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Download.com Now Wraps Downloads In Bloatware 397

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-not-want dept.
MrSeb writes "At Download.com, page designs have been repeatedly tweaked over the years to push its updater software (now called TechTracker), TrialPay offers, and the site's mailing list. Bothersome, perhaps, but certainly not inexcusable. They've got to make money off the site somehow, after all, and banner ads don't always do the job. Now, things have taken a turn for the worse: Cnet has begun wrapping downloads in its own proprietary installer. Not only will this cause the reputation of free, legitimate software to be tarred by Cnet's bloatware toolbars, homepage changes, and new default search engines — but Cnet is even claiming that their installer wrapping is 'for the users.'"
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Download.com Now Wraps Downloads In Bloatware

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:12PM (#37169366)

    Jeez, you expect this stuff out of fly-by-night crapware sites. But even I trusted CNET (until now, anyway), and I'm about as cynical a bastard as there is when it comes to downloading software apps off the net.

    So, is Tucows still around? I have occasionally used SourceForge, but I never felt confident they were policing their binaries very well (that could be an unfair presumption on my part).

    • by Immostlyharmless (1311531) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:14PM (#37169392)
      Last time I tried Tucows, same thing. Some crap installer kept popping up. God only knows what the hell it installed on my system. :o(
      • by Moryath (553296) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:19PM (#37169462)

        More and more download sites are doing this.

        Hell, even reputable companies are doing this. I see it all the time. We wind up cleaning off "Ask Toolbar" and other sorts of shitty crapware all the time, and it wandered in as a tagalong with Adobe Reader and Java updates!

        • by russotto (537200) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:23PM (#37169510) Journal

          Hell, even reputable companies are doing this. I see it all the time. We wind up cleaning off "Ask Toolbar" and other sorts of shitty crapware all the time, and it wandered in as a tagalong with Adobe Reader and Java updates!

          OK, so that's Adobe and Oracle... what were the reputable companies doing this?

          • by ge7 (2194648) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:26PM (#37169548)
            Well, Google does it with their toolbar for IE, Google Desktop Search and Chrome. I think most slashdotters think Google as somewhat reputable company.
            • by NevarMore (248971) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:45PM (#37169768) Homepage Journal

              Well, Google does it with their toolbar for IE, Google Desktop Search and Chrome. I think most slashdotters think Google as somewhat reputable company.

              Well thats just rude. How dare Google install a toolbar when I download the Google Toolbar for IE!

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by ge7 (2194648)
                No, they pay of other software developers and companies to include their toolbar with their software. Just see this [google.com] or search for "google toolbar affiliate".
              • by grapeape (137008)

                Um its not the toolbar he is complaining about its the attempt to install google desktop search and chrome when you try to install it.

          • by PIBM (588930)

            I`d side with you about apple not being a reputable company, as they also keep bundling Quicktime with other downloads (Safari ? iTunes ?). Anyway..

            • by sglewis100 (916818) on Monday August 22, 2011 @03:30PM (#37170346)

              I`d side with you about apple not being a reputable company, as they also keep bundling Quicktime with other downloads (Safari ? iTunes ?). Anyway..

              The default link for Safari for Windows [apple.com] does not include QuickTime, although you can optionally click a button and choose to receive it. iTunes comes with QuickTime... mostly because it requires QuickTime. PS: iTunes also comes with Bonjour for Windows... mostly because it uses Bonjour.

              On the Mac, of course, QuickTime, iTunes and Safari are already pre-installed.

        • by djdanlib (732853)

          The Yahoo! toolbar used to come with Java, did they change that recently?? Also, I never saw anything come in with a Reader auto-update, so I wonder if you're downloading via the website.

          Someone needs to write a very simple, no-frills application that removes crapware. Not malware, just crapware. You know, similar to Spybot, or whatever. Or perhaps write something that intercepts the installers, and pretends like they succeeded. Then someone can write a GPO to push it onto domain members at corporations, an

          • The Yahoo! toolbar used to come with Java

            In Soviet Russia, Java comes with Yahoo toolbar!

