Just days following the announcement that Microsoft is to buy Skype for a massive $8.5 billion, the company has begun pushing crapware called 'EasyBits Go' onto Windows systems without consent or permission.
Bradley Wint of Blog Technical first noticed the shenanigans:
This morning I was notified that Skype needed third-party access to an executable called easybitsgo.exe, and I was quite suspicious because I knew I had not installed in applications recently and saw no other dialog boxes with information about this app. I did a virus scan immediately thinking my system may have been over-ridden with malware similar to those fake anti-virus apps.
It turns out the program is legit and was actually installed via Skype itself. After doing a quick check , it seems the EasyBits company produces a number of game apps and is supported by many major brands including HP, Dell, Acer and Skype among others, however I did not give a care since I was not interested in having such program installed on my machine. Finally, after checking the Skype forums, it turns out many users reported a similar circumstance.
'This is a gross violation of trust on part of skype. I enjoy the use of skype as it allows me to keep in contact with my girlfriend who lives out of province. However, I will be removing it if there is no way to remove this intrusive injection of software.'
'Completely unacceptable Skype! I'm sure this must be illegal? Was GO crapware condoned by skype, or is it an exploit? Either way a public apology is in order!'
'Kinda strange that just over 2 weeks after Microsoft buys Skype this stuff starts. Kinda weird... might be some sort of connection there....'
'This app is quite aggressive and it's alarming to know that it is operating through skype. It's a violation of our rights and needs to be addressed by the managers of skype.'
'What the hell is going on today? I received a pop-upmessage in Skype with a question if I want to install some games. I closed this window with X. After some time I got another message in Skype - "EasyBitsGo.exe wants to use Skype". What is Easy Bits Go? I closed this window again. When I went to computer's control panel, I discovered a program Easybits which I never have installed. I uninstalled this program from control panel but when I went to C:/ Program Files I discovered a folder "Easy Bits" with today's date. I had to remove this folder manually.'
Wow, nice one Skype, way to annoy customers.
It has come to our attention that concerns have been expressed from Skype users over the update delivered to Skype Extras for Windows by Easybits software.
The software is provided by our partner EasyBits, and is part of the Skype Extras Manager. The Extras Manager has been included in Windows releases of our software since 2006. This latest update from EasyBits included elements of their desktop games organizer in error, but it neither installs nor un-installs correctly. This update has been disabled while we work with them to correct the problems and user experience.
Skype works closely with its partners to ensure that our users receive the best possible Skype experience and is working with EasyBits to ensure this issue does not happen again.
In my mind this statement doesn't go far enough to explain how Skype allowed rogue code that 'neither installs nor un-installs correctly' into the Skype download package. This is part of the explanation that's missing, and it's certainly worrying that such dodgy code could make its way into the download.
Uninstalling this crapware is also a pain in the rear. There are instructions offered up by Blog Technical.
Skype has removed the download. No word yet on when an updated download will be available or whether a removal tool will be offered to those wanting to get rid of the EasyBits Go download.
While the deal with Microsoft is a way off from being finalized, and Microsoft management will be in no way responsible for this goof-up, it is very strange that Skype would be so careless with user's operating systems at this time, especially when that operating system is owned by the new owners. It's a careless move that is likely to make those ware of a Microsoft takeover of Skype even more wary.