Microsoft gives adware pusher an MVP award

Summary:Since when did the criteria for being named a Microsoft MVP include pushing adware, spyware, and malware? That's what a couple of longtime MVPs want to know after seeing a controversial software developer receive official recognition from Microsoft despite longstanding complaints about his product.

Update 7-Oct 2:30 PDT: In the Talkback section below, Microsoft MVP Carey Frisch reports:

Mr. Paciullo's MVP Award has been revoked. Once the MVP program learned and investigated the extent of the connection, they took action today (Oct 7th) to revoke the MVP Award from Mr. Cyril Paciullo. The vital importance of maintaining the integrity and confidence of the MVP Award was paramount in making the decision.

Around this time every year, Microsoft publishes its new list of Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs). MVPs are unpaid volunteers, not Microsoft employees, and the official criteria for being named an MVP are based on their willingness to participate in technical and product communities.

So how did a guy whose primary business involves installing adware become an MVP? That's what Christopher Boyd, a Microsoft Security MVP better known as Paperghost wants to know:

Well, step right up Patchou AKA Cyril Paciullo, creator of Messenger Plus! I first heard about this while stopping over at his website, and was surprised to find him lurking in the Windows Live Developer section on the MVP site. That's him, down at the bottom of the page.

For anyone who doesn't know about the controversy surrounding this program, its an add-on for Windows Messenger / Live / whatever they're calling it this week. Problem is, it comes bundled with LOP, a major source of annoyance and anger for web-users since, oh, ages ago. Yeah, it now gives you an option as to whether you want to install it or not - but that's hardly the point, is it?

Boyd isn't the only MVP who has a history with Patchou. Sandi Hardmeier, a current MVP in the Internet Explorer category who specializes in the fight against malware, has written three long, angry pages about the messy adware that "sponsors" Patchou's product. In an April 2006 post, she went through Patchou's Messenger Plus in excruciating detail, concluding:

Patchou has a new "distributor" for his sponsor, called "Circle Development Ltd", but don't be fooled into thinking that Patchou's turned into one of the good guys... NO HOW, NO WAY!!!  It's still malware, and even worse, it pushing betrayware/rogueware... fake or disreputable antispyware applications, and advertisements that are entirely unsuitable for an underage audience ...

NOTE: I RECOMMEND THAT YOU **NOT** INSTALL THE SPONSOR PROGRAM.  THE POP UP WINDOWS GENERATED BY THE SPONSOR PROGRAM WILL, IN MY AND OTHER'S EXPERIENCE, TRY TO DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL MALWARE ONTO YOUR SYSTEM.

Microsoft has made extraordinary strides in security over the past couple of years. The Microsoft Security Response Center has been widely praised for its work, and the teams working on consumer security products like Windows Defender and Windows Live OneCare have gotten generally positive reviews.

But dumb decisions like this one are enough to undo years' worth of work.

Last year, when Microsoft was on the verge of buying Claria, the company wised up and scotched the deal.

Whoever made that decision should step in here and click the Undo button. Pronto.

Topics: Security

About

Ed Bott is an award-winning technology writer with more than two decades' experience writing for mainstream media outlets and online publications. He has served as editor of the U.S. edition of PC Computing and managing editor of PC World; both publications had monthly paid circulation in excess of 1 million during his tenure. He is the a... Full Bio

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