            Oh wait, and in the US too.

        • by _0xd0ad (1974778) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:58PM (#37169914) Journal

          I cleaned the Ask toolbar off one of my friends computers after it broke the new tab shortcut and menu item in Firefox. Yeah. "...huh?" The only way to get a new tab was to drag something into the tab bar or open a link in a new tab.

          (found that Ask was the culprit by disabling extensions one at a time until the Ctrl-T shortcut started working again)

          Oh well, nothing of value was lost. I probably would have cleaned it off anyway, but I wanted to know why the shortcut was broken. And it actually surprised me that it was so poorly written that it broke stuff like that.

    • by larry bagina (561269) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:14PM (#37169394) Journal
      Use sourceforge. You can just download the code, review it, and compile it yourself with proper optimization and architecture flags.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, maybe you shouldn't spend so much time blocking banner ads? Were you really that surprised that it will just move sites to use other ways to make money with advertisements, or move them to pay model?

      • by djdanlib (732853)

        Sometimes I'd rather that my money and brainspace goes only to the companies whose products I wish to use. I don't want a million me-too widget bandwagon jumpers getting a few cents when I have no choice in the matter and no interest in their products. But I guess that's advertising... At least I can still turn off my TV in the middle of an advertisement.

      • by Bozzio (183974)

        that only makes sense if people who block banners would, otherwise, be the same people to click on them.

        I've been browsing the web since around 1997, and blocking banners since about 2007. I can confidently say that in those 10 years with banners I probably only clicked 3-5 banners.

        Obviously I should assume my personal experience is representative of banner-blockers as a whole, but do believe I represent a majority of us. Why? I think if people are tech-savvy enough to block banner ads they are also savv

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          I hosts-blocked most ad sites on my girlfriend's computer when she started complaining about the web sites she uses being so slow; most of the time was spent waiting for some ad site or some tracking site like Google analytics.

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        I don't care. Advertising is not the way to recover your costs. Continuing to insist upon it just perpetuates the "arms race."

        You implement advertising method X, and I block it until you implement method Y, and I block that, ad nauseam and beyond.

        Support your sites with hard income. Don't have the hard income to spare? Ask for donations or don't host the site. Part of this is that the costs for bandwidth and hosting is way out of proportion - it's fine for the big guys, but screws the little guys. This is d

      • Well, maybe you shouldn't spend so much time blocking banner ads? Were you really that surprised that it will just move sites to use other ways to make money with advertisements, or move them to pay model?

        That gives me a good laugh. Insightful in the modern world is colluding against the least colourful guy at the poker table as if he isn't even there.

        Now if I were to disable my putrid content blocker, the first thing that happens is that I become less effective at my day job, because my mind has trouble f

    • by uniquename72 (1169497) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:21PM (#37169490)
      I always try to use Filehippo. [filehippo.com] They're the only download site where I've never seen an ad deceptively disguised as a "Download" button.
    • No, it's CBS (Score:5, Informative)

      by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:23PM (#37169516) Homepage

      c|net is long gone, they are now CBS Interactive.

    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:47PM (#37169790) Journal

      Your best bet is Major Geeks. I have found the selection at the Major to be incredible, both of the latest and older stuff, and they don't try to push the crapola like CNET does now.

      Heck i'm surprised it took /. this long to run a tory about it, as I've been warning folks to stay away from CNET for a few weeks now. if I'd have known it had been run I'd have put it up awhile back but I just figured somebody else had done it and I didn't want to dupe.

      But if you want the "basics" your best bet is Ninite [ninite.com] which always has the latest CCleaner, flash, Java, klite, etc and NO TOOLBARS in software like CCleaner, all automated and easy peasy, and for the more offbeat stuff you can't beat the Major. those are my two "go to" sites now that CNET has become just another adware spammer.

      • by Machtyn (759119)
        If I had mod points...

