Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No, I Don't Want Your #^$% Toolbar

I’ve been well known to rant about software companies who trick users into downloading additional unwanted software. One of the most annoying is the toolbar which even comes along with some security programs. In almost all the situations, the option is pre-selected so unless you’re paying attention you’ll get yet another toolbar and more.

Install a toolbar and see what happen
Toolbar vendors create an internal search battle. Often
 toolbars will change your search preferences without asking

In January 2008 I wrote about my invitation from to include their toolbar in my WinPatrol program.  Would You like Toolbar with your Software Order?

“I crunched the numbers and sure enough the revenue I could receive by including the toolbar would be huge. My overhead is low and the free version of WinPatrol has many thousand downloads even on the slowest day. If I chose to include the tool bar I could probably retire comfortably by the end of the year.

Unfortunately, a number of people think I’m a good guy and I respect their opinion. For the last ten years WinPatrol has had a flawless reputation. I know myself, I really hate companies that install additional software that I didn’t ask for. It’s not only rude, it’s just wrong.”

I’m not alone.  You can find a list of vendors who have partnered with on the web site, Calendar of Updates. Click on Installers Hall of Shame.

Setup for Foxit
Apparently, if you remove the check you lose some functionality.

Setup for TrillianAt least Trillian allowed me to cancel the install but check the
terms of service.  "... the right to add additional features or 
to the existing Toolbar....the Toolbar periodically
communicates with our servers....  the update may occur automatically."

So, I was surprised when I received an Email from yesterday inviting me to partner and again consider including the Toolbar.

Ask Toolbar Invitation

It sounds like I could generate more revenue but at what cost to WinPatrol fans?  I think if they wanted yet another toolbar, they’re smart enough to find one. Thanks for the offer John, but this is a bonus I still don’t want.


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Blogger Richard said...

Bravo, Bill. You are indeed one of the good guys.

Is there any chance that WinPatrol could include a feature that, if checked, would prevent a toolbar from being installed in your browser? (The user would have to uncheck it to install a toolbar they wanted.) Or possibly do it the way you do with changes to your start-up programs: warn you and require you to say OK or No Way?

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill P.,
I'm thankful for WinPatrol
cause if a sneaky toolbar like ( )gets on my PC I can stop
it. I use zonealarm but the latest download I could not uncheck that
toolbar and I was warned by WinPatrol and stopped it. Tell John
from if we want it we would download it. If zonealarm keeps it up I'll be looking for a new firewall.
The short of it is you
can lose business in the future cause persons like me will look elsewere that do not include crap
you do not for!!!
Yes Bill you ARE one of the few good guys left. 3 cheers!!!

1:13 PM  
Blogger TeMerc said...

Those assclowns at Ask don't give up do they?

I guess they're used to dealing with greedy scumbag vendors who care more about the bottom line than anything else.

Coming across someone with the moral fortitude to tell you to shove it is something they don't understand.

Bravo Bill.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous TheManRetired said...

Thank you Bill for putting that useless crippleware with a very worthy program. I used the freeware version for a month and found out how good it was and paid for it, it is because of your smarts I have never had any hesitation in recommending your program.

Thank You.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Andrew W. said...

I'm not a big fan of those toolbars but if there is an option to not install them, its really a non-issue. Especially with a program like WinPatrol that you know your getting quality for free. Products like that have to make money somehow and if a toolbar is the method you choose, i will simply click dont install and be on my way.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Tregonsee said...

Well said, BillP!

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outstanding, Bill. Thank you, once again.

WinPatrol save my butt, recently, when a Foxit install slipped an Ask Toolbar by me (and I consider myself fairly vigilante when installing software). They had just added the pre-checked option, and called it a Foxit Toolbar.

Scottie warned me, and I was able to stop it from being installed.

Not too many left with a sense of ethical practice.

Brian (AKA The Dean)

5:08 PM  
Blogger George, Group Admin said...

Good for you. I hate the bloat and additional cr#% to track down and uninstall, along with a registry search for every instance of ToolBarcr#$ data.


