Saturday, June 16, 2007

Company releases bad program, spams with good reviews

In an ironic twist, anti-spyware software Ad-Aware maker Lavasoft has exploited the worst aspects of the Internet to cover up for some pretty obvious mistakes in their own program.

First of all let me state for the record that Ad-Aware has been a great program in the past few years I've been using it. Never had a single problem, and it did what it said. I always used the free version, but two levels of paid versions are also available - Plus and Pro. Free worked for me so that's what I used. So when I heard they were updating it, I waited until it droppd its "Beta" status (which for you non-technical folks, means they're still working on it, but it mostly works and those adept with computers are welcome to try it), and downloaded it. The installer looked nice, so I was optimistic.

Strike one: When I go to start it, it asks for a license code. There's a drop-down box which lets you choose license type, and free isn't one of them. It took me a couple minutes of scratching my head to try clicking Cancel. Sure enough, the program continued to start. But it also put the Ad-Watch icon on my desktop, which is for Plus and Pro users only. Two problems but it's one strike.

The program looks nice. Real nice. So I go to do the first thing one should do after installing a security application - install the latest updates. Any company worth anything making one of these should release updates every couple days, and they don't update the download of the program, so the program is days or weeks out of date upon downloading.

Strike two: I go to update, and there's no progress bar or anything. It just appears to hang. When it's done updating, it tells me the update failed, or the download failed.

I figure this could all be explained, that maybe C|Net's might have an update that fixes at least Strike 2, but what do I find instead?

Strike three: It would appear that the company, instead of fixing the problem, is instead spamming the review/rating system on, giving it 5 star reviews and talking, not even in depth, just vaguely, about how great it is. Although the most recent reviews are more honest, it's pretty obvious something's wrong when the average user review is 4.5 stars, and people are giving it 1 and 2 stars. Going back, one can see some very vague reviews, some of which are terribly written. Just see for yourself!

It's a damned shame that such a good company has turned to desparately trying to convince everyone they didn't just mess up, rather than burying themselves in code trying to find the actual problem. One can only hope that they are doing both.

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