        I second the MajorGeeks [majorgeeks.com] suggestion. They have a lot of very useful utilities and such, even applications that are old or archived. Then they present you with a main link or alternative links (sometimes to third parties). Pages are clean, utilities are ranked, screenshots (if any) are linked. It's just a nice site.
    • Sigh... I am all for companies making money and profit. However sites such as download.com were suppose to be sites we could trust the downloads from. Trust on the internet is a hard thing to get, and to toss it away like that is a great disservice to itself.

    • Most useful software can be found at Oldversion [oldversion.com].

    • But even I trusted CNET (until now, anyway), and I'm about as cynical a bastard as there is when it comes to downloading software apps off the net.

      Yeah, same here...I discovered this yesterday when I was trying to find a good freeware CD/DVD burning program. I thought maybe it was just that particular piece of software, as the other stuff looked like crap. Guess not. That's too damn bad, I used to use Cnet quite a bit back in the day, but they've really sold out it seems...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thue (121682)

      Get a Linux distro like Ubuntu, if you can live without windows. Their package repository contains gigabytes of software, with practically perfect install and uninstall, and totally malware-risk-free.

      This is one of the main reasons I run Linux instead of Windows.

  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:18PM (#37169430)

    The last few Windows apps I've downloaded from there came with their own "INSTALL TOOLBAR FOO" now in the installer. PDFCreator is one example.

    This is why we're headed towards managed computing and app stores. The game is just too dirty. Joe User has no idea whats going on. His computer has a dozen toolbars and all he's done is follow his geeky friend's advice to install stuff like PDFCreator or other GPL products. I'd rather just be microbilled 20 cents or whatever they make per install. Shame no one has properly cracked the microbilling nut.

    • by Elbart (1233584)
      Sure, but in your cases it's not SF's fault.
      • by gad_zuki! (70830)

        That's true, but if you want to avoid the "toolbar" bullshit there's no safe haven. Heck, when I'm not using SF and something is hosted independently there's no shortage of ads with "download" buttons designed to fool the end user.

        Its just dirty. This is one of the last nails in the non-controlled/non-app store coffin. Oh well, I think if done right, this is a change that'll help people.

        • That's true, but if you want to avoid the "toolbar" bullshit there's no safe haven.

          'bullshit'? I understand that people like to have their software free (mostly as in beer, the speech tends to be an added bonus), but calling the desire for the developer to get a minor kickback from the occasional toolbar install/default homepage switch/etc. 'bullshit' is a bit silly as long as it's optional.

          • by gad_zuki! (70830)

            Its bullshit because most of these toolbars cause browser instability (lets ignore the massive privacy issues). So what these developers are proposing is that I can have their application, but at the cost of my browser running like shit going forward. I don't consider damaging an unrelated piece of software on my machine a reasonable exchange.

            Not to mention, they can sell ads to make money. Ads on the webpage that hosts the installer as well as in app ads. Its not toolbars or being broke. Lets stop pretendi

          • by Jawnn (445279)
            If it was clearly presented as an option, I would agree. Alas, all too often, it is not. Rather, it is presented in a fashion that can only be described, charitably, as sneaky, and that is bullshit.
    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:23PM (#37169520) Journal

      That's not sourceforge's fault any more than getting an infected crack from TPB would be TPB's fault. Sourceforge just hosts whatever the hell you upload.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Sourceforge just hosts whatever the hell you upload.

