Brian's Blog

…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World

Bundled Software – opt-out

It’s easy to miss those extra check boxes, or even the one’s they hide below the OK button – you just want to quickly install a simple piece of software… click click click… and damn, you’ve ended up with a whole list of other stuff you didn’t want.

I have a copy of the VLC Player installation file on a memory stick and this week when I plugged it into a client’s computer their security software flagged it up as a potential threat – I recognised the .exe and ignored it. Now I just plugged my memory stick into my own computer, something I’ve done many times before with this file on, and now Microsoft Security Essentials has decided to deal with it (without giving me an option to not) – I didn’t even know what it had dealt with until I opened MSE and looked at the History.

mse_vlc

So MSE has become extra fussy it seems, I don’t appreciate the heavy-handed approach, but I also find such bundled software installs to be annoying. Microsoft classes this particular one as “SoftwareBundler:Win32/Dowadmin” which is a general term, and says of such a threat:

This program installs unwanted software on your PC at the same time as the software you are trying to install, without adequate consent. It is  usually installed when you try to download legitimate software from third-party websites.

It makes me think what other notable software does this…

The first that comes to mind is Adobe Flash and its default offering of Google Chrome – the check boxes are clear on the screen but if you’re not familiar with the window it’s all to easy to install/upgrade Flash and end up with Chrome, without even knowing what it is – I’ve seen it many times with clients and I ask them: “I see you have Chrome installed, did you choose it or did you just find it on your computer?” I wonder if Microsoft will dare to call the Adobe’s Flash installer a “SoftwareBundler:Win32/Dowadmin”.

The second potentially unwanted thing I have found installed, that comes to mind right now is, ironically, the offer from Microsoft to upgrade to Windows 10, which sneaks in as a Windows Update (KB3035583) that isn’t even labelled correctly for what it is, claiming it’s an update “to resolve issues in Windows”.

windows10_kb3035583

It’s not unless you follow the link for further information that you learn that it’s the “Get Windows 10 app, which helps users understand their Windows 10 upgrade options and device readiness.” If you want to get rid of the offer then you have to navigate to the page of installed updates, uninstall it, then check for updates again and when it’s found again right-click it and hide it.

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