In my regular morning scan of Techmeme, I noticed that my former company, EasyBits Software, is in some hot water.
- Skype installs EasyBits Go CrapWare on your systems without users’ prior knowledge
- What is Easy Bit Games Go?
- Skype taken to task by angry users over claimed crapware payload
- Some Skype users not happy with newly discovered program [Update]
- EasyBits GO, Skype, and The Crapware Problem
Not cool. Fairly explosive stuff. Not what you want to wake up to in the morning, if you’re EasyBits.
I left EasyBits about a year ago to pursue more interesting options in SOLOMO (social, local, mobile solution). But I can make some educated guesses about what’s going on. Here’s the deal, as far as I can see:
EasyBits has been making their game channel for years. It’s one of the first “app store” models online. It’s real, it’s not dangerous, and it’s well-intentioned. EasyBits and Skype have a long relationship and a long history, and an agreement on providing the game channel for Skype.
The problem is that it comes almost as a sort of payload with Skype … the Skype Extras manager. As such, it’s not something that people are intentionally downloading and installing. And EasyBits is not necessarily the most adept at informing users about what it’s doing … after all, their goal is to get installed. Perhaps not at all costs, but perhaps not smelling like roses either.
I can’t claim any insider knowledge right now, but everyone knows that Microsoft is buying Skype. One can only assume that EasyBits might see Microsoft’s acquisition as a major threat: when Skype is theirs, they will naturally fully review all agreements, all code, all relationships … and who know what they’ll keep and what they’ll throw.
Therefore, if you’re EasyBits, you’ll probably thinking about life after Microsoft. And that means independent existence on users’ PCs, courtesy of Skype initially, but with a separate existence.
Well, combine that desire with perhaps not the highest regard for users’ preferences, or a clumsy update (including a spelling mistake, after all) … and you’ve got the current situation.
Here’s what’s obvious to me: Skype, with the acquisition finalizing, isn’t going to take any chances.
EasyBits is not going to get out of this one easily.
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Any way you slice it, this was a malicious attack to force EasybitGo software onto user systems without the computer owner’s consent. That is the essence of trojan downloader and the downloader that brought this hitchhiker is part of Skype. As usual, it is all about the money.
[…] Here’s another take on the EasyBits GO debacle, from a guy who used to work at Easybits. Even if it’s not a trojan, it’s still crapware, and careless crapware at that. The Microsoft connection is intriguing: MS will soon be reviewing the entire Skype ecosystem, and may decide to do some decontamination. I don’t think it will go well for EasyBits. […]
I agree …