Is Yahoo Employing Dirty Tricks In The Search Wars?

from the bait-and-switch dept

As the search engine wars have heated up, the browser's search box has become some valuable real estate. Last spring, Google threatened Microsoft with anti-trust complaints due to Microsoft's making its own search engine the default of IE7's search box. And of course, Google has sewn up deals with Firefox and Opera to be the default on those browsers. The battle over the search boxes appears to have hit a low, as there are claims that Yahoo is surreptitiously changing the default search engine to its own, in IE7, when users download an update to their Yahoo IM software. According to the people making the claim, Yahoo lets users check an "auto update" box, which then makes several changes to a user's defaults. It's not clear yet whether this was an isolated incident, or whether Yahoo has some sort of legitimate explanation, but if it has no defense, then it's a pretty bad and invasive tactic for a company of its stature to be using.

Reader Comments (rss)

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  1. identicon
    Chaos, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 11:14am

    It's true.

    Few weeks ago I downloaded the most recent YIM install and unchecked everything extra and still got ie loaded down with yahoo crap and links to games I'll never play dropped everywhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Tyshaun, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 11:23am

    The good old days....

    What happened to the good old days when you used to install a piece of software and all you got was that software (granted, it took like 10 floppy disks to do it!)?

    Now, everything you download appears to be "bundled" with a bunch of ads masquerading as actual applications. I think it's time to start thinning out the development company herds a bit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    charlie potatoes, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 11:23am

    for a while every time you updated Adobe Reader it tried to slip a Yahoo toolbar in on you. if you can believe it, some people don't bother to read all of the stuff they slap on the screen. Yahoo is big..but i don't see any ethics. they are just as chickenshit as the little ones.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    rHOnDO, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 11:37am

    One word ...

    One word - YubNub.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 11:39am

    meta search is better search

    All the search engine companies, Google included are getting far to agressive imho.

    Use this instead:

    It seems kosher enough to me. It's a couple of hundered milliseconds slower on results but it actually spiders all the other search engines and is therefore technically superior to Google or Yahoo alone.

    That said, the default search bar engine is hardly something that is cast in stone. It's a simple matter for any user to set this in obvious preferences option. To say Firefox (IceWeasel please :) has a default is a little misleading too. Depending on where you download your copy from you have many choices of rpm, apt or other packages that offer no default, or a latching (the one you choose stays) list of many choices.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 11:47am

    Re: The good old days....

    "What happened to the good old days when you used to install a piece of software and all you got was that software."

    Now is the new good old days :) Whenever I want a new piece of software Tyshaun I just type:

    apt-get install newsoftware

    Done. Then I click the new icon on my desktop or applications manager. It's that simple. No bundled spyware or aps I didn't ask for. That's the system I've been using for the last 7 years.

    You're probably using some obsolete operating system and need to update that's all. ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    all your screenz are belong to m$, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re: The good old days....

    What, per tell is this thing you refer to as "typing".. I thought everything was done with a mouse now??!
    *looks for the "yes, I agree" box*

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Adam, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 12:35pm

    Re: The good old days....

    No offense Tyshaun, but in MY good ol' days, you could fit like 10 programs on a single floppy disk :) Not going quite as far back as the 8 1/4 floppy, but still a ways back! :) Ahh the days of whole punching floppies, and 9600 (blazing fast) baud (compared to 1200 baud). Adam

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    David, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: The good old days....

    There's also a graphical package manager for those of you who like clicking ;) You can search it easily, for many different types of applications

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Dam, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Adobe Reader

    Stop using the Adobe reader. What was once a decent piece of software has turned into a bloated piece of crap that always wants you to install stuff you don't want or need.

    Instead, try Foxit, a free PDF reader from You can even install the Foxit PDF creator for free, but it will imprint an "evaluation" message on documents. But, it also installs a PDF printer driver which allows you to save web pages or any document as a PDF. Very cool.

    Disclosure: I do NOT work for Foxit, nor does my brother, mother, sister, father, wife, mistress or anyone else I know. I'm just a satisified user.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Gyp Joe, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 1:09pm

    Booble & Java Bungware...

