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AOL 9.0 Called Badware 295

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the been-called-worse dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The bad news at AOL keeps coming. First they get in trouble for releasing search data on more than half a million customers, then it gives away security software with a nasty EULA, now its free client software is accused of acting like badware according to Stopbadware.org, the Google-funded rating group."
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AOL 9.0 Called Badware

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  • LOL (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:04PM (#15994732)
    So, Google technically owns like 5% of AOL, and funds stopbadware.org. So this is sort of like Sony vs. Sony, isn't it? Not directly relevant, but interesting as it shows how widespread these big Internet companies are, and how many pies they have their fingers in.
    • Re:LOL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pmancini (20121) <{pmancini} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:33PM (#15994963) Homepage
      Its more like a concerned stock holder voicing a concern. I own a good chunck of the company I work for and if they were to screw up I'd get on them to fix things too. Its not uncommon to see stake holders do this sort of thing because it protects your bottomline.

      Lets face it though, hasn't AOL been "badware" since like 1991? ;-)
      • Re:LOL (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday August 28, 2006 @07:30PM (#15997044) Journal
        Actually it sounds like truth in advertising. StopBadware.org has clearly stated that their goal is to make it known what software does bad things, and list those things that it does, and what the software makers can do to NOT be listed as 'badware'. If AOL Free version does these things, then it should be listed.

        All I see is StopBadware doing what they said they would do, no matter who it is, or who owns what. This is a good thing. Anything less would mean NO ONE could trust StopBadware.org.
  • Badware? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:04PM (#15994737)
    That sounds like a term a 5 year old would come up with.
    • Re:Badware? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:09PM (#15994773)
      Well, it's a nice way to sum up adware, viruses, worms, trojans, rootkits, spyware, and all that stuff. It's easy to understand. Joe Schmoe might not know what a rootkit is, but he's got a good idea that "badware" or "malware" (my prefered term) is not something he wants on his computer.
      • Re:Badware? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Dread_ed (260158) on Monday August 28, 2006 @05:22PM (#15996373) Homepage
        I had not seen "badware" before. I immediately thought it was categorically different from malware. Parsing the roots of the words would lead most people to that conculsion. "Mal" meaning bad but having the connotation of evil (as in malefic, malicious) seems pretty natural, but "bad" as in "sucks ass" leads me down a different cognitive road.

        I immediately thought that "badware" must be poorly designed, written, or implimented software. AOL would definitely be in this category, as well as the spawn-of-Satan Microsoft products.

        But since these words are synonomous I am coining a new word for software that isn't downright nasty like malware is, but just fails to reach the mark it was intended to. I call it "krapware." Those more vulgar of mind could call it "shitware" but that might be difficult to use in all circumstances.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by iced_773 (857608)
      Or an AOL user.
    • Not really (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:36PM (#15994987) Journal
      Spyware has a conotation of being, you know, about _spying_ on the user. Malware implies some malicious intent. Etc. That's stuff which not only doesn't cover all the crap out there (e.g., yes, how about stuff that keeps nagging me after I thought I uninstalled it?), but also is attackable -- and indeed attacked -- in courts on technicality grounds. You get people like Claria/Gator sending legal nastygrams around just because they're prepared to argue in court about some technicality in that classification.

      "Badware", while maybe it does sound like a kindergarten word, tends to convey the broader meaning and not get bogged in such lexical arguments. It doesn't imply malicious _intent_ or have to fit any definition of spying or whatever else these fucktards argue in court. It's just "bad".

      And, frankly, as an end-user I don't care why or with what intent it was written like that. E.g., if a toolbar or anti-virus is a nightmare to uninstall and leaves components running after I uninstalled it, it's "bad". I don't care if it's like that by malice or if Hanlon's Razor applies. ("Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.") It's just "bad" and they better clean up their act.

      To give a personal example, I had an experience like that with one of those MacAffee all-in-one security packages. An older version, but annoying anyway. Among the many problems it had, picture this: so when installing I installed it on D:, to free space on C:. But the first update installed itself in the default directory in C: anyway. But here's the stupid part: it also let the original version from D: running at the same time, so I had two anti-viruses running at the same time, slowing my machine to a crawl. So I uninstall it. Ok, it uninstalled the newly installed one from C:, but left the old one still installed and still running. Only this time without an uninstall, so I had to manually edit the registry and remove files to get rid of it.

