Beware of the ad-bundled freeware

In the last few years I've recognized that many popular freeware applications have included ad-bundles into their installers. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, these are freeware applications which can be downloaded and used without any restrictions but during the installation process there is a step where an "app-bar" or "browser-addon" for a better user experience is offered for installing and enabled by default. Although, this bar does nothing more than just add a search-bar to your browser or/and redirect the default homepage to an ad-supported page which, most of the time, just redirects its searches just to Google or Bing.

But almost always it is possible to avoid the installation of these ad-addons. Either during some (sometimes not very logical) de-selecting during the installation process or by downloading a different and, most of the time, almost hidden "light"-version from the homepage.

Some candidates from the former category, where you have to disagree or not accept licenses for the ad-supplement during the installation, are for example:

  • Foxit PDF Reader (Ask.com toolbar)
  • Winamp (Winamp Search(r) )

And applications which secretly provide an ad-free version are:

  • SuMo (using the red-stroked R/K-icon on the download-page)
  • CCleaner (using the "slim" version from the builds page)

I completely understand the freeware applications need for some funding, but what I just cannot stand are those sneaky attempts to get the ad-ware placed on the customers computers. I have been called for support to computers, where the Internet Explorer took almost a minute to start up and when finished had almost one third of its screen filled with various search-bars and rating-tools which suggest "interesting" websites.

Instead of having to take care during every installation, I'd rather have a way to encourage users for support like Avira does (small ad-popup, once per virus-definition update). Another clever way is how the DonationCoder.com site uses for its tools (which I already talked about more than four years ago) where you're presented with a small popup once per application start and where you can get a time-limited no-ad license (ie. for six months) for free from the website.

Please dear freeware-developers, consider such alternatives more in the future!

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