Adware in Software Installers – Quick Thoughts

Adware. Software designed to try to pop up and mess with your normal computer activity, and/or inject advertisements at random intervals, or when told to do so by a master server.

Some applications I use like the cleaning software from Wise and ImgBurn now come with annoying “offers” that the author is trying to make some quick bucks from. It’s almost as bad as OpenCandy – that piece of shit that would be installed on many computers that came into my office which would randomly try to install additional software that the client didn’t want. Wise/Lespeed Technology Inc has a offer for SpyHunter 3 (which is by the same guys who are suing BleepingComputer for giving them a crap review because their product is garbage) which you can easily click “Decline” – it’s on the left hand side than next door to the “Accept” button on the right. I’ll let them off the hook because they do offer a portable version of Wise Disk Cleaner and friends that you can download, extract and run to not worry about having to install things.

WinSCP’s installer used to use OpenCandy, but stopped after it came under fire due to malware being installed. ImgBurn’s installer if I recall correctly uses OpenCandy and the author, Lighting UK came across as a big prick where he basically said “Install the ‘crapware’ then uninstall it once ImgBurn is installed” and said “Nope, no binaries only or portable versions”. In fact, ImgBurn is quite portable – zip the files up in the installation directory or copy them to your USB Stick and you’re gold – I did that to my copy to ImgBurn and it hasn’t complained.

I recently tried to download JDownloader 2, which is a all-in-one download manager that will also download files from a lot of file-hosting websites. Just copy and paste the links, it’ll check if they are valid, you know the drill. However, the official web downloader will download a adware-infested version of the actual JDownloader setup file which BitDefender detects as a Trojan. You have to dig into the forum archives to find links to the no-adware installer versions which install without any adware attached.

My case here is that software authors need to understand that not everyone wants to install offered crapware with tools – especially those fucking Bing/Ask/SearchProtect/whatever toolbars that fuck up your web bowser. Sure, you can offer them but do not be a prick and hide the “Skip/Decline” button. Give the user two (or three, if you have multiple offers) options that say “Yes, Install”, “No, skip”, “Skip all”. That’s all I’m asking. Or go the alternate route and put a screen before the “Setup complete” screen saying that if you like the software, please throw some beer money into the jar. That way the user can decide.

I personally have donated to software developers that make good software and the installer is clean of crapware offers. I understand it takes time and money to make good software, but if your installer infects my machine with crapware before I can even use your software, then I’m not using it.

Just my two cents.