StopBadware.org has nailed RealPlayer in its latest report on badware and ranks it along side such software gems as the Jessica Simpson Screensaver, Fake-Mailer, Drive Cleaner 2006 and WinAntiVirus 2006.
StopBadware.org, largely funded by Google, says the following about RealPlayer:
We find that RealPlayer 10.5 is badware because it fails to accurately and completely disclose the fact that it installs advertising software on the user's computer. We additionally find that RealPlayer 11 is badware because it does not disclose the fact that it installs Rhapsody Player Engine software, and fails to remove this software when RealPlayer is uninstalled.
We currently recommend that users do not install the versions of RealPlayer software that we tested, unless the user is comfortable with the software behaviors we identify or until the application is updated to be consistent with the recommendations contained in this report.
RealPlayer 11 is currently promoted by RealNetworks at www.real.com.
RealPlayer 10.5 is distributed through channels such as Mozilla Firefox's 'Missing Plug-in' feature and the BBC Radio website.
StopBadware.org's take isn't that much of a leap for me since I've had my run-ins with RealPlayer before. To RealNetworks' credit the company fixed most of my gripes in the latest version of RealPlayer.
The group recommends that RealNetworks disclose the nature of the message center's advertising behavior in RealPlayer 10.5. It should outline these things during installation. On RealPlayer 11, RealNetworks should also provide clear text noting the Rhapsody Player Engine will be installed--and add the option to uninstall it.
Ryan Naraine reports that RealNetworks will fix these issues in future versions. It better. Being in the Stopbadware.org club can't be a good thing for business.