    That is nothing compared to what Sun & Booble have cooked-up. The next time you do a Java update, ensure you select Custom Install because they will install the Booble Toolbar. Yes, that's right, the Booble Toolbar comes automatically with the Java Security Updater... Pure evil...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 1:33pm

    There's a deeper problem here

    And that is that people are still using IE, despite the fact
    that just about every credible (that is: not funded by Microsoft)
    security researcher out there has spent the last several years
    shouting "DO NOT USE IE" from the rooftop.

    IE is not a web browser any more than Outlook is a mail client.
    Both are malware download-and-installation engines that seem
    to accidentally have had a few add-ons of marginal use thrown
    in to get people to run them. Just perusing the archives of
    bugtraq or full-disclosure or others lists reveals an ongoing
    parade of security holes in them -- many of which are (a) remotely
    exploitable and (b) pathways to total system compromise.

    Yes, other browsers and other mail clients have their issues,
    but none of them come even remotely close to having a record
    like THIS. It's hideous. (And how appalling is it that the
    richest, most powerful software company on the planet can't
    even write a friggin' *mail client* that's safe to use? Sheesh.)

    [ This is why, by the way, I tell people that there is -- to a very
    good first approximation -- no such thing as an "email virus".
    There are (nearly) only "Outlook viruses", because other mail
    clients are usually not insane enough to repurpose message
    content as executable code. ]

    I strongly discourage friends/clients/colleagues from using any
    M$ products, but I tell them that if they're stuck doing so, then
    the single best thing that they can do to protect themselves --
    before worrying about things like firewalls and AV software --
    is to dump IE and Outlook. Those two steps remove two of
    the primary infection vectors, at which point it's actually worth
    putting effort into other measures.

    So...if someone does some nasty via IE, nobody should be in the
    least bit surprised. It's not remarkable: it's normal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Govind, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 1:35pm

    The future

    It's just a beginning. The worst is yet to come. The future belongs to human intuitive technology. There will not be any search box and search button to click on. A portion of your screen will always will showing relavant items for anything you type in any application.
    Sound's crappy, isn't it but I am sure there are dozens of geeks working on such stuff to make your life easy or hell, depends on how you see it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 2:15pm

    Knock MS if you want, but at least they have advanced beyond the need to edit config files in notepad (Thunderbird).

    Back to the point of bundled software and dirty tricks.

    Forget Adobe, use CutePDF for creating PDF files. They have a free version that does not watermark the result.

    I don't need another Toolbar in my Browser! Every app out there that wants to keep me as a loyal customer had better stop trying to bundle something else. I am already making a list of what programs do this, and am looking for alternatives to every one of them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Megan White, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 2:48pm

    Yahoo Search Engine

    Yes, I was baited with this Yahoo thing late one night while not thinking clearly! I thought I was downloading an upgrade to Windows. Next thing I knew my whole page had changed, with Yahoo crap eliminated my Favorites, something I use continually. Thankfully my son was able to get rid of it. It was very annoying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 2:49pm

    it means there losing against google

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Mr Schotz, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 2:57pm


    I tried to install Yahoo tool bar but my anti virus warned me not to

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Stu, Jan 12th, 2007 @ 5:23pm

    CutePDF by Acro Software is outstanding.

    It produces PDFs with searchable text and small file sizes.

    It installs fast with no unpleasant surprises.

    They also have CutePDF Professional (not free) and many other useful products, all reasonably priced, and useful.

    btw, I'm just a user, not their employee. :))

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Bumbling old fool, Jan 13th, 2007 @ 3:01pm

    A company of its stature?

    HAHAHAHA, that's funny stuff there.

    I have never thought highly of Yahoo!, and tactics like this don't suprise me in the slightest bit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Jeff, Jan 13th, 2007 @ 11:18pm

    Dirty Tricks 9.0

    This is just ANOTHER wake-up call that should be telling people who haven't realized it yet...


    Wasn't anyone paying attention when Yahoo joined forces with AOL to support Goodmail Systems' "Certified Email"??????

    Goodmail's angle:

    EFF's angle:

    Again, for anyone not inclined to visit the links, here's the executive summary:


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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