In CNet's article Yahoo IM users get more than they bargained for:

If you're one of the tens of millions of Yahoo users asked to upgrade your instant-messaging software this week, be on your toes: The update can open the door to unwanted PC houseguests--and setting changes--by default.
By accepting Yahoo's "typical" installation of YIM with Voice, it will also download Yahoo's Search Toolbar with anti-spyware and anti-pop-up software, desktop and system tray shortcuts, as well as Yahoo Extras, which will insert Yahoo links into the Internet Explorer browser. The IM client also contains "live words," which will automatically show an icon when the user highlights words online and then hyperlink to Yahoo search results, definitions or translation tools. Finally, the installation will alter the users' home page and auto-search functions to point to Yahoo by default.

On Make You Go Hmm:

Wonder if Jeremy Zawodny, Russell Beattie or any of their other blogging employees will address these installation practices? Do they agree with them? Like/dislike them? Or are they hoping this story gets buried with the holidays and other more pressing stories in current news? It takes stones to stand up when your company is doing something wrong and IMO, this is very, very wrong. I sure hope somebody internally over there is complaining about these questionable software installation practices. If they aren’t complaining, I hope somebody is at least questioning them.

Do I agree with those practices? No.

Do I like those practices? Hell no. It's insulting and disrespectful. I've aborted software installs or upgrades when they try to pull this stuff. In fact, I just had this happen yesterday.

I'm sick and tired of this crap. I don't know which company started using this tactic, but it's become the standard operating procedure for lots of software out there. And it sucks.

Leave my settings, preferences, and desktop alone!

Why do companies do this? Money. And when your competitor does it and you don't, you're letting them take advantage of an "opportunity" that you are not. (An opportunity to piss off your users, perhaps?)

Remember pop-under ads?

I don't know what it's going to take to get companies to stop this crap either. Do you have any good ideas? I'd love to hear 'em.

See Also:

[Insert standard disclaimer about not speaking for my employer here.]

Posted by jzawodn at September 01, 2005 10:40 PM

Reader Comments
# jr said:

For what it's worth, I hate it too. Yahoo could hand out gold wrapped candy bars, rescue flaming orphans, and cure cancer and stuff like this will keep us branded as "evil-doers" forever.

Know why Google gets all the "good" press and tons of acolytes? They didn't bundle software (well, at least until now.)

It's stupid, stupid, stupid.

Oh yeah, and for what it's worth, i ALWAYS do the custom installation for ANY product. It's amazing the stuff that you can turn off.

on September 1, 2005 10:55 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

No, the GOOG bundles too. Check the See Also links I just posted.

on September 1, 2005 10:59 PM
# Badrinath.V.S said:

Recently I installed the yahoo toolbar without my permission it added a menu of its own in firefox,although the menu has a remove this button, it aint ok to install anything without notifying the user.It really is bad and Yahoo must stay away from using such stupid tricks.

Read about the unwanted "addons" that come with Y!Messenger latest version so have been abstaining from installing it.

on September 1, 2005 11:17 PM
# Gen Kanai said:

Jeremy- glad to see you address this. The Y! IM/VoIP team needs to be given a stern talking-to and be reminded that this kind of thing is very 2000. Not 2005.

Also, just FYI, those of us who go to and click on your name get sent to a 404

on September 1, 2005 11:53 PM
# Mike said:

> I don't know what it's going to take to get companies to stop this crap either. Do you have any good ideas?

Why don't you go down the hall and talk to those responsible?

on September 2, 2005 12:45 AM
# Victor said:

That reminds me a company called Real... and good karma always runs out faster than you think.

on September 2, 2005 01:35 AM
# Manu Sharma said:

Yahoo Messenger once made my browsing life miserable by messing up the mailto protocol...this, even when during installation I chose NOT to associate it with Yahoo mail. As result, whenever I clicked on an email address, by mistake, 50 dozen windows of Internet Explorer would open up. This "feature" would not disappear even after uninstalling messenger. All my attempts to try to make Outlook Express as my default email app failed. This only went away when I upgraded my OS.

Also, Jeremy, Google does bundle their software but they also make it EXPLICIT on the first screen what the users are getting and give them the option to opt out.

on September 2, 2005 03:42 AM
# Nicole Simon said:

Oh the wonderful thing is, that they take my (unused IE) installation and mess that up - even though I have said not to.

Also in the latest was it Acrobat? I encountered similar too. Needless to say: There is no Yahoo product on my hard disk in use, and I activly tell people not to install it also. (To be fair, also with MSN).

They want to chat? Miranda and others are waiting for you and they also include other messangers. Need a search bar? You wanted Firefox anyway and there are nice ones available.

Evangalizing works. My aunt, 63, started using computer 2 years ago, set up with firefox, thunderbird and an explanation why she would not use those plugins. Now, she is educating her friends "installing things from yahoo, ms = baaaaad. Automatic setting of homepage and stealing your control? Baaaaad companies.".