8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These comments leave me feeling like I walked into a movie in the middle of it...
They make no sense to the uninformed...
I actually do not know what Winpatrol is...
So I do not know the complaint...
As with any toolbar, if you pay attention, you uncheck the box that downloads toolbars automatically...
What is the problems guys???
I have 5 toolbars on my webpage and I have no complaints...
Other than I wish there was some way to get all the info I want on just one toobar, I need all of mine for different reasons...
They all have itmes on them I would lose out on otherwise and not be able to find...
So I keep them all to help me...
Yes they take up space, but again I find I need them for different reasons...If I give any up, I don't have access to many sites I like to go to andwouldn't see any longer and have to search for things...I think I will keep mine just the same...

9:04 PM  
Blogger Tsen said...

hiya Bill;

It's great to know that your intention to keep Winpatrol clean from those unwanted toolbar program, this show there are still people out there that choose reputation over better profit from their products. Keep up the good work Bill!!!


10:18 PM  
Blogger Gordon Bennet said...

Thanks, Bill. Integrity may not always pay in dollars, but it pays in respect.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Donna Buenaventura said...

Thank you Bill for saying no to the 2nd attempt by them!

12:31 AM  
Anonymous Maik said...

People who want toolbars are quite at liberty to download them. Those of us who don't shouldn't have them foisted upon us. Thanks for the stand, Bill, it's appreciated.

2:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,
I so appreciate your integrity, but I also wonder if there is a way for you to receive (over)due compensation for your great work.

Could Win Patrol possibly be tweaked (by you, on the download page)to warn of the necessity to uncheck the acceptance of the toolbar if it is not wanted?

Forewarning should take care of the problem of accidently downloading it, while still affording you some much-earned compensation.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All what i want to say is: Thank you BILL!

7:37 PM  
Blogger LilBambi said...

That is awesome Bill!

Thank you for being the trustworthy guy we all know you to be!!!

As soon as I can, I am going to buy WinPatrol for my Windows box to just say thank you!!!!!

Thanks so much for being there!

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I purchased WinPatrol Plus from you! Let's hope Ask gets the message this time that you're not interested!

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Bob (SE PA) said...

The primary reason that I don't have Adobe Reader is because I got tired of Adobe trying to foist a toolbar on me at every install. I switched to Sumatra.

It really does make a difference.

Thank you for rejecting crapware. I stopped recommending software that attempts to foist 3rd party nonsense on me.

Bravo to you.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting responses one and all, some quite vocally opposed and some who are somewhat less polarised

I certainly hunt down and remove Ask toolbar installations if I accidently install it on my PC (as I did recently by clicking through without paying attention) but I'm not sure if I am so polarised against it that I would condemn a vendor for using it as a revenue stream

Security software could easily have a 'remove unwanted toolbar' function, even if they happen to package an unwanted toolbar in with their product

It does depend on the revenue model, if the money is for the install and not for the duration that the product stays on the computer then its wasy for the user to remove if they install it by accident and easy to opt out of if you pay attention to the installation dialogs

As far as silent (or non-obvious) installations of anything like this I would agree with TeMerc...

1:14 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I've used WinPatrol for years. Free at first, but decided early on that I could learn much more with the additional information and links that the Plus version provides.
Thanks for a great program at a very nominal fee.

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow Bill, you are a rare and dieing breed, one I like to consider myself a part of. The kind of person that wants to please the customer (even with free stuff) and not be nagging all the time 'would you like alot of stuff you'll never use but it would make me alot of money'. again, Thank You. I love winpatrol and use it ALOT. Vital, is a word I'd use to describe your program.

10:52 PM  
Anonymous portia419 said...

I find that Google is more annoying than Google is every where and with a slip of a click, it will be on your toolbar and is hard to get rid of! AIM is another one I have had issues with. These things only happen when my children use my computer! Of course that doesn't happen very often!

12:39 AM  
Blogger Sanguinius Constantine said...

I would like to thank you Bill, it's not very often that anyone comes across a programmer that thinks about their customers and the general public before the money bug.
I've used winpatrol in the past and found it to be a great addition in utilizing the most from a pc. Which is why I always install the freeware version on my clients computers when they want one built and advise them to purchase the full product.

With regards to some of the users comments regarding installing toolbars, and especially to the dude that has 5 toolbars installed on his computer. Dude I seriously feel for you, I just hope that you first of all are security aware, there are some toolbars that are pretty nasty. But getting back on track. has not given me any valid efforts in searches, I've had better responses from yahoo search. But will NEVER give up contacting you. Only because they constantly check up just on how much traffic goes to your site, and they try to monopolize on that. so its the users that are affected.. Once again Bill I thank you, and Commend you on being considerate to the public.

1:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Toolbars are annoying and intrusive and often install on top of each other.As for me it is my policy to do away with any toolbar and that includes the product or products it came with.

3:37 AM  
Blogger David Rosen said...

I think you could ask them whether they would allow an opt-in configuration (toolbar not installed by default) --- even if that meant they would pay you less.

10:05 AM  
Blogger David Rosen said...

I recently saw a Yahoo! toolbar appear in my browser. I couldn't find any way to determine how it got installed. Just by chance I remembered that Java sometimes includes this. I had recently updated Java due to security fixes. I think it's completely outrageous that installing a security update should install some new browser toolbar by default. I like Java but this definitely makes me think twice about using the Java platform for end user client or browser functionality.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why do they push toolbars when with ie7 you can change your search engine from within it at the top right corner.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos on your stance, Bill! It's a rare one in today's cutthroat online culture and you've made me even happier to have been a long time Win Patrol user.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Bill!
I'm a firefox user and I don't use IE
"Any Version" unless something requires it. I use various bits of software and I check carefully for unwanted extra software during installs so I won't get any extra
"unwanted things like Toolbars" on
my browser. And Yahoo are
useless as far as I'm concerned!
The default Google works just fine for me as it remembers my searches
so it when I type something in it lists everything for me so I can select what I want.
Besides; Could you imagine what your browser window what look like with a bunch of toolbars attached to the top of it?

7:02 PM  
Blogger Sr. Mina, BSP said...

*applauds* I still love you for being the good guy. No worries, its a sisterly love!

It wastes my time to carefully check each installation's pages to see if there's an ominous auto-checked item that got bundled in. I don't appreciate such foistware. When Adobe Acrobat started doing that, that started my road to boycotting foistware.

So I use any safe [and already scanned] freeware that has no foistware with it. There's even alternatives to Java, not just .pdf readers. You don't have to put up with foistware just because software companies pass up their customers' loyalty in favour of extra cash.

3:06 AM  
Anonymous Southbound said...

It really all boils down to this: I downloaded WinPatrol because I wanted it on my machine. If I wanted the or any other toolbar (why anyone would want that crap is a mystery to me) I would have downloaded it too. I didn't cause I don't. Thanks for sticking to your guns.

3:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of all the Bars I love, the Pig and Porcupine is best. The VERY worst is that slimy Browser "Ask Toolbar" which beguiles like a serpent, ruining the reputations of Firefox, and other otherwise reputable companies. Anything to do with Ask Toolbar is a misnomer anyway - they don't, they just slip in when you are not on top form.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Stu said...

For those that don't know what WinPatrol is, please go here:
and read the USA Today statement. It's WONDERFUL protection software that has "saved my butt" many times.

Thank you Bill for WinPatrol and for being a person that puts his customers and friends ahead of profit. You are an exceptional person.

3:07 PM  
Blogger magiccrpet said...

Thank you Bill for putting integrity before profit. Winpatrol has stopped Real player countless times from putting TkBell in startup and memory. A big ol' woof to you!

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much Bill for being there for us. I was a free winpatrol subscriber and was surprised that I wasn't being harassed or hounded about becomming a paying member. Your one time charge is amazing too as you have one of the best services around. I have had the paid version for a few years now and know, even control all of what is going on in my computer all the time. I enjoy the way each thing running on my computer "explained" in layman's terms on the paid version of win patrol! You're the MAN Bill!!! Thanks again, Max.

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bill, can I please install the Ask bar?

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A sincere thank you, Bill, for having such intergrity.

1:08 AM  
Anonymous @Fred_vdH said...

!Hear Hear : thanks!

2:01 AM  
Anonymous Trash C 2/16 Rangers 65 - 66 said...

Bill, your integrity transcends the highest expectations of even the most discerning student of high character. Thank you for being .. you.

Trash C 2/16 Rangers 65 - 66

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

Thank you, Bill. It's good to see that not everyone is greedy.
I will continue to use & recomend WinPatrol Plus to everyone I know.
Since I'm the neighborhood's IT person, I hope it generates lots of sales for you. Would miss you (& Scotty) if you weren't around.

4:57 PM  

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