        Well, that's part of the problem, isn't it? People need a place where they can go to download software with at least a modicum of confidence that they're not getting malware or bloatware. That's the appeal of walled gardens like Apple's app store. If all the more open download sites continue to pulls stunts like CNET, or to just take a "hand-offs" approach like Sourceforge, the walled gardens are going to look more and more appealing. I'd hate to think that my mom may ask me one day "Where can I go to get t

  • by asto21 (1797450) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:18PM (#37169446)
    I haven't downloaded anything from them in at least half a decade. Just out of curiosity, what has anyone gone to their site to download in recent times?
  • I stopped using CNET a very long time ago. Sourceforge.net and Filehippo.com are about all I trust anymore. This really doesn't surprise me, the reason I stopped using CNET is that I got infected downloading something from their site years ago. The only thing I hate trying to download and find are Microsoft compatible drivers for old hardware companies that have long since bit the dust. I usually try to convince those end users to switch to linux after I confirm the kernel has drivers for their crappy o
  • Tucows.com to the rescue
  • Apple already has an App Store for the Mac, and Microsoft will soon as well for Windows 8.

    Moves like this will drive users in droves to download applications from a known, clean source.

    • Let's call a spade a spade here: App Store = Repository
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Who you callin' a "Spade"?!?
        Damn, racists are everywhere.
      • App Store = Repository

        Of course. Linux (and other UNIX) users have had an App Store, many of them, for ages.

        In a way CNET was as well - many users used CNET to get a variety of applications, shareware and freeware. But what I'm saying here is that things like this will drive more people to first party app stores over the secondary sources...

        Linux users will just carry on before as they have enough sense and knowledge to know where to go for applications.

    • Not to mention all the Linux distributions which have had something very similar to an app store for, what, more than a decade? Except that they have much more sane policies regarding inclusion in the "app store" and extending the app store with secondary repositories.

    • by isorox (205688) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:35PM (#37169640) Homepage Journal

      Apple already has an App Store for the Mac, and Microsoft will soon as well for Windows 8.

      Moves like this will drive users in droves to download applications from a known, clean source.

      I've been a fan of a collection of app stores since I moved to Debian 2.2, 11 years ago, nice to see the non-oss world catching up.

    • by mark-t (151149) <`markt' `at' `lynx.bc.ca'> on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:40PM (#37169714) Journal
      One of the biggest problems with the Mac App store, IMO, is that it apparently cannot recognize applications which have been purchased before the app store was available, and thus cannot upgrade them via the app store. It would be nice if there were a way to tie prior specific purchases (that one still has record of) with one's Apple ID so that they could use the app store in this way... and have a relatively smoother upgrade path to follow in the future.
  • Just move to another, or go to sourceforge. Who needs this crap?

  • by YodasEvilTwin (2014446) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:20PM (#37169478) Homepage

    3. Is my direct download URL still available?

    Yes. Right under the main "Download Now" button is the direct HTTP download URL which registered CNET members can access.

    http://cnet-upload.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/2064 [custhelp.com]

    • Registered non-idiots, that is. Use a throwaway address. But being a non-idiot you knew that, right?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Right under the main "Download Now" button is the direct HTTP download URL which registered CNET members can access.

      So I need to register with them to bypass their installer? Oh great... :(

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      Non-idiots and people who register on CNET sites are mutually exclusive.

    • You forgot the more relevant bit:

      5. Can I opt out of the CNET Download.com Installer?

      Yes. If you would like to opt out of the CNET Download.com Installer you can sign up for a Premium subscription or PPD promotion, both of which are being excluded at this time.

  • Who actually downloads stuff from download.com anymore?

  • by MonsterTrimble (1205334) <monstertrimble.hotmail@com> on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:22PM (#37169504)
    So now when I have to deal with Windows boxes and install stuff on there, I can't use the only site I've used in a decade. God Dammit To Hell. The sad part is that Ubuntu's Software Center and all the rest of it's ilk owes at least a tip of the hat to Download.com's ratings system. it's helped me immeasurably with the ratings systems. Although I never trusted the Editor's ratings - too easy to pay off. The user's ratings were usually right on the money.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Use Ninite. http://ninite.com/

      Adware-free bulk installer. Pick the apps you want, download one installer, start it, come back later with everything installed.

  • Premium? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by superdave80 (1226592) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:37PM (#37169670)
    From upload.com:

    If you would like to opt out of the CNET Download.com Installer you can sign up for a Premium subscription or PPD promotion, both of which are being excluded at this time.

