CNET (Download.com) Introduces ‘CNET Enabled Installer’

CNET Logo

CNET (download.com) has been around for many years (specifically since 1996) and has got to be one of the most, if not the most, popular download directory website on the Internet.  It is also a great way for software developers to get their new products ‘out there’ and gain some much needed publicity and marketing for them.

However, CNET has now decided to implement what we call ‘value added installers’.  This, I suppose, is the polite way of putting ‘extra crap that you probably don’t want’.  Think of it along the lines of the ‘value added’ leaflets that get shoved through your door on a regular basis!

CNET Installer Enabled Download Button

Some of our eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that some of the distinctive green download buttons for software products now also contain the text “CNET installer enabled’.  All sounds very fancy, but what does it mean?

Well in the words of CNET it means:

“The CNET Download.com Installer is a tiny ad-supported stub installer or “download manager” that helps securely deliver your downloads from Download.com’s servers. We also include offers for carefully screened software that complies with Download.com Software Policies as part of our Installer process.”

So a basic translation is, that there is some extra content that you haven’t requested included in your download.  But is it necessary?  Well it’s certainly not necessarily and most likely has nothing to do with your original download.  In fact, its probably just as useful as all those junk mail flyers that you recently placed in your dustbin.

By ‘ad-supported’ CNET are possibly referring to software developers who have paid to be advertised on the Download.com website.  Again, these ads are likely to be pulled from the Internet during the installation process – again unlikely to be very helpful and in most cases, most definitely unwelcome.

Now, DPS Computing have tried out the ‘CNET Installer’ and there’s really very little (in most cases nothing) to be gained for the end user.  The CNET installer that you download basically take you through the very pretty process of installing…….. an installer!  Yes, CNET Installer installs the installer for the software that you originally wanted to install in the first place!  Sorry for all the installs in that last sentence!

We tried this out with SpeedFan and our ‘valued added content’ was ‘CNET Tech Tracker’ (surprise, surprise!).  Readers of the DPS blog will be aware that we wrote an article regarding CNET TechTracker earlier this month, and overall it is definitely not something we want on our machines.

CNET TechTracker Logo

On the second screen of the CNET installer we were shown a glossy advertisement for TechTracker with a checkbox saying that we were happy to have this installed as well – it was already ticked.  In our attempt to actually get the program we requested installed we were clicking rather fast, and just about managed to see, to our horror, that just as we clicked ‘next’ on the Installer we had effectively agreed, by not opting out, to installing TechTracker.

With horrible nightmares coming back from how hard CNET TechTracker was to uninstall last time, we furiously click on the ‘Cancel’ button at least 20 times. The installer closes.  Phew, that was a close one.  “Remember, we need to uncheck that box when we restart it”.

It’s at this moment that the worst thing imaginable starts to happen – despite cancelling the installer when it was at around 1-2%, around 1 minute later, TechTracker icons start appearing on the desktop.  OK, this is weird.  Then the computer starts grinding to a halt.  We wait another couple of minutes to see what’s happened, has this installer started to hang our system?  Oh no, don’t worry, despite cancelling the installation TechTracker has gone on and installed itself anyway!

We now go through the entire boring process of removing TechTracker, for the second time this month.  So, our first experience of using the CNET enabled installer was that we only got installed software we didn’t actually want, and didn’t get the software we did want installed, installed on our system.  Well, we got the installer of SpeedFan installed, which then we would have to run to actually install the program.

Sounds like a faff?  Well you’d be right!  Sadly, the days seem to be coming to an end when you can just get what you actually asked for!  We’ve all be used to ‘extras’ being offered during the install process but these have been bearable because they’re normally not too intrusive or time consuming and are actually within the installer of the software that we want.

It seems now that CNET enabled installer ensures that there is an installer for the installer of the software – which is not only frustrating but time consuming.  It’s interesting to note that not everything is packaged with this additional installer – popular software such as Firefox isn’t currently bundled with this unnecessary installer.  The reasons behind which downloads are or are not bundled with CNET enabled installer isn’t clear – although one possibility is that some of the more popular software developers have objected to it’s inclusion?  Maybe CNET require permission from the software developer to bundle their products with CNET enabled installer?

However the one good thing is that CNET enabled installer software all seems to have (for them moment) a “Direct Download” link below the big green button. Which means that you can avoid the advertising nightmare that is CNET enabled installer.  So thumbs up for CNET doing this!

So, if you want to avoid any surprises and save time and bandwidth, don’t forget to use the direct download link and avoid CNET enabled installer like the plague!  After all, if you wanted this ‘extra software’, you’d just go out and get it!

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