/>
X

Foistware: how software companies push software you don't need

I keep running into a sleazy trick that some software vendors play, and I’ve finally reached the breaking point. Software companies large and small try to make a quick buck by tricking their customers into installing software they don’t need. I’m experienced enough to bypass this stuff most of the time, but many of my friends and family members aren’t. And guess who gets the call when some add-on or toolbar has slowed their system to a crawl?I call it foistware, and I’ve decided it’s time to name and shame the worst purveyors of this plague.

|
ed-bott.jpg
|
6225997.png
1 of 13 Ed Bott/ZDNet

If you go to Adobe.com to download a copy of the Flash Player, you might get something extra. Using Internet Explorer, you'll be offered this Google toolbar. See how the check box is already selected? That's what makes it foistware. If you accept the default installation options, the unrelated third-party program is installed.

For more details, see "Adobe and Skype top my Foistware Hall of Shame."

6225998.png
2 of 13 Ed Bott/ZDNet

I'm not a big fan of registry cleaners, and I don't recommend this one. But give IZArc credit for presenting this choice to its customers. No option is selected by default, and the installation can't continue until you make a choice. (Hint: Don't Install is the option I recommend.)

For more details, see "Adobe and Skype top my Foistware Hall of Shame."

6225999.png
3 of 13 Ed Bott/ZDNet

I captured this screen shot in September 2010, also using IZArc. Notice that the default option selected here is Do Not Install. If you're going to pre-select an option on behalf of the user, this is the correct approach.

For more details, see "Adobe and Skype top my Foistware Hall of Shame."

6226000.png
4 of 13 Ed Bott/ZDNet

See that button at the bottom of this dialog box? The one labeled "Options"? Trust me, you want to click it. You'll see why when you turn to the next image in this gallery.

For more details, see "Adobe and Skype top my Foistware Hall of Shame."

6226001.png
5 of 13 Ed Bott/ZDNet

Clicking the Options button opens this dialog box, where you can see that Skype was about to install add-ons to both Internet Explorer and Chrome. These add-ons can cause your browser to crash, can slow down the opening of page, and change the appearance of phone numbers on web pages. Most people don't want or need these things, and yet Skype installs them automatically.

For more details, see "Adobe and Skype top my Foistware Hall of Shame."

6226002.png
6 of 13 Ed Bott/ZDNet

Why is your browser mysteriously running at a snail's pace? Ask Skype, which includes plug-ins and toolbars that aren't needed to run the software.

For more details, see "Adobe and Skype top my Foistware Hall of Shame."

6226003.png
7 of 13 Ed Bott/ZDNet

Ask.com has had a checkered history, and this sort of installation is one reason why. If you accept the default options when you install this program, your home page and search engine will be changed, and you'll get a new toolbar that could slow down your browser or cause it to crash. 

For more details, see "Adobe and Skype top my Foistware Hall of Shame."

6226004.png
8 of 13 Ed Bott/ZDNet

The publisher of this otherwise useful program says most people install this recommended "search enhancement." But how can you make an informed choice when you don't even know the name of the add-on, much less who made it or what it does. But if you accept the defaults, you'll find out immediately, because the add-on will be installed for you.

For more details, see "Adobe and Skype top my Foistware Hall of Shame."

6226025.png
9 of 13 Ed Bott/ZDNet

uTorrent is my favorite BitTorrent client, but it's a shame that they have to partner with Microsoft on this bit of foistware. All three options are selected here, which means not only do you get a new toolbar, you also get your home page and default search engine replaced unless you manually clear those check boxes.

For more details, see "Adobe and Skype top my Foistware Hall of Shame."

6226440.png
10 of 13 Ed Bott/ZDNet

Oh, the irony! CCleaner is designed for cleaning crapware. But its installation program adds a browser toolbar.

For more details, see "Adobe and Skype top my Foistware Hall of Shame."

6226441.png
11 of 13 Ed Bott/ZDNet

The Foxit PDF reader is a popular alternative to Adobe's Reader. But this installation dialog box is particularly confusing in the way it tries to install the Ask toolbar. A nontechnical user might think that clicking Decline means that the program installation stops. And of course it wants to change the home page and search engines.

For more details, see "Adobe and Skype top my Foistware Hall of Shame."

6226442.png
12 of 13 Ed Bott/ZDNet

Yes, the venerable RealPlayer is still around, and although it's not nearly as intrusive as it was in its dark days a decade ago, it still tries to make a few bucks by adding the Google toolbar.

For more details, see "Adobe and Skype top my Foistware Hall of Shame."

6226788.png
13 of 13 Ed Bott/ZDNet

When you install the DivX video codec and player, this Norton package is preselected for installation as well. If you clear the check box, the button on the bottom turns from Agree to Next.

For more details, see "Adobe and Skype top my Foistware Hall of Shame."

Related Galleries

The Nightmare in Silicon Valley: 8 horror technologies that should scare you to death
try.jpg

Related Galleries

The Nightmare in Silicon Valley: 8 horror technologies that should scare you to death

2019's tech, security, and authentication trends
Tech chart graph stats

Related Galleries

2019's tech, security, and authentication trends

Five Brazilian tech startups you could be working for
tuv8441.jpg

Related Galleries

Five Brazilian tech startups you could be working for

All the Chromium-based browsers
Chromium

Related Galleries

All the Chromium-based browsers

20 best apps and gadgets for replacing your assistant (that aren't named Siri)
assistanttile.jpg

Related Galleries

20 best apps and gadgets for replacing your assistant (that aren't named Siri)

The best travel tech of 2017
traveltechtravelmate.jpg

Related Galleries

The best travel tech of 2017

The 20 best office spaces we've ever seen
killerofficebarbarian-group.jpg

Related Galleries

The 20 best office spaces we've ever seen