      I'm sure that Hanlon's Razor fully applies there. It was no malice, there was no intention to spy, it's just written by the cheapest incompetent monkeys. But it's "bad" anyway. So "Badware" seems to fit that just nicely.
    • up with

      Oh, wait....that's what you said

      nevermind
    • That sounds like a term a 5 year old would come up with.
      No, that would by "Pottyware". ;)
    • I love it! (Score:5, Funny)

      by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:36PM (#15995380) Journal
      AOL is worse than malware. Malware is written with bad intent, or possibly written by Malcom Reynolds. AOL is just badware -- badly conceived, badly designed, and badly implemented.
      • "Brandware" n., software that actually doesn't do anything other than attach a company's logos, slogans, and other corporate branding to protocols & functionality that are available in at least 15 other ways. I've never used AOL software, and probably never will. But as I understand it there is No Purpose to using it unless you buy actual internet access from AOL and are somehow forced to. Is AOL's "software" still just a webpage that says "News" "Sports" "Entertainment" "Politics" -- brought to you b
  • by BlahMatt (931052) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:05PM (#15994744)
    Does this mean people actually believed that old versions of AOL were good? From what I can recall AOL has never been good. Perhaps it didn't act with malicious purpose, but it has, in my opinion, never been good and I certainly recall several occasions in my previous support job where it ended up being the cause of problems with totally unrelated software. My apologies to any AOL supporters out there, but this is looking like the end for AOL.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720)
      I've recently been approached by several different people (most recently, the concierge at my office building) about why their internet is so slow recently. Stupid me, I forgot to ask if they used a portal... I gave them a sheet with instructions for cleaning out malware, and it didn't seem to help them. Then one of them informed me she uses AOL. Turns out, they all did. I told them all to uninstall AOL, cancel their account (good luck with that!) and use Firefox instead of IE.

      My protocol for handling
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Scoth (879800)
      I was doing ISP tech support for a major ISP when AOL 5 came out. We got absolutely flooded by calls from AOL users who either used our service with AOL, or did the BYOA plan. AOL 5 replaced Windows DUN with its own version, which conveniently only worked with AOL. It was nearly impossible to rip it out and replace it with the original DUN. We had to turn tons of customers back to Microsoft or their computer vendor to reinstall Windows.

      Fortunately, most people were already unhappy with AOL so it didn't take
    • by HighOrbit (631451) * on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:06PM (#15995194)
      I know its very popular to bash AOL, but in their time they served a purpose.

      Back in 95, I had Prodigy. It was terrible. My username and email were something like "85XZW9@prodigy.net" or some such un-memorable non-sense. I couldn't tell people my e-mail address because I couldn't even remember it myself. IIRC, there was no "screenname", just the account name. Their client software was very much a DOS type app (even when run under Win3.1) that could not be minimized and filled the whole screen with a single task. And they did not have IM or anything like it.

      So one-day I tried AOL 2.something. It had a windows interface, so I could have multiple tasks open (i.e. one with the news, another with the weather, and another with a browser). I had a real username that was memorable and that approximated my own (along with a few other screennames for chat). And they had IM (no buddy list yet, that would be another year or two away), so I could send private messages in chat. And there was more content than prodigy. The web based advertising and spamming business were still immature, so they were not as sophisticated or motivated to spy on their customers as they are now.

      I also tried a few more services back then, MSN, still independantly run compuServe, something called WOW, etc. None of them were as good as AOL in 1995. Remember that pure ISP-only "web" was still young, web content was sparse, and search technology was immature, so it was hard to locate. Once cable-modem came to town in 1999, I keep AOL around for a few years for the email address. But I shut that down back in 2002.

