OpenCandy is a technology that software companies can add to installers to earn money from optional software offers that are based on a system scan and the user's location in the world. That's different from software installers that always include the same type of offering, the Babylon Toolbar or the Ask Toolbar for instance, regardless of the user's location in the world or whether the toolbars are already installed on the system.
According to the FAQ on the OpenCandy website, the installer queries the company server for a list of recommended apps for the user location, operating system and language and checks those against the installed applications on the system and prerequisites that those programs may depend on. The first recommendation to pass all tests is then selected and presented to the user in the installer.
OpenCandy sends anonymous statistics back to the server which is used to improve the technology and to provide software companies with analytic insights.
Here is a typical installer that is using Open Candy. You should see an OpenCandy EULA link on the first screen which reveals to you that OpenCandy is being used by the installer.
Applications powered by OpenCandy
This is a short incomplete list of application installers that are powered by OpenCandy technology:
- Daemon Tools
- Extract Now
- Free Video Converter
- IE7 Pro
- Orbit Downloader
As you can see, this includes many popular applications. According to OpenCandy, hundreds of applications are powered by the technology.
What OpenCandy collects
- operating system version and language
- country location
- language of the software installer
- if the installer was completed or canceled
- if a third party recommendation was made, and whether it was accepted or declined
- if the recommendation was downloaded and the installer initiated
- if the installation completed successfully
According to the FAQ, Open Candy does not collect personally identifiably information about the PC or user. The company notes that it does not collect or store IP addresses.
Is OpenCandy adware?
The answer depends on the definition of adware. According to Wikipedia, adware is any software package which automatically renders advertisements. The answer must be yes then, as OpenCandy displays automatic advertisement for another software product during the installation process.
While it is certainly is adware, it is not spyware or malicious in nature. It does not install software without the user's consent nor does it place tracking software or files of its own on the user system.
Can you bypass OpenCandy?
Some programs support the /NOCANDY parameter which you can add to the run command when you start the installer to bypass OpenCandy during installation. While this works with some applications, it does not seem to work with all that you may come across.
Should you avoid software that comes bundled with OpenCandy?
This is obviously a question that only you can answer for yourself. I do not really mind the program for as long as it is not collecting personally identifiable information, adding software or files without user consent on the system, or trying to hide or sneak by in other means.
I'd still recommend to pay attention to the installation dialog and try the /nocandy parameter whenever you install software that comes bundled with OpenCandy.