The Pharmer in The Dell – Rewind
*** Please read the important notice at the end of this article; it will explain why so many links have been remove and/or do not work)
(This article was originally written in 2005. The reason we’re republishing it will become obvious when you read the end of this article. Little has changed — computer makers still load their computers with trialware, junkware and ransomware. So read all the way through this: the letter from Dell, which prompted this re-issue of this article is at the end.)
Just when we thought that Dell was returning to a more consumer-oriented mode and being responsive to its customers like it once was, we discovered something new about Dell.
Those of you who read and responded to Dell based on our “Rant” of a few months ago, will be pleased to learn that Dell withdrew its advertisements from adware and spyware programs. The public outcry from you and many others forced their hand. I suppose it was embarrassing to whomever made the asinine decision to subsidize the scourges of the Internet by paying to advertise with them, but it was probably the very bad P.R. that forced Dell to end its substantial patronage of adware and spyware programs. As far as we know, Dell no longer buys advertising from adware or spyware companies.
But, before you break out the champagne and caviar and prepare to celebrate another blow to spyware and adware, you’d better read what follows. For, if you thought placing advertisements and Dell subsidizing the miscreants who pander adware and spyware was bad, wait until you read what Dell is doing now.
We have learned from numerous sources that Dell is pre-installing MyWay Speedbar or MyWebSearch on its new computers. Worse, it’s trying to make customers believe that this is an “enhancement”. In this case the term “enhancement” is a not a euphemism, it’s flat-out prevarication. A search bar that shows you one and a half screens of advertisements disguised as relevant search results is no “enhancement”. If you want to see how far Dell has gone with this, you’ll want to visithttp://dell.myway.com/ (MyWay, MyWay Speedbar, MyWebSearch, MySearch, FunWebProducts, SmileyCentral, et. al. are all owned by Ask Jeeves). And, trust me, this is not just me blowing in the wind. If you remember we did a pretty good workup on Ask Jeeves and its questionable marketing methods and products. You can read this exposé at http://thundercloud.net/infoave/askjeeves-rant.htm
Additionally, we understand that Dell is now setting the new computer’s home page to http://dell.myway.com/ or some variation thereof and make it very difficult for the purchaser to change it by using a registry hook (more about that later). Now we like you people a whole bunch but we weren’t prepared to call up Dell and order a $1200.00 PC just to see what else Dell installs. But, given the MyWebSearch, MySearch and MyWay fiasco, it’s a good bet that some of Ask Jeeves other goodies (FunWebProducts) are finding their way onto new PCs.Now whether or not these products qualify as adware or spyware is arguable.
We’ve clearly shown that SmileyCentral is, at best, adware. Ben Edelman has clearly shown that Ask Jeeves and its FunWebProducts are not above sneaky installations (let me point out that Ask Jeeves denies this and blames it on errant, affiliates, uh huh). We’ve shown as well as Ben Edelman that Ask Jeeves targets kids and provides some very juicy content (if one were a pre-pubescent boy) which most agree would not be good general fare for the young children. I’m talking about the infamous “PopularScreenSaver’s Bikini Babes” (PopularScreenSavers is yet another arm of Ask Jeeves’ FunWebProducts). Not only is the term “Babes” offensive to women who would rather not be thought of as sexual objects, but young woman displaying their wares in bikinis with no tops is not the kind of thing that should be pandered to children via kids sites. Ya think? Be that as it may, there are other things wrong with Dell installing questionable software like MyWebSearch, MyWay on new computers. It’s unnecessary for one thing. It’s not an enhancement, if anything it is problematic. Here’s why:
It’s a fact that MyWebSearch, MySearch (and all its other incarnations) are detected and removed by most good anti-spyware software. We know that Spybot Search and Destroy and SpySweeper (Webroot) detect and remove MyWebSearch. The last time we used Microsoft’s Windows Anti-Spyware (which we no longer recommend) it detected and removed MyWebSearch. Many other anti-spyware programs we’ve tried also detect and remove it.
