I have to admit that I’m not downloading many files from Cnet’s download.com software portal. I usually prefer direct downloads from developer sites. Sometimes however developers link to the downloads on download.com instead of offering the downloads on their sites. This can make sense from a business perspective, but removes some of the controls they have over the user experience.
I also try to use download portals if the developer site does not offer direct downloads, for instance by forcing users to register or fill out a web form before downloads become available.
Today I wanted to download Dr.Web CureIt and the first site that came up in Google Search was Cnet’s Download.com.
I never had problems with downloads on Cnet before, but this one got me puzzled at first. Instead of allowing me to download the setup file directly, a 400 Kilobyte web installer was downloaded.
I first thought that the developers of CureIt had provided the installer, turned out I was wrong. Cnet, at least for this download and probably for all downloads on the site, is not offering direct links to those setup files anymore. Instead, a web downloader, called CNET Download.com installer, is provided.
This in itself is problematic as it means that users need to run the download.com installer first to download the setup file of the software that they initially wanted to download. That’s additional work for the user.
The real problem here however is that the web installer is pushing the Babylon toolbar. Users who do not pay attention to the download process will install the Babylon Toolbar, make Babylon their default search engine and homepage of their browsers.
Cnet is without doubt generating lots of revenue from the web installer, considering that the toolbar installation options are enabled by default, and that most users click Next Next Next when it comes to installation processes.
The CNET Download.com Installer is clearly adware. It might make sense to use a different download portal in the future, especially if you do not want to download the 400 Kilobyte web installer every time you download a file from the download site. Good alternatives are Softpedia and Major Geeks.
Have you encountered the CNET Download.com Installer? What’s your opinion?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.