Call it Adware, Malware, Spyware, Crapware, it's simply unwanted. Every non-technical relative I've ever talked to has toolbars they apparently can't see, apps running in the background, browser home pages set to Russian Google clones, and they have no idea how it got that way.
Here's how they get that way.
You go to download something reasonable. I wanted to download a Skype Recorder, so I went here. (Yes, I linked here to the URL because they don't need Google Juice from me.)
OK at this point I'm screwed. The green button CLEARLY desperately wants me to click on it. I totally ignore the tiny "Direct Download Link" below the friendly button. I have no idea what that glyph icon means, but it's pointing down, so that must mean download.
Welcome to the Download.com installer! How helpful!
More green buttons, awesome. Let's go!
Pre-selected Express installation? Super helpful, I love that. Ah, and next to it there's text in the same font size and color that I totally won't read that says:
Install Search Protect to set [CHANGE] my home page and [TOTALLY MESS UP] default search to Conduit Search [THAT I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF AND NEITHER DO YOU] and [NOW THIS IS AUDACIOUS...] prevent attempts to change my browser settings.
In other words, we, Download.com, are going to totally change the way you use you computer and browser the way and prevent you from easily changing it back. We're going to do it now, when you press Next, and oh, by the way, we have Admin on your computer because just a moment ago you pressed YES on the Windows Warning that we could mess things up, because everyone ignores that.
Or, you can click Custom, because non-technical relative ALWAYS clicks Custom. NO. They don't. Technical people ALWAYS press Custom. ALWAYS. Always. Other people? Never.
Ah, nice, when I press Custom it's set to...wait for it...the same stuff that was gonna happen if you pressed Express.
AND WE ARE ONLY ON STEP 2. What ever happened to clicking just once and getting what I needed?
OMG "It communicates several times a day with servers to check for new offers and change ads on my computer?" I totally want that. Thanks Green Button!
I'm sure that if I press Decline here that it will mess up my installation of the original thing I wanted to install...I have forgotten what that was, but I'll just keep going.
Weird. I thought I was already here. I'm sure I want this also.
Huh. Does my Mouse not work? I'll click it again. Backing up my files without asking seems legit.
Install Now? What have we been doing all this time?
I am disappointed in us, Internet, that this is a business. Someone wrote this, for their job, directed by their middle manager, who was directed by their rich boss. There was a meeting (there's always a meeting) where it was discussed on how we could most effectively fool non-technical relatives into installing crap.
These are Dark UI Patterns.
A Dark Pattern is a type of user interface that appears to have been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills.
This isn't cool and it needs to stop. I won't be visiting Download.com anymore.
I'll only install software from Vendors I trust, like Oracle...
Gosh, maybe I need to install that "Crap Cleaner" everyone talks about so I can remove these unwanted toolbars.
Ok, forgot it. I'll just stick with the official Windows Updates because I'm sure I want all those.
So, um. Yeah.
Sound off in the comments.