(Sorry, a few days late with this.) Further to the reports of talks between Microsoft and adware maker Claria (formerly Gator), spyware/adware expert Ben Edelman points to a website discussion that highlights an apparent conflict of interest should Microsoft Buy Claria: What would Microsoft’s own anti-spyware software make of Claria’s adware?
A Dozleng.com post reports that Microsoft’s Anti-Spyware Beta now recommends that users “ignore” Claria. To confirm this result, I downloaded Claria’s DashBar and Precision Time products, then installed MSAS, all on a fresh virtual PC that hadn’t previously run any of these programs. MSAS’s recommendation and default action was “Ignore.”
In contrast, when last I ran MSAS on a PC with Claria software installed, MSAS recommended removing these same programs. This is exactly the kind of conflict of interest I worried about three paragraphs above — but I didn’t anticipate how quickly this problem would come into effect!
There are some more comments collected here. One website, Sunbelt Software, which receives updates from Microsoft but has its own inhouse research lab, reports that the change in recommendation from Quarantine or Remove to Ignore took place on March 31. Sunbelt’s Alex Eckelberry writes:
At any rate, does this mean that Claria will, in fact, be purchased by Microsoft? Not necessarily. It could mean, however, that the two companies are working together in some other capacity, or that Claria has successfully lobbied Microsoft to change the default action. Or, it’s a simple oversight.
I can’t help feeling that if it was an oversight, it would have been corrected by now. And, as Ben Edelman points out, it’s not possible to check a list of Microsoft’s decisions on this kind of thing, where Microsoft lets users know what’s no longer being detect etc.. .
Compare Microsoft’s neutral ‘Ignore’ recommendation with nearly all other antispyware/adware programs that do, according to the Spyware Warrior website, detect Claria products, and, where they make a recommendation, suggest they be removed.
Bottom line? I’m with Ben: I think whatever bits of Claria Microsoft is interested in, conflicts of interest rear their head and the company’s efforts to burnish its image as security guardian will be lost, virtually overnight.