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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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  • 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.
  • Seems like the end (Score:2, Interesting)

    by moore.dustin (942289) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:19PM (#15994861) Homepage
    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 ability to convince AOL users that is not only smart to switch, but easy and painless at the same time. AOL users are, typically, some of the newer users of the internet, so that needs to be kept in mind for anyone looking to knock the big guy off.

    Lastly, I would not count AOL out just yet. While another service may come along to challenge them, it may only to serve as a catalyst for change within AOL. This would be a good thing overall, but it does suck that we have to wait or a company to be threatened in order or them to innovate.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:19PM (#15994864)
    What the hell is "badware"? I've just about had it with all of these moronic terms that are being used in the media these days. A term like "badware" is something I'd expect to hear out of a Valley Girl: "Like, oh my god, Sally! There is like some like badware on my compy! And like **bubble gum chomping** oh my god like my AOL is like not working so I can't like chat with Jimmy!"

    "Badware" is just about as stupid a term as "Islamofascism" or "freedom fries". There's no reason for a computing magazine like PC World, or a technology company like Google, to stoop to using such stupid words.

  • by Metaleks (977598) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:30PM (#15994944) Homepage
    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 Scoth (879800) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:39PM (#15995005)
    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 too much to convince them it wasn't our fault. I bet we gained a few users from that. I think they called it the "Evil Connectoid" bug.

    Ah, memories...
  • by atokata (872432) on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:05PM (#15995189)
    My god, you're a moron.

    First of all, people *do* operate cars without a thought to safety. Have you ever driven on a major highway in a large city?
    How about the number of people who destroy thousand-dollar engines for want of two bucks of motor oil?

    If Joe Schmoe decides he wants to click "Yes" when AnnoyingAdBar, LLC tells him to, than doesn't he pretty much get what he deserves?

    (And, more importantly, when he pays me to fix it, don't I get what *I* deserve?)

    Support freelancers, encourage stupidity!
  • 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.
  • I would love to see someone operate a toaster oven with the same casual disregard for safety that people seem to want to operate computers with.

    I put my toaster on the counter, stick the pop tarts in, and push the button. They get done in a minute, and I eat them.

    The problem with computers is that if you use the washer incorrectly (or set it up incorrectly), it floods. You notice the problem right away. Most users don't realize they're botted until 2-3 months later (when the adware or spyware gets really, really bad).

    The best way to do this is to offer computer classes with incentives, and to make home installion a part of computer sales. Failing that, Dells should all come with the firewall on, and AV and anti-spyware installed and running with a 6 month subscription, as well as a note (in dead tree form) reminding the user that he needs to update and renew the stuff in 6 months.
  • Re:The horror (Score:1, Interesting)

    by kingsean (980135) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:16PM (#15995658)

    I wouldn't stop at "some" stock... Google spent $1 Billion [washingtonpost.com] on this company. And even though $1b is a relatively small amount to corporate Google, it is still an investment, so it would be nice if this badware alert is a sort of spread-no-evil-you-should-change-your-ways message to AOL.

  • Re:Erm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by danpsmith (922127) on Monday August 28, 2006 @04:29PM (#15996098)
    Keywords: google funded

    Because Google has a real interest in taking down AOL considering that they paid a billion [businessweek.com] just to do business with them.

  • 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: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.
  • by Announcer (816755) on Monday August 28, 2006 @08:55PM (#15997377) Homepage
    My boss' computer puked. Badly. I nuked the HD, and restored everything from a disk image I had made when I first built it for him, then did the Windows Updates. All was well. I created a NEW disk image, and returned the machine to him.

    He installed AOL 9.0 and it puked. Again. I suggested he try uninstalling AOL. It said that it uninstalled, but the computer was still lethargic and crashing. So, he brought it back in.

    Before nuking it & restoring the new disk image, I figured I'd take a look around. As the article said, there were numerous "pieces" of AOL's "badware" scattered everywhere! I sent him a link to the stopbadware.org site article, with a note telling him that this was exactly what I saw, and was concerned about. I plan to bring this information to the bosses above him, as well.

    In summary, this article hits the nail squarely on the head. If you want to use AOL's newer features, you're MUCH better off logging into their WEBsite with Firefox, and using AdBlock and NoScript judiciously. It's amazing how many 3'rd party sites want to run scripts! More than half of them can be safely left blocked without adversely affecting the AOL site's functionality.

    With their 9.0 client software, you surrender *all* control. They link you to their servers via VPN. Block the VPN, and the client balks. Leave the VPN open, and any hacker that gets into their servers (or any mischeivous/disgruntled employee)could potentially install rootkits or whatnot onto your PC.

    AOL's client software also relies HEAVILY upon IE... and we all know how flawed THAT is.
  • by illumin8 (148082) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @07:59AM (#15998883) Journal
    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 Networking" that gave me a real IP address and I could use any applications I chose with it? Do you remember we could use Netscape for our web browser, IRC for chat/instant messaging, and an FTP client to download all the software your heart desired?

    I guess AOL proved there was a market for people like yourself that were incapable of figuring out how to do this on your own (hint: Dial-up networking is so easy to use it has a wizard), but for the vast majority of us, AOL, and the lusers that came with it were a plague on the internet. Hell, I was using the internet for years before that through an ISP without a PPP connection: I had a shell account and that was all I needed. I wouldn't expect that shell access would be useable by the average human (without an understanding of Unix), but when Windows 95 came out with DUN, that changed things for everyone. Of course, there were still people that couldn't figure it out like you and for those people AOL filled the niche. Sometimes I wonder if we would have been better off without them.... [ducks]

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