      In their time AOL was the best on-line + internet service around. Basic internet was just not developed enough and the other services just didn't match up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by illumin8 (148082)

        So one-day I tried AOL 2.something. It had a windows interface, so I could have multiple tasks open (i.e. one with the news, another with the weather, and another with a browser). I had a real username that was memorable and that approximated my own (along with a few other screennames for chat). And they had IM (no buddy list yet, that would be another year or two away), so I could send private messages in chat.

        I remember back in 95. Do you remember, Windows 95 had this thing built-in called "Dial Up Netwo

  • The horror (Score:2, Insightful)

    by giorgiofr (887762)
    Big Internet company claims competitor's product is bad bad bad.
    I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    When you are in a hole, stop digging.
  • by indytx (825419) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:10PM (#15994781)
    From the article:

    The suite is also criticized for engaging in "deceptive installation" and faulted because some components fail to uninstall.

    This is just ridiculous. Why are there so many programs that refuse to uninstall or leave pieces of themselves lying around? How hard can it be for the "uninstall" function to actually work? Worse, do I really need several dialog boxes to get rid of something? I can always install it again. It's not like I'm wiping my hard drive.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Metaleks (977598)
      Technically, the uninstall function works just fine. Remember, it's how they want it to work. It's their decision if they want crap lurking in your hard drive after the program has been wiped. Usually the data that remains after an uninstall just remembers the settings of the program. So if you were to install it back you would have the same preferences as before. However, that's not always the case.
      • by bogie (31020) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:41PM (#15995015) Journal
        If it was just a few preferences left behind then there probably won't be any issue. But have a look at this screenshot. http://stopbadware.org/images/screenshots/AOL/AOL1 1.html [stopbadware.org]

        Two processes are left running and sucking up memory. The programmer who is charge of the unistall routine should be tarred and feathered and then forbidden from ever working in the field again. Beyond the obvious issue think about this. Aol 9.0.3343 is updated to 9.0.4000 because of a massive security flaw in AOLServiceHost.exe. You uninstalled AOL before the update came out and yet there sits part of the old version of AOL running as part of your OS just inviting trouble.
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:38PM (#15995004) Journal
      Uninstalling is not a trivial problem. What happens if the program installs a shared library? If you remove it when you uninstall, you might end up breaking things. You could fix this in a UNIX system by putting the library in /usr/lib and hard linking it to /usr/lib/appname/lib (for example). When you uninstall, you delete the copy in /usr/lib/appname/lib and then remove everything from /usr/lib with a reference count of 1. Or you keep an install count somewhere else (e.g. in the package management framework), although both of these require everyone to play by the rules.

      And what about configuration files? Sometimes I uninstall an application because I want it gone. Sometimes I uninstall it because I want to install a new version. In the first case, I want configuration information to be deleted. In the second, I want it retained. The uninstaller needs to know which of these I'm doing. There is even the third case (although less common these days) that I am uninstalling it to free up some disk space, but I will want it back later. In this case, I probably want configuration files deleted.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Rary (566291)

        "Uninstalling is not a trivial problem."

        Yes, it is.

        "What happens if the program installs a shared library?"

        You answered your own question quite nicely, actually.

        "...although both of these require everyone to play by the rules."

        And for those who don't, that would be their problem. If you play by the rules, your install and uninstall will go smoothly.

        "And what about configuration files? ... The uninstaller needs to know which of these I'm doing"

        Ask. Lots of uninstallers do this.

        Uninstalling is

        • by ZorbaTHut (126196)
          And for those who don't, that would be their problem. If you play by the rules, your install and uninstall will go smoothly.

          You don't remember Windows 3.1, do you?

          Many programs would install their own versions of DLLs right over other versions. If their version was newer, things might keep working. If their version was older, things would likely break. If you uninstalled the program, it would often remove the DLL entirely, ignoring the fact that other programs needed it.

          Even if that other program played by
      • Uninstalling is not a trivial problem.

        Have you used normal applications on OS X?

        What happens if the program installs a shared library?

        The library remains within the application package. If you delete it, tother programs default to using the most recent compatible version of the library in any remaining application. Since every package has a copy, you don't really have to worry about this.

        And what about configuration files? Sometimes I uninstall an application because I want it gone. Sometimes I uni

        • Have you used normal applications on OS X?

