I wrote a few years ago about stealth installs, but the practice continues; I thought I’d give another example of what to watch out for.
Today I updated a couple of modules of Free Studio from DVD Video Soft; notice I link to them because they provide a really useful suite of products that work well, for free. I get that they don’t do this as a labor of love – they need to monetize this somehow, and I suspect the foistware issue continues because it helps the bottom line. So be it – but the consumer should be aware of the rules of the game, because what you get is often not what you want or need.
During the install, you get this dialog box. It tells you exactly what you’re going to do to your computer, so nothing is really hidden there.
If you just go ahead and click the “next” button, you’ll be installing bytefence, Chromium (an open-source version of Chrome that doesn’t really work that well in the Windows environment), and YahooEverywhere, which will be difficult to remove if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s not until you click the “Click here to customize the installation” link that you see exactly what’s going to happen, and get to uncheck the boxes.
Far too many people, when installing software, just go NextNextNextNext, without reading what the boxes say. After all, who really reads the EULAs or is telling the truth when they click the “I have read and agree” button? We’d spend half our lives plowing through byzantine legalese if we did, and I’m still not convinced any of these agreements would hold up in court.
“Set Yahoo as my default search, homepage and new tab on all my compatible browsers.” Uh, no.
From where I sit this is just not an ethical business model, because it takes advantage of consumer unawareness. In my previous article I mentioned Oracle, who for the longest time tried to cram the “Ask” toolbar and search engine down people’s throats when they installed or updated Java. I don’t know if they are still doing that or not, but I always thought it was supremely douchey because Ask is a supremely intrusive and essentially worthless software package.
Just be careful. When you install software, read each menu and see what’s being installed/offered. Deselect things you don’t want, and you’ll avoid a host of problems down the road. Unless you want your browser to look like this:
The Old Wolf has spoken.