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Browzar drops Overture after privacy backlash

Ajaz Ahmed, founder of Browzar, has responded to adware allegations by ditching Yahoo's sponsored results search engine
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Written by David Meyer, Freelance reporter on

The man behind private surfing tool Browzar has responded to mounting criticism by assuring users that the search tool on the application's homepage will be dropped immediately.

A major element of the backlash since Browzar's launch last week has been related to its utilisation of Yahoo's Overture search engine, which has outraged many users by burying impartial results behind pages of sponsored results.

As a result, some have called Browzar "adware", a claim that Ajaz Ahmed — founder of Freeserve and now Browzar — has denied.

"We don't do adware. We have Overture and people are not happy with the way that they show their results," Ahmed told ZDNet UK on Monday. "As a response to that, the engine is going to be changed." He added that Ask would be deployed as the new engine .

The problems extend beyond Overture, which is the same engine used by Web sites such as Orange and Lycos. Bloggers such as Scott Hanselman have pointed out that Browzar does not erase all traces of activity as it claims, leaving some pages in the cache of Internet Explorer (IE), the browser on which the Browzar application depends.

Ahmed told ZDNet UK that he had been "corresponding with Scott". He said Browzar was "currently investigating that situation" and would "come up with an update to fix it".

Other inconsistencies are also apparent. For example, logging into a Google Account through its homepage then shutting the Browzar application leaves you still logged into Google if you then visit it in IE. "It's still in beta form," Ahmed insisted. "We'd be more than happy to listen to anyone and make appropriate changes".

He also hit back at criticism that Browzar was being touted as a browser, when it is in fact an IE shell application. Although the application's Web site generally avoids calling it a browser, it is referred to as such in some parts of the site's FAQ section. "We've not tried to hide the fact that it's an IE shell," said Ahmed. "If we need to make that more explicit then we'll certainly change that."

Browzar — which is free to download or run from the company's Web site — is designed to offer a private browsing experience by avoiding the retention of any cache or autocomplete data.

Ahmed called the response since last week's launch "overwhelming" and claimed the company had already received thousands of congratulatory emails from satisfied users.

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