They are not the target group of millions of teenager? Rigth. But she is the target group with money. And she is 'burned' for Yahoo.


on September 2, 2005 04:43 AM
# Jeffrey Friedl said:

I hate this stuff as much as anyone, but I consider it to be like TV commercials -- that's the price the medium has decided to make you pay to get stuff without cost. If unchecking a few boxes during the install is too high a price to pay to use the free software, well, then you probably don't want the software that much. And that's fine.

Sure, it'd be nice to have the free stuff come just as you want it, just as it'd be nice to have free TV without commercials. It's not that way. Deal with it. One way to deal with it is to choose not to use it. But choosing to bitch and moan about it is not among the ways to deal with it that I'd consider reasonable.

(That some install procedures are broken and they dork your settings despite being told not to -- now that's something worth bitching and moaning about.)

I find the Y! IM and Firefox installs to be exhasperating (I have to answer the same "do I want a desktop shortcut" questions every friggin' time), but the apps are far superior to what I could write myself, and I'm more than happy to fix a few settings occationally if that's what it takes to use these wonderful apps.


on September 2, 2005 06:04 AM
# John Mora said:

This is exactly the reason I refuse to install any Yahoo or MSN add-on software. No, I don't need *any* of my settings changed, or any more system tray icons, and I don't want to install a toolbar filled with crap I don't use.

I'm relieved there are MyWeb bookmarklets available - it's an awesome service. If I was forced to install the toolbar to use it, I'd switch to Furl or some other alternative.

Real is the perfect example of the scurge of spamvertising gone bad.

And what's up with Yahoo and making their advertising and self-promotion as loud and obnoxious as possible? My guess is there's a higher-up at Yahoo who needs a beating in the parking lot.

on September 2, 2005 08:17 AM
# Raghu Srinivasan said:

Speaking of unrelated bundling - my Adobe Acrobat Reader upgrade wants to install the Yahoo toolbar. And no, I cannot opt out.

on September 2, 2005 10:41 AM
# Doug said:

I think AOL is the one that started this practice. After every upgrade of AOL Instant Messenger, I end up with AOL shortcuts on my desktop, my IE links, and in my Start->Programs list.

They still do the above. I don't know if they still alter the homepage or not, but I think they used to.

on September 2, 2005 11:33 AM
# Serena said:

That's why I always do a custom installation of any software - so it doesn't add crap I don't want.

My annoyance with the new version of Yahoo IM is the fact that even though I've said I do NOT want it to start up when Windows starts, it still happens.

on September 2, 2005 11:35 AM
# Manu Sharma said:

To answer, "what it's going to take to get companies to stop this crap."

A realisation that consumers today are increasingly visible, vocal and powerful. A company that indulges in such a practice can't get away with it anymore.

on September 2, 2005 01:12 PM
# Kevin Fox said:

As a former UI designer for Y! Messenger and a current UI designer at Google (though like Jeremy I don't speak for either) I'm really surprised that Yahoo's gone so far with the "Upgrade X and takeover Y and Z" trick. I've come to expect that Microsoft chooses not to remember that you changed your homepage to Yahoo or Google when you upgrade to the next version of IE. Though it's bad, they're changing a pref in their own product. But updating a desktop app and finding internet settings suddenly changed to another website? Ick.

I feel that upfront explicit bundling is a valuable and valid marketing strategy (as with the Google Toolbar and WinZIP), but hiding new software and pref-changers behind a software update is sleazy.

I really respect Yahoo's publicized blogging policy, and hope that it sets the tone for similar policies at other companies. In the same way, I hope Google's Software Principles ( ) becomes an industry-wide stake in the ground.

Don't treat your users like kids who don't know any better and don't treat them like rubes who you trick for your own financial gains. Treat them like intelligent people and maybe they'll respect you in return.

on September 2, 2005 01:42 PM
# Ben said:

Jeffrey, it's not just free software with this problem. I pay Yahoo! a monthly fee to use their music service, but when a new version of that client comes out it and I install it, it still tries all this crap.

Besides, how much do they really make per installation for being so evil? I'd pay $0.50 for a version of Yahoo! IM that I knew had nothing bundled and wouldn't reset my home page etc etc.

Where are micropayments, darnit?!?

on September 2, 2005 02:03 PM
# Hanlon said:

I think my razor is what should be applied here:

on September 2, 2005 03:06 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Why do you think that?

on September 2, 2005 03:27 PM
# Dave Hodson said:


Thx for having the cojones to speak your mind on this, couldn't agree more

on September 2, 2005 03:55 PM
# mr fuckedgoogle said:

I'm about as anti-google an pro-yahoo as you can possibly get without purchasing firearms and going on a rampage.

