Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
From InfoAve Premium Issue #92 - July 22, 2005
Updated on September 4, 2005 (see notes at bottom)
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The Pharmer In The Dell
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. Apparently, Dell is now setting their new computers' home page to
or some variation thereof and make it
very difficult for
the purchaser to change it It seems that Dell
wants their computer customers "hooked" to
the MyWay home and search page (click
here). 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.
We have learned from numerous sources that Dell is pre-installing
MyWay Speedbar or MyWebSearch on its new Dimension
desktop and Inspiron laptop 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 (like
one and a half screens of advertisements disguised as relevant
search results is no "enhancement". And
setting your home page to their MyWay start page and
difficult for you to change it, is no benefit to
you, and certainly not an "enhancement".
If you want to see how
far Dell has gone with this, you'll want to visit
(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 exposť at
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
shown that Ask Jeeves is 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). Not only is the term "Babes"
offensive to women, most of whom 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.
- 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.
Would anti-spyware software remove it if it were
really an enhancement? Hmmm?
- 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".
But, that may not be quite that easy to do.
Here is an example of MyWebSearch/MyWay causing
problems on a Dell customer's PC.
- 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, it seems, makes it hard for its Dell
Dimension and Inspiron laptop customers to choose
their own preferred start page. Dell would rather, it appears,
force you into keeping MyWay as your home page.
Read the information here
here. The only reason why
is money. Your preferences? Who cares?
- Dell tries to make you feel you're getting
something of great value when they "give" you the
MyWay Speed Bar "free!". Here's what Dell says -
"The Dell My Way Speedbar is an
internet browser toolbar plug-in that comes
pre-installed on select Dimension and Inspiron
systems. This product is offered free of charge by
Dell and MyWay.com to Dell customers." (See
this page). Now check out what a search for
MyWay Speedbar and spyware turns up -
click here. MyWay would be HAPPY to give
you the same toolbar free too! Obviously! So, gee,
dude, you're getting something very special FREE
from Dell. Sigh!
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. In my
opinion, Ask Jeeves, still riding on its once good
reputation, sold Dell
a bill of goods. I think, it's obvious, that Ask Jeeves
paid Dell a lot of
money to put questionable software on its new Inspiron
laptops and Dimension desktops. 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 just
read our rant .
Dell has often stated that spyware
generates the most calls to its Support Center. So,
either Dell has some very greedy, but out-of-touch 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 start page and its MyWay
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,
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 Speedbar 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. 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 Desktop or Inspiron Laptop, it's going to affect you too.
Dell does seem to respond quickly to
press and some 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 ill-advised move. (Read
more about this here.) You'll notice though, that
they only moved their Business Support Center back to
the United States for big business customers
(because of all the complaints about poor support and
not being able to understand the support techs).
However, if you're not a big business customer,
and just a small business customer or home user, it
appears you'll just have to put up with
hard-to-understand support staffers and less-than-great
All this makes me wonder just what kind
of greed is driving Dell these days? Don't they
care anymore or are their executives really this foolish?
Don't these people do any research? Don't they do their
homework before they go and make such ludicrous decisions? Are
they really this out-of-touch?
It scares me to think that we have
well-educated executives running major corporations who
make decisions like these. Foolish and ill-advised 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
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?
aren't going to buy the pitch that MyWay Speedbar, MyWebSearch, etc.
are "enhancements". At least I hope not. So many
popular anti-spyware programs remove these items, umm, I
mean "enhancements", it would be hard to keep it from
As long as they think that way, they show
that they care more about money than the do about customers.
I cannot imagine one good reason why Dell would
pre-install MyWay Speedbar (or MyWebSearch toolbar)
unless they were paid a great deal of money to do so.
Dell keeps making terrible, ill-advised
decisions. Moving their support center to India to save money. They as much as admitted their
mistake by moving their big business support center back to
the United States (but apparently leaving small business
and consumer support in India). They were
caught advertising via adware and spyware.
But they quickly retreated when the news about this spread.
Doesn't Dell yet realize that consumers
are getting more savvy all the time? Apparently not. If
Dell keeps making serious errors in business judgment,
eventually they will have neither customers or money. No
company is too big to be toppled by horrible management
decisions. How many once-prosperous American companies
have gone belly-up because of poor management? Quite a
few. Maybe Dell should Ask Jeeves for help.
I doubt if I will ever buy another Dell computer. I
doubt if our small business will ever buy another Dell. Maybe
if enough people feel the same way Dell will finally get the message. And, then again,
maybe not. Recently, It seems they've made one bad decision
Finally, even if
MyWay Speedbar, MyWay Web Portal,
MyWebSearch were the most benign of programs, they
could never be honestly described as "enhancements" to a
computer. I can understand Dell setting a new computer's
browser home page to
www.dell.com at the factory. I can always change it. But, if what we've read is
true and Dell makes it difficult for the customer to
change the browser's homepage settings and installs an
unnecessary toolbar (one that is detected by most
well-known anti-spyware programs) then someone at Dell
has, once again, made a very foolish decision. One that
will have an extremely negative impact on Dell's image
as an industry leader.
Write to Dell and tell them what you think.
Dude? I'm not gettin' a Dell!
Related Articles -
While Dell and MyWay Speedbar euphemistically
proclaim on their main sites that MyWay Speedbar not
adware or spyware and can easily be removed by simply
going to Control Panel ---> Add or Remove Programs, as
you can see by this page, that is not, in any sense,
true. You have to use a rather lengthy procedure to get
this program off of your computer completely. For less
skilled computer users this may be more than they are
able to do. Neither Dell or MyWay (Ask Jeeves)mention anywhere that the easiest way to remove
MyWay Speedbar is to use a good anti-spyware program
like SpySweeper or Spybot Search and Destroy. Wonder why
they don't mention that?
Dell Forums - visit and see how many are upset about
MyWay and MyWay Speedbar, (more junk from AskJeeves).
Tell us what you think - Please
*Pharmer is a word we coined to conjure up in your mind
a pharm field in your computer where crops are harvested.
Only these crops are harvested electronically and remotely,
not for your benefit, but for the benefit of whomever planted
the pharm on your computer. So, the pharmer in the Dell
refers to Ask Jeeves, MyWay, MyWebSearch and whatever else
Dell is being paid big money to "plant" on new Dell Dimension
desktops and Dell Inspiron notebooks.
* Dear Dell - Here is
what the term "Enhancement" means according to
1. A change to a product which is intended to
make it better in some way, e.g. new functions,
Download a free trial and check your computer. You can't
lose- you can only win!
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