Saturday 26 November 2005

AOL "Triton" IM client contains shovelware

AOL recently announced that its next-generation IM client, Triton, is now out of Beta and ready for downloading. The new AIM has some interesting new features and eye candy, but hides a disturbing aspect: it insists that you install a whole new web browser.

When you run the client you get an AOL Explorer web browser window, displaying the AIM Today web page. Note that AIM is simply loading a web page, but not using the user's existing preferred web browser. There are other parts of AIM that also cause this new browser to start.

AOL Explorer nags users to switch their preference, and does it in such a way that it's easy for them to accidentally grant it default browser status. Also, there's also no uninstaller!

Web browsers are complex network applications, with big potential to contain security vulnerabilities. AOL Explorer appears to be based on Firefox, but probably won't get security fixes as fast as Firefox does.

In IT shops, inadvertently installing an unknown web browser is not a good idea. Because of the potential security issues, IT managers should consider forbidding their users from installing the new AIM on corporate PCs and laptops -- users can be instructed to stick with version 5.9.

[Update: tidied up some of the language]


Anonymous said...

Well agreed. It also forced my machine to start Triton with Windows even though I unchecked that preference numerous times. There is some hacks to remove the browser shell, but there should be an uninstaller.

Anonymous said...

There is an uninstaller. But it's hidden. I installed AIM Triton on a client's PC last saturday, and found how annoying AOL Explorer was.

Just go to %PROGRAM_FILES%\AOL\Explorer, in there is an uninstaller program.

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