But the latest auto-install crap from yahoo seriously pissed me off. Comon guys, WTF?

on September 2, 2005 04:20 PM
# GrumpY! said:

>> I hate this stuff as much as anyone, but I consider it to be like TV commercials -- that's the price the medium has decided to make you pay to get stuff without cost.

friedl, this specious argument is beneath you. try again.

on September 2, 2005 08:32 PM
# will said:

Jeremy, have you groked 3721 (the Yahoo!China search tool bar)? Let me know what you think. . . its pretty controversial in China (some dont mind at all, other thinks its equivalent to spyware) with its aggressive installation and uninstallation tactics.

on September 3, 2005 10:37 AM
# mjt said:

I have to say that the most egregious practice I've seen has been the SBC/Yahoo! DSL installation, wherein upon inserting the install disc on my powerbook, all my network locations were erased, along with all of my network adaptors other than the ethernet. It was a huge invasion, and annoying to no end, as I had several custom adaptors set up.

on September 5, 2005 12:10 PM
# Barry parr said:

Oh, man, do I feel like a chump.

One day after reading this, my daughter asked if she could install Yahoo!M on my PC. I said yes without thinking too hard because I was in the middle of something else. You know the rest.

I got most of the junk off my system, by removing and reinstalling YM myself with everything unchecked. So I got to experience the installation process first hand.

I still can't figure out how to (1) get Firefox to stop defaulting to yahoo search when I don't enter a complete URL, (2) remove the YM icon from my system tray when YM's not running, and (3) remove the Y! toolbar from firefox (not merely unselect it).

on September 5, 2005 11:05 PM
# Morgon said:

On a somewhat-related note, I am curious about Yahoo's practices in regards to ad-bots on the Messenger and Chat services. I've always wondered (and it's been speculated for a while) if Yahoo has allowed and encouraged ad companies to invade user's privacy in this way. With Messenger 7, they've included a 'Spam' link in each message, but is it too-little-too-late? It's not difficult to find these fake names - just do a Yahoo Member search for any state or metro area, and kill the first two pages of results.

Back on topic, though, I hope Yahoo is taking steps to remove adware from being both bundled with the application, but bundled with the 'service' (that is, bots and such).

on September 20, 2005 07:00 AM
# Paul said:

I second Mike's comment. Why don't you walk down the hall and give those responsible a chewing out? Or is this blog just a PR stunt?

Why not set up some meetings with your managers and blog about what you said to them and their responses?

on September 20, 2005 08:57 AM
# Darryl said:

Prepare for the slashdot spam storm.

on September 20, 2005 10:44 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Uhm, Slashdot didn't do anything so responsible as to actually link to me so folks could, you know, form their own opinions and grok the context.

on September 20, 2005 11:39 AM
# Darryl said:

Ah, picked up the link from a comment in /.

on September 20, 2005 01:37 PM
# Jamie said:

Not a big fan of this...but is it really any different than all the music players offering to be the default player for all media files? Between iTunes, RealMedia, Quicktime...etc, etc, etc...I must be asked to switch monthly!!!

on September 22, 2005 01:46 AM
# Dave Nicholson said:

I reinstalled my OS 2 weeks ago and definately have NOT installed Yahoo anything (not knowingly at least). I'm ashamed to say I've worked in IT for 25 years and don't know how this happened, but tonight I wanted to do some packet loss testing on my broadband connection, tyoed in my routers IP address to check the Ip it was getting from the ISP and, guess what..............up pops the Yahoo Search page, I ve trawled through the registry removing everything that says yahoo, deleted everything from the hard disk that says Yahoo and still it won't go away!
The whisky bottle on the shelf in front of me is calling my name! Someone.......Anyone.....please help before I drinkmyself into a stupor!

on September 26, 2005 11:53 PM
# shroutosaur said:

The Internet, the advertisers and the software vendors have become the f'king Deadwood of the modern era. What was a great way to share ideas and get information has become Wild West City, with innocent bystanders getting shot (spyware, phishing,ID theft, etc) while the hackers and advertisers try to rob their way to riches. If this keeps up, the Internet is dead. People will say F'k off and go back to the library and read books.

on October 31, 2005 05:03 AM
# hateyahoo said:

What if I bomb Yahoo headquarters? Will they get a message?! If I had a gun (which I don't unfortunatelly) I shoot dead all spammers too. Guess what, I am very, very upset PC user.

on October 31, 2005 08:45 AM
# Yaoo said:

[quote]What if I bomb Yahoo headquarters? Will they get a message?! If I had a gun (which I don't unfortunatelly) I shoot dead all spammers too.[/quote]

That is illegal

on November 4, 2005 07:14 PM
# Rosary said:

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm so now, how do I get my old hyper link usage back? I have only just started learning about the computer so this is all new to me. However it is a bit frustrating when you are trying to learn and these things happen. So thank you for making yourself available for people like me. Any advice on how to get it back would be greatly appreciated.

on June 13, 2006 04:53 AM
# infostud said:

It gets worse. I specifically unchecked all the add-ons when I installed messenger, yet the Yahoo toolbar *still* installed itself in my Firefox browser. Why even have an option to disable this crap if the program does it anyway? That's flat out hijacking.

on April 8, 2010 07:33 PM
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