November 28, 2010

why do they think this is OK?

In a previous post, I complained about unwanted plug-ins in Firefox. Because I wasn't terribly specific in my complaint, the discussion quickly went off-topic. This post (and the one upcoming) are trying to get the discussion back on track.

Why do Microsoft, Google, Apple, and others think that it is an OK practice to add plug-ins to Firefox when I'm installing their software packages. When I installed iTunes, in order to manage my music collection and sync to my iPod, why did Apple think it was OK to add the iTunes Application Detector plug-in to my Firefox web browser without asking me? Why did Microsoft think it was OK to sneak their Windows Live Photo Gallery or Office Live Plug-in for Firefox into my browser (presumably) when I installed Microsoft Office? What makes Google think it's reasonable behavior for them to slip a Google Update plug-in into Firefox when I installed Google Earth or Google Chrome (not sure which one caused this) without asking me first?

This is not OK behavior. I downloaded and installed a specific application from these vendors intending to have only that application installed, and without my consent that application foisted additional software on me. In my book, that fits the definition of a trojan horse. Yes, that is precisely how a trojan horse operates. These additional pieces of software installed without my consent may not be malicious but the means by which they were installed was sneaky, underhanded, and wrong.

I repeat: this is not OK.

Google, Microsoft, Apple, RockMelt, and any others out there who are doing this, I'm calling on you to stop this now. If you want to add software to my system, ask me. Sneaking software onto my system that I didn't ask for is evil (precisely in the Google "don't be evil" sense.)

Yes, Firefox and other software can do more to help users deal with this bad behavior, but we shouldn't have to for "trustworthy" software vendors like Google, Apple, and Microsoft. These vendors should stop this behavior and let Mozilla and other software organizations focus on more important usability issues than combating their evil behavior.

Microsoft, stop being evil. Apple, stop being evil. Google, stop being evil. And you upstarts like RockMelt, don't follow in those evil footsteps. It's not worth it.

It's really simple. ASK first!

Posted by asa at 4:03 PM