Wednesday, July 23, 2008

SOFTWARE: Let Me Add to THIS Rant

A site I check daily is Confessions of a Freeware Junkie. Maximillian doesn't post daily, just most days. He tries out new freeware and writes reviews. Mostly positive, allowing for readers like me to take advantage of his time spent reviewing to get good quality free software that does what it says it does.

Today, he went off on the freeware industry for the ubiquitous habit of installing specialized toolbars into your web browser. An option that is usually turned on by default. It's a good rant, with pictures and everything. He actually managed to load up his Internet Explorer with enough toolbars so that he couldn't see ANY web page at all! And he was still two short of seeing all the toolbars that were installed! (You can temporarily leave here and check his rant out. Come right back)

His rage is justified.

I run Firefox. So why would I want the Google Toolbar installed? Yet last night I was installing an update to IrfanView and had I NOT unchecked the box to install it, I would have had two different google search boxes on my screen. And Google Toolbar is one of the better toolbars out there. But it doesn't add a single thing to Firefox that isn't there or can be added without needing a space-taking toolbar.

MaxiMillian knows that the toolbar biz actually pays for a lot of today's freeware. Companies like Google pay to have the IrfanView's of the world include the installer as part of their free software installer, with the option to uncheck it available. That let's us continue to get good free software. How much Google pays the programmer of IrfanView is nobody's business, but it must be enough, since it, and a love of the project, has kept the programmer doing updates to the fabulous graphics viewer for years.

What MaxiMillian wants to know, is why the Google's of the world demand negative optioning? Why NOT let the programmer leave the box unchecked and ONLY have the the person installing make the decision to install it, rather than sleepily letting it install without thinking about it? Possibly, there should be an advertising page extolling the merits of the toolbar, with a big "CHECK HERE to install the latest and greatest software innovation since the discovery of the delete button!"

It's a question worth asking.

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