    If find it hilarious that they are talking about how this is 'for the users' and such a great thing, yet the 'premium' subscriptions don't have to deal with this bullshit. If it's sooooo great, shouldn't it be available only to premium users?

  • Great, an installer to handle the installers. Yet another layer of crapness.

    Now people know how I feel about installers in general. We shouldn't even have to have them. Some of the best apps you can get are single files (not even zipped), and they work just great with no 100 step install processes in sight. Okay you need to specify the download location, but that's about it, and with a purely Metadata filesystem, we wouldn't even need to do that.

    Files should be unified in a single folder with everything sel

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Okay, shared DLLs save a bit of memory, but in this day and age, that's not an issue anymore.

      Yes, this is a brilliant idea. Instead of having one copy of foobar.dll on your system which can be updated when there's a security fix, you now have fifty different versions of foobar.dll all over the system in different installation directories, so some programs using it will be safe and others will have major security holes and some will work if you replace the DLL with the new one and some will break.

      Ah, the joy of Windows and its 'install anything anywhere, I don't care' philosophy.

      • by Twinbee (767046)

        Sure for the *really* important DLLs, but those are going to be on Windows by default for everyone. Yeah keep a library of those.

        Instead the reality is that everyone has their own pet DLLs which they just have to infect the system with. You end up with a million DLLs and bits of preferences (which are usually duplicated beyond belief) in another thousand places. But by all means, have fun with your backup, and trying to make each program independent without going to a dozen different places to find the exac

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          Sure for the *really* important DLLs, but those are going to be on Windows by default for everyone.

          No, for any DLL that's common between applications. For example, a few years back there was some important security hole in zlib, and I found about a dozen different installations of zlib.dll on my Windows PC; either I replaced them and hope the application still worked, or lived with a known security hole.

          If there was one zlib.dll on the system with a sensible versioning methodology, then updating it once would have fixed them all and the versioning would ensure that they didn't break.

          • by Twinbee (767046)

            Okay maybe at a push for something like that if you're paranoid.

            However, 99.9999% of software publishers don't make anything nearly on that scale of generality. For the rest, we should keep our own self-contained folder thank you very much.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday August 22, 2011 @02:48PM (#37169808)
    What's a CNET?
  • by stegre (464969) on Monday August 22, 2011 @03:29PM (#37170338)

    I just sent the following email to Download.com:

    Please be advised that your your "CNET Download.com installer" is in violation of the terms of my software. Section 4a) permits distribution UNMODIFIED copies only. Additionally, section 4c) does not permit "bundling" with other software components.

    Please remove my software from your site immediately, as the reputation of my application is now at risk.

    Sincerely,

    Steven Greenberg
    Author, GSpot Codec Appliance

    • by rabun_bike (905430) on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:23PM (#37171076)
      Let me know if you get a response. I had to literally change a credit card number to get Download.com to stop billing me once. Several years ago I created a Download.com account and paid for something. I really cannot remember what other than the software listing. Later I simply attempted to cancel the account but there is no way to cancel. I think I sent 5 support messages and did 2 credit card charge backs before I had to report my card stolen to get them to stop charging me. For several years I would get messages that my card failed to be charged. Yea, no kidding. That was by design.
    • by Kalriath (849904)

      FYI, you might want to check for your software on Brothersoft.com as well - they also do this, but they don't require you to submit your software.

  • by sunfly (1248694) on Monday August 22, 2011 @03:54PM (#37170656)

    Since the switch I have stopped downloading anything from them. If you click the link to show all information it usually has the developers site, and many have the clean download available directly.

    Is there a quality download site left?

  • by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Monday August 22, 2011 @06:04PM (#37172362)
    You can configure Google to just omit the domain from search results - problem solved. Not like there is a shortage of download sites such that users should actually consider putting up with this kind of crap.

    Now that I've made the world a better place on a Monday, what should I do?

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