Lightweight Burning with XP
Even though they both were making burning software for Windows, they really weren't in competition with each other because their software was targeted at two distinct groups. Despite this they decided that they had to beat the other guy at all costs and engaged in a feature war that has left both bloated with all sorts of stuff that no one wants in their burning program.
Ahead is now selling "Nero 8 Ultra Edition" which includes photo, video and audio editing, YouTube integration, media streaming to Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, and for some reason, DVR functionality. Roxio ups the ante with "Easy Media Creator 10 Suite". Features include the same photo, video and audio editing capabilities but adds DVD menu creation and video capture. It also sports YouTube integration, mobile content conversion, and internet radio capture.
When did my burning software become an operating system by itself? All of these functions are better served with dedicated software, I just want my software to burn CD's, everything else I will deal with as I need it. Not everyone that burns a music CD is going to edit video. Thankfully some kind hearted souls have decided they don't want to install 2 GB worth of crap to burn a CD and have release FREE software that make both Ahead's and Roxio's software irrelevant.
InfraRecorder is a very basic software that is as about as simple as it can get. It doesn't have all the options I'd like but for 90% of the CD's I make it does a great job. I discovered it when I was looking for a free program that would let my friend burn an Ubuntu ISO image. It's released under the GPL software license so I can add features if I want or even remove them if they started padding the software with useless gimmicks.
CDBurnerXP is a much more polished product and does everything Nero used to do so well. It's still very easy to use but has enough advanced options that I don't need Nero at all anymore. It's not an open source software but it has a freeware license and doesn't include any ads or maleware.