Eightball and Thundercloud's RANT

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.

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 MyWebSearch) that shows you 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 making it 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 http://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 exposť at http://thundercloud.net/infoave/askjeeves-rant.htm

Apparently, Dell is now setting their new computers' home page to http://dell.myway.com/ 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.

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 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. Here's why:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 and here. The only reason why is money. Your preferences? Who cares?
  5. 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 Speedbar 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, 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 some bad 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 service

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 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? People simply 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 the consumer.

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. Can you?

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 after another.

Finally, even if  MyWay Speedbar, MyWay Web Portal, and/or 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 - http://castlecops.com/a6162-The_Dell_and_My_Way_Saga.html

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 www.dictionary.com :


1. A change to a product which is intended to make it better in some way, e.g. new functions, faster, (etc)...

Download a free trial and check your computer..you can't lose..try it and see.
Download a free trial and check your computer. You can't lose- you can only win!

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Opinions expressed herein are the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Cloudeight Internet LLC, its hosts, or sponsors. These Rants are editorials and are,  therefore, opinions. All content is copyright ©2005 by Cloudeight Internet LLC (all rights reserved)

All content is copyright ©2005 by Cloudeight Internet LLC (all rights reserved)


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