          Yes, OS X is my default system.

          The library remains within the application package. If you delete it, tother programs default to using the most recent compatible version of the library in any remaining application.

          This is not how I read the OS X loader documentation. It looks first in the application's bundle, then in the user's Frameworks folder, then the system Frameworks folders. Then it gives up. It never looks in other applications bundles. This means

      • And what about configuration files? Sometimes I uninstall an application because I want it gone. Sometimes I uninstall it because I want to install a new version. In the first case, I want configuration information to be deleted. In the second, I want it retained. The uninstaller needs to know which of these I'm doing. There is even the third case (although less common these days) that I am uninstalling it to free up some disk space, but I will want it back later. In this case, I probably want configuratio

    • by manno (848709)
      I HATE, and I mean HATE the fact that I have to "install" programs on my computer. I would much prefer the old DOS way of putting a binary, ann all the neccesary files into 1 directory, and just finding the binary needed to run it. If I want to uninstall a program I just delete it. No need to worry about my registry, programs leaving parts of themselves all over my computer ect.
      • by Zardus (464755)
        From what I understand, that's how Mac OSX does it (just drop the software image on your computer and launch it). I haven't used OSX much, though, so I'm not totally positive. Gobo Linux [gobolinux.org] also kinda tries to do this with Linux.
    • by vtcodger (957785)
      ***How hard can it be for the "uninstall" function to actually work? Worse, do I really need several dialog boxes to get rid of something?***

      Looks to me like you need to be clairvoyant to write Windows software -- including uninstallers. Since hardly anyone is clairvoyant, it comes as no suprise to me that a lot of Windows stuff barely runs ... if it runs at all. Shouldn't suprise anyone much I think. What DOES suprise me is that "they" keep on making this stuff ever complex and less reliable. I somet

  • I can't wait for when you search "AOL" in Google and it pops up that new malware screen Google are doing to warn people before going to a dodgy site.

    (And actually, while I'm on this topic, can anyone disable that new Google warning. On Safari/OSX I don't care about 'bad sites'. It's embarrassing when you're installing your clients software and need a serial heh heh)

  • ...I'm the guy with the coasters.

    Seriously, none of the free AOL coasters that I've ever received in the mail have ever done anything remotely 'bad'. Unless you consider sticking to the bottom of a cold glass 'bad'.

    I've been waiting for one of the new versions to prevent that sort of thing, though. That is certainly a necessary upgrade - maybe version 15?
    • Seriously, that was a great Army of Darkness reference. Bravo. Laughed my ass off.

      I'm really pissed they changed that line in the Director's Cut. But c'est la vie. Sam Raimi could fart on a rotten egg salad sandwich and I'd probably buy it.
  • AOL 9.0 Security Edition was released 11/18/04. This is relevant for today how? Everything in retrospect is bad for you.
  • This is news? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonHawk (21256) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:13PM (#15994813) Homepage Journal
    From the summary: "...its free client software is accused of acting like badware..."

    This is news? Everyone I know has been saying that for *years* about AOL and their software. It tries to take over your system, has odd compatability problems, is extremely difficult to remove, and bombards you with ads. And that's when you *pay* for it!
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:15PM (#15994828)
    I wonder what the "Google Toolbar" rates...
  • by Andrewkov (140579) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:16PM (#15994837)
    The AOL software is down right angelic compared to the Jessica Simpson Screensaver! [stopbadware.org]
    • by Jeremi (14640)
      The AOL software is down right angelic compared to the Jessica Simpson Screensaver!


      I like to think that the Jessica Simpson Screensaver provides a valuable service: culling the herd...

    • why is this illegal? installation of screensavers that come with badware? shouldnt this be illegal?
  • Seems like the end (Score:2, Interesting)

    by moore.dustin (942289)
    While it may appear like AOL is looking down the barrel of doom, I do not seeing the service going anywhere soon. Many people have tried, and failed at being the AOL killer. Some services are able to compete, but really, AOL is still very much on the top of in regards to those providers.

