 for the Italian program. Now they evidently have a subscription way of doing things. 

I don’t see why I should have to pay for it now. I would like to have access to my Italian complete boxed set that I still have here. I can’t remember when I purchased the program. I would like to have access to the Rosetta Stone program online if that’s the only way. If they have new CDs that are compatible with my new computer, I would take that instead. Can you help? — Margaretta McKenna, Brockton, Mass.

Answer

I’m sorry your Rosetta Stone CDs don’t work on your new Mac computer. You must have bought those CDs a long time ago. Rosetta Stone discontinued its CD-ROM and digital download products in 2019.

Why doesn’t the CD-ROM work on your new computer? The old system requires Adobe Flash Player, but Adobe discontinued that product in 2020. So if you didn’t have Adobe Flash installed on your computer before then, your Italian language CDs won’t work.

Why you should upgrade your computer now

What’s surprising about your case is that it took this long to reach my desk. Adobe Flash is ancient history. But I imagine many readers are in a similar situation as you were — using an older computer that hasn’t been updated in a while.

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After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right? Well, no. Clinging to an aging machine that has served you faithfully for years can get you into a lot of trouble. Here’s why:

Security concerns

Adobe Flash, once a staple for multimedia content on the web, is now a security nightmare. It’s riddled with vulnerabilities, making your system susceptible to attacks. Modern websites have moved away from Flash, opting for more secure web standards. Continuing to run Flash is like leaving your front door wide open in a digital neighborhood. (Related: Buying a PC? Here’s what you need to know now.)

Performance issues

Your old computer’s hardware is like a vintage automobile. It has its charm, but it lacks the horsepower of newer models. Upgrading your RAM, storage drives, and processor can significantly boost performance. Just think: No more spinning beachballs! No more waiting forever for pages to load.

Compatibility concerns

Operating systems evolve, and so should your computer. Newer versions of macOS and Windows come with enhanced features and improved security. Sticking with an outdated OS means missing out on these benefits. Plus, as software developers move forward, they optimize their programs for modern hardware and operating systems. Eventually, your old machine won’t keep up, leaving you unable to run the latest apps. (Related: Oh no! I bought the laptop from hell at Best Buy.)

There’s also the environmental impact of holding on to an aging PC. Older computers are energy hogs. Upgrading to a more efficient system not only saves you money on electricity bills but also reduces your carbon footprint.

How will Rosetta Stone solve your CD-ROM problem?

Rosetta Stone’s standard offer to owners of its “legacy” products like your box set is a three-month subscription. That doesn’t seem very generous, considering that you paid $450 for your Italian language CD-ROMs. (Rosetta was running a special for a lifetime online membership for just $199 at the time you contacted me.)

I’ve run into this problem before with CD-ROMs published by my former employer, National Geographic. Back then, as I explained, the issue was obsolescence — technology evolving quickly and leaving consumers in the dust. That’s what happened to you, too. (Related: Help! Dell is holding my “hot” computer hostage.)

Although I don’t publish the executive contacts for Rosetta Stone, they are easy to find with my guide to getting the name of the CEO. (All email addresses at Rosetta Stone end in ixl.com, Rosetta’s parent company.)

I contacted Rosetta Stone on your behalf.

“We no longer support CD-ROM and Digital Download Programs, although they may still work on compatible computers,” a representative told me. “Since our online subscription is a different product with exclusive features such as translations, live lessons, phrasebook and stories, we aren’t able to accommodate a transfer from the older product to the new online version.”

But Rosetta Stone extended a discount on a lifetime unlimited languages subscription for $79 instead of $299. So you’ll have access to all 25 languages with this option, including Italian and Spanish. 

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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