Thursday, April 07, 2011

SOFTWARE: I (DON'T) Want Candy

I've been going through my Freeware Installer Disk, doing some updating, some pruning and some documenting. I really believe that it's quite possible to run a full and rich Windows computer using just freeware and open source software. Being a power user, I've got more than a few paid applications, but I'm not the normal profile. Not even close to one.

One of the programs I decided to prune away was AVG, the once darling of the freeware anti-virus programs. I used it. I recommended it and I probably installed on close to 100 computers. But once AVG started to add functionality and become a suite of defensive products, rather than JUST an anti-virus, I looked elsewhere and found alternatives: Avast, then Avira and then back to Avast. (There were a couple of paid terms with Norton and Comodo in that rotation too). I don't think I've installed AVG on anybody's computer in three years, maybe more. Last week, Patrick had to deal with a friend of mine's computer that was seriously bungled up and it was running AVG. Through all of this time, I always included the latest version of AVG on the FID because, as they say, variety means potentially stumbling on the solution. Yesterday, in reviewing the Security section of FID, I deleted AVG. It was time for it to go.

And not a moment too soon. It seems AVG, sometime in the recent past, has opted to join the OpenCandy movement. I found this out via today's post at Gizmo's Freeware. This is a well-done, curated freeware site that I check daily. And it opened my eyes up to the growing menace that OpenCandy represents. In a calm, fact-filled article, the whole concept of OpenCandy is put through an analysis. The conclusion at Gizmo is that OpenCandy, by itself, will not result in an application being barred from recommendation. But its presence will be noted and the note itself will be a warning bell. And if OpenCandy is, in any way, stealthed into the product install, then Gizmo will, in fact, bar it.

NOTE: Avira is also mentioned. I still include Avira on the FID because the reason I switched back from Avira to Avast is Avira's over-protective approach to anything resembling a virus. EXACTLY what I want when I'm unsure of my current AV choice and want a second opinion. Erring on the side of caution in second opinions is a good idea.

I've seen OpenCandy during my most recent updates of some products I use. It's a bit of a showstopper and I read the screens of software it suggests I might want to install fairly carefully. Thus far, I've been able to answer no successfully with one exception, a certain PDF reader application that I have to revisit again before dumping it.  I don't rage against the authors of the software because it helps pay them for their time in creating software I and others find useful. Heck, I'm in the programming game and none of what I do is free to the end user. I wish there were alternatives to adware and the kind of semi-adware OpenCandy is. I'm leaning more and more towards Open Source applications, rather than Freeware/Adware these days because of it.

But all in all, OpenCandy won't stop me from using/installing software that includes it. I just won't ever, ever say yes to OpenCandy knowingly.

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