Out of all the talk of viruses, trojan horses, rootkits, spyware, adware, and so forth came the very helpful terms “malware” or “badware,” to encompass all of the harmful software out there. It might try to delete all your files, steal your credit card data, or just display advertisements and garbage all over the place.

But a pet peeve: if your program tries to install toolbars in my web browsers, and those options are checked by default, I consider your program to be badware. It’s not as bad as a virus, sure. But it’s trying to foist unwanted crap on my computer.

The problem is that all sorts of otherwise-good programs are guilty of this. Apple’s updater, used to keep iTunes current, is notorious for trying to get people to install Safari, by having it checked by the default. Last time I installed CCleaner and Defraggler, I think they tried something similar. And all of this stuff makes me lose respect for these companies. If I’m installing an update to Java, what does the Yahoo Toolbar have to do with anything? It’s been years, but I think Quicken gave me a bunch of icons for unwanted services, too.

I think most of these companies end up getting paid in some manner by getting people to install this crap. This is really shady. If you want me to install a relevant toolbar, you can give me the option, but it shouldn’t be on by default. But when I have to jump through hoops to not install something that’s completely unrelated to your product? I consider your software “badware,” and I lose a lot of respect for your company.

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