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January 3, 2009

Bundled with Google Software

I've noticed that many of my favorite Windows applications include the option to download unrelated Google software (mostly Google Toolbar and Google Desktop). Of course, you can easily uncheck the options and bundling Google software is better than installing spyware, but many people install applications by repeatedly clicking "Next" and ignore their boring messages.



If you refuse to install Google Toolbar from an application, shouldn't Google set a flag and stop offering the toolbar in other applications? Bundled software could be related to the application you are installing: IrfanView works well with Picasa, while GomPlayer could integrate a video search feature.

Here's what Google says about bundles:
Many internet users find that over time their computers become loaded with unwanted software - be it adware, spyware or just plain junk. This is because a few applications they installed came bundled with junk, and that junk generated more junk piled higher and deeper. We believe any situation where multiple applications are being installed should be made very clear to users, so that if you were to ask them several months later - "What's this?" - most will know where it came from and why it is there.

Usually there are complex business relationships among the companies participating in a bundle. This can result in well-intentioned companies benefiting from the distribution or revenue generated by software that does not benefit you. Getting paid to distribute, or paying money to be distributed with undesirable software enables more undesirable software. (...) For this reason, we will strive to distribute our software only in bundles where all applications meet the above guidelines, and we think users will benefit if others in our industry do the same.

So if you install an application that bundles Google software, you should know that it respects Google's software principles. Which of your favorite applications bundle Google software and what do you think about this practice?

12 comments:

  1. I hate this kind of bundled software. When I download some software I want **only** to install that sofware. For me It's like adware.

    Also, If It's a software only to try I cancel and look for another.

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  2. Does it mean that Google Toolbar and Google Desktop do not install Google Software Updater on Mac ? That software is installed in the background without anything said to the user.

    http://blog.raamdev.com/2008/12/05/evil-google-secretly-installs-software-update

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  3. Wonderful article. Thanks for raising it.
    This is default-installed with Flash too.
    It's madness - if anyone else installed tracking software into your browser like this, there'd be hell to pay. But for Google, apparently it's fine.

    And let's have a go at Apple too, for installing Safari and Quicktime.

    But at least they don't pretend that they don't do it. I bet Google would rather rewrite their statement above than stop preinstalling the toolbar.

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  4. Well, I think it's kind of annoying. Especially when installing the software is checked off by default. But I don't have a any real problem with the practice as long as it's as transparent as it seems it is. And in this case, I mean, google toolbar isn't even a terrible product now is it?

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  5. If I wanted Google Toolbar or Google Desktop Search, I'd go to Google's website and download it.

    Even still, as Google said, "so that if you were to ask them several months later - "What's this?"", that means they would have an opt-in process. It annoys me that a company that does no evil would chose opt-out instead of opt-in.

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  6. Bundled software sucks ass -- even if Google thinks its cool. If Google and other companies were really cool about the practice, the bundled software would be un-checked by default during installation.

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  7. It's the choice of the company that bundles the software, though, not Google. If it weren't Google products, it would be some other software, whether Yahoo, Microsoft, or even adware.

    If software developers feel they must include bundled software for revenue, I'd rather have them bundle innocuous products like Google Toolbar or Yahoo rather than more disreputable bundles.

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  8. The most applications that I use don't bundle other software, and the ones that do don't bundle Google software.
    I disagree with this practice. If I want an application, I find it, I install it and I use it. I don't like losing my time unchecking unwanted checkboxes while installing my software.

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  9. david.little@sympatico.caApril 9, 2009 at 12:38 PM

    I use google...but every day, it seems, and sometimes multiple times in one day, a box pops up trying to install the google toolbar, which I dont want. I keep clicking 'block'. But how do I stop it continually trying?

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  10. Of course, you can easily unchecked the options and bundling Google software is better than installing spy ware.

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  11. Quote:"We believe any situation where multiple applications are being installed should be made very clear to users, so that if you were to ask them several months later - "What's this?" - most will know where it came from and why it is there."

    Its quite simple. Just untick the checkbox by default. That way newer users who tend to install things by clicking next without reading won't accidently install the software. If google make it perfectly clear as they say they do then users will see the option and choose to install only if they want the software.

    Until thats done i cant take a statement like that seriously.

    ReplyDelete