download.com “responds” to bad press about their malware

Sort of, anyway. They don’t touch the malware side of the issue at all. I got this in my inbox just now as part of their “Software Publisher Newsletter,” written by their Vice President & General Manager, Sean Murphy:

We are on the verge of fulfilling our vision of coming to market with an installer model that delivers files faster and more efficiently to users, while enabling developers to a) opt-in to the Installer, b) influence the offers tied to their files, c) gain reporting insight into the download funnel, and d) share in the revenue generated by the installer.

The ability to opt-in is not a feature request. It’s a Day 1 feature requirement. Download.com has been making money on other people’s software by barfing malware all over their customer’s systems (and by “their” I’m referring to the software authors).

Consider the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) that Microsoft has as part of Windows, Office, and numerous other software they release. It gathers information about how you use the software (e.g. which features you used, which buttons you clicked), and reports it to Microsoft. This clearly has enormous privacy implications. But, you have to opt-in to use it. The software asks clearly and politely if you’ll let them do this. The data is recorded in an anonymous manner. Things like permission and anonymity are not “features.” They are requirements.

Oh, and Microsoft actually uses that data to improve the software they release. Bazinga.

He continues:

First, on the press that surfaced yesterday: a developer expressed anger and frustration about our current model and how his file was being bundled. This was a mistake on our part and we apologize to the developer and user communities for the unrest it caused. As a rule, we do not bundle open source software and in addition to taking this developers file out of the installer flow, we have gone in and re-checked all open source files in our catalog.

Ok, whatever Sean. Nobody believes you. You’re not sorry about what you did, you’re sorry that people noticed and cared. You care that the bad press crossed a quantitative threshold, and that it just might affect your quarterly profit reports.

I wanted to verify that they had indeed fixed their catalog of open source software. VLC Player is, in fact, not being packed with their download wrapper (earlier blogs reported it was being bundled). Same goes for GIMP, GIMP Portable, and GTK+ 2 Runtime Environment (which are the first 3 hits if you search for “GIMP”). So from this tiny sample size of 4, it seems he is at least telling the truth for once. (I’d provide links to their pages on download.com, but I’d really rather not contribute to their page rank in any way.)

You can read the whole thing, if you’re really bored, over at their website.

7 thoughts on “download.com “responds” to bad press about their malware

    • Antonio says:

      Is possible to tell them to remove your program from Download.com? I think it is worse for you to be associated with malware or with a complicated setup experience than to lose some downloads.

        • Lance McKnight says:

          I have to agree with your assessment. That is how I discovered Paint.NET instead of finding, um, alternative ways to get my hands on Photoshop. The review for PDN was so positive it spurned me to investigate further into PDN as a graphic tool for me, and I haven’t regretted my decision.

          It is regrettable, though, they are basically “forcing” their malware into the file setup manager. I have noticed they try to force Bing as my search engine, something I do not appreciate. It forces me to have to go to the Control Panel to remove the said malware or whatever else they felt like adding. Kudos to you for pursuing this matter and kicking some cans.

  1. FAQer says:

    And the problem is not that much in a single isolated case but in status-quo created, reference and business model on the internet.

    When I told my employer that he cpuldn’t do the same (and similar scams) he called me crazy. Everybody does it

  2. Mike Edward Moras (e-sushi™) says:

    Brothersoft.com, Download.com… who’s next up in line to ruin the name of use devs?

    At the end of the day, you’re best bet is to host your own downloads. Then, at least you know what people are actually downloading.

    Thumbs up for your coding efforts btw. When I first saw paint.NET emerge at the horizon, I expected it to “drown in the crowd” of image editors. Today, I’m happy to admit I was wrong back then – as I can see you’re doing just fine! 😉

    Cheers

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