Subtitle: The gray and dark sources.
Gray sources? They are people who want to tease you with a free version but want to tempt you to purchase a paid full version. This is fair and reasonable in my opinion as long as their intentions are stated up front. Reasonably priced 30 to 45 day trials seem fair to me also. For example, after a WinZip trial the product will cost $29, a price I can live with for a product I can’t live without.
Then there are the gray sources that demonstrate a dark side. Download Apple’s free iTunes and you will constantly be reminded to update it AND QuickTime. QuickTime tries to “hijack” my preferred Windows Media Player. Hijacking is when a program associates common file extensions to be run on their program without asking permission. This drives be nuts since I have to undo the “damage.” During a recent iTunes “update” they even tried to slip a copy of Safari (web browser) past me. After getting caught doing the “dark thing” they recently modified their attempts. As the world goes to more and more Web served applications (vs. your desktop apps) the browser is going to be more and more important. Little ads are soon be a part of the browser I am convinced.
My free Java runtime plug-in, which is constantly requesting to be updated, tried to slip a copy of their free OpenOffice past me during an update. Cleary a Java update should not be pushing OpenOffice. I plan on checking out OpenOffice but when I want to!
To paraphrase Susan Bradley at http://windowssecrets.com “I understand that software vendors’ desire to gain customers. But abusing the sensitive and essential security-update processes in not ethical.”
Even getting a copy of the must have free Adobe Reader can be tricky. Type “Adobe Reader” in Google and the first hit is a sponsored link called Download PDF Reader 8.1. This is NOT Adobe Reader and not even made by Adobe and the only thing that is free is the updates! A novice could easily be tricked. The second link is the real free Reader but here again they (Adobe) try to slip in a copy of Adobe Media Player during the download. Media Player Wars now rank right up there with Browser Wars. Deciphering Google hits is tricky given the fact that companies can purchase the top link and include Meta keyword and description tags. I checked the source code for the first site and sure enough there is the Meta tag “Adobe.” Sneaky. Meta keywords have been so abused and used to mislead visitors that most search engines no longer give them any weight when ranking pages but this does not apply to paid for sponsored links. This is not only the dark side of free software but also the dark side of searching on the Internet.
I could go on and on and on….but enough for now.
As I said “buyer” beware.