    On the same token, AOL is probably ready to go, but they will remain till a service is presented that can offer the same sort of service to the same people, but be much better too. Even more important though, is the abilit

    • by pete6677 (681676)
      What does AOL provide that you can't get elsewhere, other than a uniquely horrible internet experience?
  • wtheck (Score:4, Funny)

    by kemo_by_the_kilo (971543) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:22PM (#15994879)
    Between not letting you cancel (even post mortum) and having "bad"ware... the only thing left for them to do is start including dell batteries with their CDs
  • duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by matt328 (916281) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:25PM (#15994901)
    AOL has been badware since its inception. Even back in the day with version 3.0, why the hell did we need an entire goddamn program just to establish a dial up connection?
  • Cops (Score:2, Funny)

    by robotsrule (805458) *
    Badware, badware What'cha gonna do? What'cha gonna do when they deinstall you? Badware, badware What'cha gonna do? What'cha gonna do when they deinstall you?
  • But they suck. They're the slowest creakiest pieces of shit evah.
  • It's not Badware, it's just drawn that way?
  • by Floody (153869) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:47PM (#15995061)
    Large object in the center of the Solar System called Hotthing.
  • ...anything but a drinks coaster and in our house we save them for exactly that purpose. It's taken Google this long to decide that some version of AOL is badware (but not deciding what their medium is for yet)? Hmmm... could this be a sign of the beginning of the end of this first real post-dot-gone equity-market darling?

    oh i have been a beggar, and will be one again...ank
  • by brunascle (994197) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:52PM (#15995085)
    ...the worst tech product of all time [pcworld.com]
  • by thelost (808451) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:53PM (#15995105) Journal
    this is called full disclosure. deal with it. Lenovo and Sun also sponsor StopBadware.org, big deal. Whether or not google have alternate reasons for getting behind a push like this they have a history of philanthropic work, I am not surprised to find them involved.
  • AOhell is the Micro$oft of the Internet Service Provider industry. Why in the world would anybody want to use AOhell? It's time for people like us to tell our friends, neighbors, and grandparents who use AOhell that it's time to dump a chunk of long term memory like Just Johnny and switch to the "real" Internet. Then, AOhell will stop sending us those darn coasters that clutter our home and increase global warming (if you throw them away, you screw up the environment by increasing the garbage crisis; if you
  • RESPONSE FROM AOL

    AOL reports that they are reviewing this report and that they are taking steps to address what's noted here. With regards to uninstallation, AOL says that a design flaw in the uninstaller mistakenly leaves executables running, even after a restart. The company says it is working on a fix, and in the meantime, that the executables do nothing even though they are running.
    August 27th, 2006

    Yeah thats it, Nothing at all... Wink... Just keep seeding those torrents..... Thats right, nothing

  • I'd actually ask them to require stricter standards especially at installation

    1) Program has option to install in any directory you choose - surprise how many of them lack this even
    2) Make start menu and desktop shortcuts wherever you choose - I hate ones that just add three icons to my desktop
    3) Make no folders other than in the one they are installed in or that you specify - When Reader 7.0 came out I was constantly deleting that bloody myEbooks crap until I figured out how to stop it.
    4) Do not add themse
    • 7) Any software that changes file associations by itself - give me the option and I will tell you what I'm going to let you open automatically.
      7) Anything that does not give you a single entry in the Add Remove Programs List.
      Uhh... you know... I hate to be "that guy". But. Umm... You misspelled "8".
  • AOL has ALWAYS been regarded as "badware" by anyone who can use a toothpick. AOL falls into every kind of malicious software category there is. Malware, Adware, Spyware, Spamware...AOL fits all of those pretty damn well, and the new title of "Badware" just goes to show how horrible the program and service is. I hope AOL stock tanks and the business goes belly up. It DESERVES to. AOL is a marketing ploy in the purest sense.

    AOL is:

    Malware: AOL has elements in it that allow it to hijack the MSN Explorer web br
  • I miss the good ol' days when AOL was on a floppy disk.

    And I still don't know why AOL insists in using IE browser in all it's software. They own Netscape and they don't even use it in AOL software.

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