Thread: Why is all this crapware bundled with free programs?

  1. #1
    Registered User Alpo's Avatar
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    Why is all this crapware bundled with free programs?

    Hello all,

    I've noticed this aggravating trend in free utilities and other small programs that I've needed to download lately coming bundled with unwanted programs.

    The one I've seen most is OpenCandy, coming bundled with ImgBurn and several others I can't remember. Also I've found Conduit toolbars on nearly all the computers I've looked at in the past month (no one even knew it was on their computer, or what it was). Even the new AVG antivirus comes with advertisements to install "Secure Search" which is also crapware.

    I guess what I'm wondering is why? Why would the makers of these programs allow these things to be bundled with their products? It would be easy enough to explain with money, but aren't they losing potential customers?

    Thanks for any explanation, it is really baffling.
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    It's usually because the "crapware" vendor either pays the distributor of the freeware program for distribution, or has some working/commercial relationship.

    I consider it is actually a security concern with some software.

    As an example, Oracle's installation of Java installs the Ask toolbar and (from memory) a scanner from McAfee - neither of which I want installed (I don't use or want the Ask toolbar, and installation of security scanners often conflicts with installation of other security suites). Even worse, these add-ons are installed by default, it is necessary to explicitly opt out to prevent them being installed, and Java's automatic updater will default to installing those unwanted packages without permission.

    The obvious solutions to that were to disable automatic updates (and run the risk of missing urgent security patches) or to not install the product at all. I chose the latter. I also ceased doing any development using Java as well.
    Right 98% of the time, and don't care about the other 3%.

    If I seem grumpy or unhelpful in reply to you, or tell you you need to demonstrate more effort before you can expect help, it is likely you deserve it. Suck it up, Buttercup, and read this, this, and this before posting again.

  3. #3
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    The problem has been well defined here.

    It examines the economics of crapware by looking at InstallMonetizer which, according to the sources, is supported by top-tier SV investors on up to half a million dollars annually. As the author says, it then becomes very hard for programmers around the world, working hard to produce good software, to resist when approached by a company like this with promises of great wealth.

    As the name so well implies, InstallMonitizer is really just a financial venture. It's not a business built around a service for which there was some kind of market demand, or that such a demand could be created, like most businesses are. It's a company built solely for the business of investment and returns. The "service" exists in the form of a monetization scheme based on the way freeware market operates.

    And it's because of companies like this that crapware exist. And, at least until recently (not sure how it is right now) even companies like Oracle caved in to the possibility of wrapping a few millions on crapware for their free line of products. Is Java still shipping with Ask Toolbar?


    EDIT: And btw, I've heard from a source I'll refrain from naming that this is the reason why he doesn't move his software used by quite a few hundreds of thousanths to open source. He can keep making software for free while making some money out of it. The Open Source model, on the other hand isn't compatible with the crapware model. So crapware is insidious in more than one way.
    Last edited by Mario F.; 01-12-2015 at 02:22 AM.
    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  4. #4
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    O_o

    I'm not going to post spammy links, but you aren't the only one troubled by the crap.

    You can pretty easily find scripts, usually driven by "AUTO3", that install popular packages without the crap while also disabling any automatic fluff that would install cap later.

    @Mario: I could probably name one more person.

    Soma
    “Salem Was Wrong!” -- Pedant Necromancer
    “Four isn't random!” -- Gibbering Mouther

  5. #5
    Registered User Alpo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F.
    The problem has been well defined here.
    That was really interesting, thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by grumpy
    It's usually because the "crapware" vendor either pays the distributor of the freeware program for distribution, or has some working/commercial relationship.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F.
    As the name so well implies, InstallMonitizer is really just a financial venture. It's not a business built around a service for which there was some kind of market demand, or that such a demand could be created, like most businesses are. It's a company built solely for the business of investment and returns. The "service" exists in the form of a monetization scheme based on the way freeware market operates.
    So I'm understanding from the article and comments here that developers allow this for monetization purposed, which makes sense.

    It's a bit harder to grasp the motivation of the crapware makers though. If I'm understanding correctly, most of them are interested only in increasing their number of installations, in order to attract investors?

    If true, it reminds me a lot of those soap ( or knife, insurance, makeup, ect) selling 'get rich quick' pyramid schemes that were popular when I was a kid. In those it didn't really matter what you sold, your job was just to convince enough people to join you to give yourself legitimacy.
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    There are always people who will find loopholes to make money independently of the quality of their product. (Existence of something is a rather fundamental quality, and even that is not required in some schemes).

    It comes about because it is possible to get achieve a revenue stream based on activity (number of samples distributed, number of people signed up in a pyramid scheme, number of times a product is installed, amount of data gathered by an installed product that calls home). The thing is, the paying customer is not the end user of the products. This means, in effect, either that the end user [or data about the end user] is the product, or that the end user's resources (network bandwidth, hard drive space) are the product.

    This phenomenon predated the existence of computers, let alone networks, the internet, and software - it is a human phenomenon that people often want more money (or other reward) than they are prepared to work for, so they look for ways to maximise their income for minimum effort, or without having a product that meets claims made about it. It is, however, now easier to achieve a revenue stream by involving the end user with or without their knowledge (e.g. drive-by software downloads, exploiting security holes in buggy products, etc).
    Right 98% of the time, and don't care about the other 3%.

    If I seem grumpy or unhelpful in reply to you, or tell you you need to demonstrate more effort before you can expect help, it is likely you deserve it. Suck it up, Buttercup, and read this, this, and this before posting again.

  7. #7
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    This means, in effect, either that the end user is the product, or that the end user's resources are the product.
    O_o

    A popular package ([Edit]I removed the name because the developers do not deserve any advertisement despite claiming to have eliminated any nefarious code.[/Edit]) used to install a Bitcoin miner in concert with the service allowing the distributor to harvest money from the client's machine.

    I just wanted to give a definite example of monetizing a third-party resource.

    Soma
    “Salem Was Wrong!” -- Pedant Necromancer
    “Four isn't random!” -- Gibbering Mouther

  8. #8
    Registered User Alpo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap View Post
    O_o

    A popular package ([Edit]I removed the name because the developers do not deserve any advertisement despite claiming to have eliminated any nefarious code.[/Edit]) used to install a Bitcoin miner in concert with the service allowing the distributor to harvest money from the client's machine.

    I just wanted to give a definite example of monetizing a third-party resource.

    Soma
    Wow that's nuts, it's a good example of short term thinking as well. I don't know much about Bitcoin, I did a few hours reading on it after hearing this though. It seems like a good target for this type of resource theft, along with email spamming or other bot programs.

    Then again, some people might agree to the resource loss (if scheduled correctly), for a portion of the return. That is if networking your resources together increases the efficiency of the mining. (I don't understand the nature of it honestly, to me it sounds like that "winning lottery number" program on the general boards a while back.)
    WndProc = (2[b] || !(2[b])) ? SufferNobly : TakeArms;

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