There are numerous reports on the Internet about problems uninstalling MyWebSearch (etc.) via the Control Panel’s Add or Remove Programs applet. In fact some of these are on Dell’s own forum. This article by John Leydon of The Register makes several good points. And, Dell’s defense of its latest marketing blunder seems rather illogical. Basically, their defense is: “If you don’t like it turn it off”. Comments from a Webmaster forum, give you some insight into how legitimate Webmasters feel about MyWay/MyWebSearch and some of the nasty tricks they use.
There are many references on the Web of people having problems with or uninstalling MyWebSearch as a quick search using Google shows . Ben Edelman exposes Ask Jeeves/FunWebProducts/MyWebSearch in one of his typical, flawlessly researched articles. This is a must read.
Dell apparently installs a what’s called a “hook” into the Registry so if you try to uninstall MyWebSearch (or MyWay, MySearch) it comes back when you reboot. For references and examples of this read the information here.
It doesn’t take long to learn that Ask Jeeves’ MyWebSearch, MySearch, FunWebProducts, and MyWay are certainly not enhancements. But, Dell wants you to think it is. And you know why, course. Money, Money, Money. Ask Jeeves, still limping along on its once good reputation sold Dell a bill of goods – in other words they paid Dell a lot of money to look the other way. Ask Jeeves, will do anything to try to catch Google. But, Google didn’t buy their way to the top by installing questionable products on your computer. And, Google’s toolbar is not recognized by anyone that we know of as spyware/adware/hijacker or worse. But, Ask Jeeves’ MyWay Speedbar, MyWebSearch (MySearch) tool bar sure is. Just do a search for MyWay Speedbar + spyware or MyWebSearch + spyware and see what happens. And most good anti-spyware programs will detect and remove these items but not Google’s toolbar. Google toolbar does no harm. Ask Jeeves’ MyWay Speedbar, MyWebSearch and FunWebProducts? Well justread our rant .Dell has often stated that spyware generates the most calls to its Support Center.
So, either Dell has some very greedy but stupid executives or they were sold a complete bill-of-goods by Ask Jeeves’ executives. One thing is for sure. Ask Jeeves must have paid Dell a huge sum of money to get Dell to make this brainless move. Now, Ask Jeeves has its MyWay, (or MyWebSearch, MySearch) on every new Dell Dimension and Inspiron that Dell ships. I noticed too, that Dell puts this stuff on the low-end models which are the most likely to be adversely affected by unnecessary start-up programs – but which, I imagine, because of price, are the biggest sellers.
Now all this is bad enough – but an announcement made recently by Dell really makes sad commentary on a once consumer-responsive American company. Just read this article. When I did, knowing what I know about Dell sleeping with Ask Jeeves, I swore I’ll never buy another Dell again. Between the two of us and our kids we’ve purchased seven new Dells in the past 4 years. This might be just a drop-in-the-bucket to Dell, but if enough of you are as outraged as we are, Dell is going to wish it would have Asked Jeeves a few more questions before taking their money.Dell is installing MyWay, MyWebSearch on its new computers and calling it an enhancement.
Most anti-spyware removes what Dell calls an “enhancement”. Dell decides to start a “Geek Squad” of its own, using remote computer access and contracted employees, to bring Dell support to consumers’ homes. Some of the issues they address as causing a lot of computer woes are adware, spyware and virus. Now, for a fee, Dell will assist you in removing adware, spyware, junkware, viruses, etc.. Huh? They put some junk on your new computer before you ever fired it up and want you to pay them to take it off. That’s what it seems like to me.It’s time to let Dell know what you think. A few months ago they were advertising with spyware and adware companies until someone caught them with their little digital fingers in the pie. They quickly changed directions. A few month later they’re back at it again. Only this time, they are trying to pull one over on their customers. Dell is actually calling something an “enhancement” that most good anti-spyware programs remove. And, if you buy a new Dell Dimension or Inspiron, it’s going to affect you too.
Write to Dell and tell them what you think. Let them know that as long as they are going to pump your computer full of questionable “enhancements” you’re not going to buy a Dell. Period. It may come as surprise to Dell, but there are some pretty good computers being built that don’t have the name “Dell” on them. Click here to let them know you don’t want want a pharmer in your Dell. You don’t want MyWay, MyWebSearch, or any of its other clones on pharming on your new computer. If buying a Dell means having a pharmer in your Dell, you don’t want one.Dell does seem to respond quickly to bad press and user dissatisfaction. When they moved their Dell Support Center to India and outsourced the jobs, they quickly retreated back to the good, old USA, after being soundly criticized for this dumb move. (Read more about this here.)
