Say "No!" to bundled apps!

Say "No!" to bundled apps!

Summary: You've gotta be careful when you install software nowadays - you install one thing and you end up with a couple of applications that you didn't expect to get. Welcome to the world of applications bundling, and it seems that everyone is doing it nowadays.

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TOPICS: Security
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You've gotta be careful when you install software nowadays - you install one thing and you end up with a couple of applications that you didn't expect to get.  Welcome to the world of application bundling, and it seems that everyone is doing it nowadays.

Over the past few years I've noticed a disturbing increase in app bundling.  Sure, you've always had to keep an eye on the install process just to make sure that you weren't getting something you didn't bargain for, especially if you were dealing with less well-known vendors, but now it seems that there's no telling who might be bundling apps - free software or commercial, it seems that companies are looking for additional revenue streams.

Take, for example, security software.  Alex Eckelberry, president of Sunbelt Software, security expert and all round good guy, has been keeping an eye on the competition and has noticed a disturbing trend where security vendors are bundling the Ask toolbar with their security offerings.  Webroot, ZoneAlarm and STOPzilla are three examples that Eckelberry has posted about recently.  These products don't just offer bundled apps to customers, the option to install them is pre-checked in the hope that users will unwittingly install them.  Disturbing how quickly security firms will resort to rogue tactics when it suits them.

Webroot bundled app  STOPzilla bundled app

ZoneAlarm bundled apps

Image credit: Sunbelt Software

In case you're wondering why security firms would risk their reputation by resorting to such disreputable tricks, the simple answer is that these companies are paid to bundle. 

It's not just security firms up to dubious tricks though.  I've lost count of the examples of bundling I've seen just over the past few months.  WinZip used to come bundled with the Google Toolbar and Desktop Search but now pushes the Carbonite online backup service and Adobe Reader comes with (or at least did the last time I looked) Yahoo! toolbar.  Oddly enough, I stopped using both of these products - I use 7-Zip and FoxIt Reader instead. 

 WinZip bundled app

Even hardware vendors aren't shy of bundling either.  Lately installing or updating ATi graphics card drivers has become a pain because if you're not careful you end up with Earthsim and a whole lot of other unnecessary stuff installed, with the associated icons scattered about the place like confetti.

ATi bundled apps    ATi bundled app

I want to make it clear that I'm not anti-bundling, instead I'm against trying to trick the user into installing something they don't want or need by pre-checking the option in the installation program.  Not only is this designed to catch out the unwary, it makes the install process longer because you have to do custom installs and scrutinize everything.  Each time I come across a pre-checked bundled app, I lose respect for the company which is wasting my time, turning the install process into a game of Russian roulette and disrespecting my PC.  

Say "No!" to bundled apps! 

Thoughts?

Topic: Security

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105 comments
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  • Roxio Creator 9 has got to be ....

    ... one of the worst. Not only does it push a laundry list of programs already checked. It installs several DivX programs that aren't even listed with a check box. You can uninstall them later but you are not given a choice at install.
    ShadeTree
    • why you don't use the repository? (nt)

      ;)
      n0neXn0ne
    • nero trys to install ASK.com

      nero trys to install ASK.com
      SO.CAL Guy
      • K3B ask for nothing

        other than required dependencies. ;)

        I can't wait for that to be available on Windows.
        Michael Kelly
  • Software companies should be ashamed

    Yea. I have noticed the increase too and I don't like it. It's either toolbars or some kind of "offer". You can't avoid the e-music offer when installing Winamp for an example. It's idiotic. It seems that some vendors are getting desperate or maybe just greedy. You really have to keep an eye on the install guide these days.
    Viklund
  • Everyone?

    [i]Welcome to the world of applications bundling, and it seems that everyone is doing it nowadays.[/i]

    Not everyone -- I just set the USE flags and include only the stuff I want.

    As for the stuff [u]you[/u] use, well, it's their software. If you don't like it, don't use it.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • You still have to look

      at what the USE flags are before you install. Some USE flags are negative flags, and by that I mean you have to set a flag to have it not install something you don't want.
      Michael Kelly
  • You forget the worst bundler of all ... Google

    It is amazing to me how I often I have to uncheck the box
    that says, No, I do not want to install google desktop and
    toolbar. I already have it installed, thank you.
    Rob Oakes
    • I agree

      I do not know how many companies have gotten money from google to bundle their toolbars/desktop with these companies software, but it seems to be about 3/4 of the software I install has the Google stuff attached to it.

      Fortuneatelly, I can uncheck them everytime.
      GuidingLight
    • AMEN!!!

      If I wanted it I am a big boy and can get it for myself.
      No_Ax_to_Grind
    • What?

      The worst is Microsoft.. How many apps are "bundled" in your O/S that you DO NOT USE.
      ju1ce
      • If you're gonna go there...

        ...then why not include pretty much EVERY Linux distro...? Most of them seem to come with all manner of bloat - multiple GUIs, productivity suites, apps and a plethora of other stuff - 1/2 of which you won't ever use.
        Wolfie2K3
    • Don't be Evil

      Doesn't Google have a motto of "don't be evil"?

      Bunding the google desktop with software and having the checkbox already checked seems a little evil to me.

      Maybe their slogan should be, "Don't be evil unless it increases the value of our stock."
      Handrew
  • Wow!

    [B]?...and it seems that everyone is doing it nowadays.?[/B]

    Not in the Linux realm! You can say no very easily. Choose your source, choose your fate.

    [B]?Disturbing how quickly security firms will resort to rogue tactics when it suits them.?[/B]

    Yes, just another example of corporate abuse of the consumer. But nobody really [I]seems[/I] to care.

    [B]?Lately installing or updating ATi graphics card drivers has become a pain because if you?re not careful you end up with Earthsim and a whole lot of other unnecessary stuff installed, with the associated icons scattered about the place like confetti.?[/B]

    Kind of makes open source drivers look a better doesn't it? I asked this question of a bunch of people, why do you put up with this crap?

    Hey bottom line, people pay for this abuse by companies. Until there is a significant consumer lash-back (what ever happened to boycotts?), this will continue and only get worse. And this is just one more reason why I use and promote Linux. ]:)
    Linux User 147560
    • Don't get to happy to quickly

      When linux becomes more popular. You will see similar tactics.
      nrfool
      • Ah!

        But you seem to fail to understand that there will always be options other than what a company will provide. So no, this won't be a problem for Linux. ]:)
        Linux User 147560
        • Yes and no.

          If you are Linux experienced, no it will not be a problem. However, if you are Linux lite or a newbie, yes it could be a problem from a commercial distro. Welcome to the dilemma of free software. Now it is the realm of paid software, kinda like what cable TV did. It had no commercials in the 80s but now we swim in them.

          However putting a toolbar in with a security app. is complete blasphemy. You know they will not flag them, even if they go radioactive in the future.
          osreinstall
      • Re: Don't get to happy to quickly

        You might see similar tactics when Linux becomes popular, but these bundled packages will likely be coming from outside the repositories. Portal installers don't have the same "wizards" that executables have. I can't speak for everyone, but I don't install anything from outside the portal; only exception was the CSS libraries, which are downloaded and installed entirely through the terminal. ;)
        santuccie
        • BTW

          Don't forget that Linux is open source.
          santuccie
    • Every Linux Distro ....

      .... comes with bundled apps. Many are checked on with the default install. I guees you missed that one badly!
      ShadeTree