All this makes me wonder just what kind of greedy ignorance is driving Dell these days? Don’t they care anymore or are their executives really this stupid? Don’t these people do any research? Don’t they do their homework before they go and make such ludicrous decisions?It scares me to think that we have supposedly well-educated executives running major corporations who make decisions like these. Terrible, ill-conceived, flat-out dumb decisions. It’s what happens when money is the only consideration. Now, Dell will have to fumble around and figure out how to keep the fallout from their latest blunder from further discrediting their already declining image. Maybe they ought to Ask Jeeves for the answer. Ya think?Once again Dell proves it is the bottom line that drives their company above all else.
It appears to me that Dell thinks its customers are mindless and wouldn’t know a rainforest from a Pop Tart Do they really think their customers are that naive? They aren’t going to buy the pitch that MyWay, MyWebSearch, etc. are “enhancements”. No, not when so many well-respected anti-spyware programs remove these items, umm, I mean “enhancements”.As long as they think that way they show that they care more about money than the do about customers.
I have news for Dell. Computer consumers are getting more savvy by the day. If Dell keeps thinking that way, they won’t have either customers or money. And, then Dell might have to Ask Jeeves for help. I hope so. It would serve them right. You know, maybe those two deserve each other.I for one will never buy another Dell computer. Our company won’t buy another Dell computer, and maybe now, you’ll think twice before buying one too.
I simply don’t trust Dell anymore.
Note: Dell wrote to us recently not to criticize the content of this article, but because they wanted us to correct the links which are no longer correct. I was shocked that Dell obviously doesn’t refute what we say, the merely wanted to make sure we corrected the links.
It’s heartening to me to see that Vizio will be introducing a line of Desktops, Laptops and Ultrabooks completely devoid of junkware and trialware. Maybe Dell, HP and the other will take note and finally offer the consumer great computers that run great.
It’s always amazed me that Dell and other computer makers load their systems down with junkware and trialware which makes their computer perform worse. Why would a computer maker do this? MONEY. Norton and McAfee and other companies pay Dell, HP and others to put their software on new computers. This slows down new computers and can be costly to consumers who simply figure if Dell,et al put Norton, McAfee, etc. on their computers at the factory, it must be good. Nothing is further from the truth and consumers get locked in to paying Norton, McAfee and others, a yearly ransom for as long as these companies can keep them in the dark.
There’s not a single bit of proof that Norton or McAfee protect your computer better than free or lower cost antivirus programs and security suite. So in a way, Dell, HP and others are reaping huge profits from the uninformed consumer — and helping to lock them in to paying annual ransom payments to Norton, McAfee and others.
Maybe Vizio will lead the way to integrity by building beautiful computers which perform well because they’re not weighed down by junkware, trialware and ransomware.
Here, in it’s entirety, is the letter from Dell, with the corrected links:
The Dell Web team noticed that you currently have a link on this page [http://thundercloud.net/infoave/pharmer-rant.htm] that is pointing to a deleted page on our Dell.com site. Things are always changing with Dell.com to ensure our content is fresh and beneficial to our users.
We need your help.
We are grateful that your site has links to Dell pages, and would appreciate if you could update this link to point to this page [http://support.dell.com/support/index.aspx?c=us&cs=555&l=en&s=biz].
The content on this new page has been refreshed but is the same messaging as before. Changing this link will help your visitors have a better user experience on your site and show them the best matching content on our site.
Here is the list of URL’s which would benefit from an update because they are currently broken links:
Anchor Text Used
write to dell
OLD Dell link
New Dell Link
Dell Web Team
(Most of the inks were removed from this article on 12/02/2015 because they no longer work or are irrelevant. Since this article was written, several of these companies referenced have gone out of business. Also the only antivirus/antimalware you need is Emsisoft. When this article was orginally written, we were not aware of Emsisoft. So please try to keep in mind that most of this article was originally written a decade ago when the Web was a very different place. TC & EB 12/02/2015. )