The issue of Flash Player bundling: A matter of trust

It’s great to know that Macromedia monitors these humble blog sites, sale and it’s even better to know that they’re concerned about what we have to say. I just received a comment from John Dowdell of Macromedia Support asking me to help clarify my recent post regarding Macromedia’s packaging of the Yahoo! Toolbar with the Flash player for certain Web visitors.

After responding to his post, capsule I realized others may not quite understand my position, either (It was classified under “rant” after all), so I figured I’d post his message and my response here. So here we go:

Hi, I’d like to be able to clearly present your concern to my partners, could you check me here, please? How would you rank the following concerns which I could synthesize out of your post?
— Don’t like Yahoo
— Gives Java or C++ arguments some ammo
— Not clear of future scope of ways to shift Flash costs from authoring tools to corporations
— Not sure of spyware/malware risks or implications
— Other

(The FAQ on the site advises that the only people who see this must (a) surf IE/Win (b) must click “GetFlash” link instead of the normal ActiveX (c) must not already have Yahoo Toolbar installed. Web search term of “site:macromedia.com yahoo toolbar” brings up more.)

Could you help me to relay your core concerns most effectively? Thanks!

Regards,
John Dowdell
Macromedia Support

And my response, which still may or may not be coherent:

Thanks for the comment, John! It’s great to see Macromedia is monitoring the blogs and fielding our questions. In return, I’ll do my best to answer yours, too. Hopefully, I’ll speak sensibly on each of your points:


How would you rank the following concerns which I could synthesize out of your post?

Don’t like Yahoo

This is not an issue at all. In fact, I feel rather sorry for Yahoo in this; I truly wish them no harm, and in fact, I use and enjoy many of their services.

I do wish them good luck with their toolbar, but I hope they’ll find better ways of marketing it than packaging it with other company’s software. In my mind at least, such arrangements always seem to cheapen my view of both party’s wares, as if neither could stand on it’s own.

Gives Java or C++ arguments some ammo

It rather does, don’t you think? If I can download the Java Virtual Machine WITHOUT the fear of installing “something extra,” then, as a business, I’d rather search for Web apps built on THAT technology than attempt to find ones built on something that now seems to be a marketing ploy.

It’s the proverbial “slippery slope:” First, the flash player comes bundled with something I’m not interested in otherwise. Why should I not expect the next version to have even more “marketing potential” built in? Will Flash Player 8 feature content-sensitive ad delivery built in?

And no I’m not saying this is the inevitable outcome, but I think you might understand the reason for suspicion. Just about everybody on the Web has faced unwanted advertising, and anything we can do to nip it in the bud is welcome. Once I’ve paid for Flash MX 2004 Studio Professional and spent time and money developing an application it it, I don’t want my potential clients to see MY work as being associated with third-party advertisers.

Not clear of future scope of ways to shift Flash costs from authoring tools to corporations

I’m not sure I understand this, but I think I may have addressed it above. In short, I see the Flash player as the means to deliver new software to the public: a Runtime or Virtual Machine, to be specific. If the runtime itself is being used for marketing purposes, I’ll look for one that doesn’t.

Not sure of spyware/malware risks or implications

This is probably the main reason for my concern, but it’s also the CAUSE of the other concerns listed here.

It’s not so much the existence of spyware, but the POTENTIAL of spyware that is raised by this packaging. Until now, I never even entertained the idea that Macromedia would do such a thing. This was naive perhaps, but now I have a hard time imagining that the company WOULDN’T entertain the idea if a “partner” with deep enough pockets came knocking.

In essence, it’s a matter of trust between Macromedia, the developers who create apps with its products, and the companies who will rely on both.

Other

As you can see, the problem I have is not with Yahoo or the idea that Macromedia needs to make money, too. But when I develop an application for a client and tell him he’ll need to download the latest Flash player from your Web site, I don’t want to feel like I’m sending him to FreeIpods.com or some other “GET YOUR FREE GIFT FOR FILLING OUT THIS SURVEY” site. Macromedia is better than that, and I hope it’ll stay that way. (Promote Yahoo Toolbar like crazy all over the Macromedia site if you need to, but just don’t make my clients feel like they’re being asked to download something they wouldn’t otherwise.)

Hope this helps, John, and again, thanks for asking!

(VeryVito)
abuse@turdhead.com

Hope this helps others, too!

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66 thoughts on “The issue of Flash Player bundling: A matter of trust”

  1. Excellent, thanks… those specific concerns will be easier to carry into internal discussions.

    But first: “…these humble blog sites…” I think you may be underestimating actual effects here… sample internal conversation: “Turdhead had a post on it today… yeah, that’s tee, you, are, dee, yeah yeah… you know, that guy with the T-shirts you lusted after at the conference, that’s right….”

    (I can confirm that business development and exec staff have a high awareness of mailing lists, weblogs and similar discussions… “how will people react online?” is a frequent topic, so it’s good to get such specific feedback for shaping things to work for everyone.)

    Let’s see, we’ve got: “may make internal evangelism harder” (when a pro-JVM staffer uses this to argue against your solution, eg)… “not sure of how similar offers may be featured in the future”… “prefers engineering to be funded solely by authoring tool prices, and the Player popularity should not financially contribute to future work”… “privacy and security issues need to be rock-solid when associated with third-party code”. How’s that, any changes, additions, other…?

    tx, jd/mm

    [PS: ah, I see, CAPTCHA code doesn’t refresh with page-reload, and text is removed… I retyped the above after losing it once and may have left out a point I’ll remember later… I’m not sure how to force refreshes so two comments can be entered sequentially on the page, I’ve seen a couple of sites that way.]

  2. I think that covers it. By the way, in real life, I work for a large, (i.e., BIG) company that is heavily invested in Java and other Web-based technologies. Flash has only just begun to make inroads in the minds of the Powers That Be, and while the company is now using it largely for e-Learning, marketing and assessment purposes, I and others in the company are finally convincing decision makers of its benefits as a viable platform for real client solutions. Any association with the dark side of internet marketing — real or perceived — could be a fatal blow at this point. I’m keeping my fingers crossed! — Vito

    P.S. Sorry about the captcha glitch! We’ll work on that, too. Thanks for retyping, and thanks for the kind words!

  3. MM is seriously jepordizing their efforts a extending future versions of the flash player’s intall base. It already takes much to long to get to a resonable % of users of any given player release. When you factor in the 75+% install base it takes for large corporations to make a version required, you have flash 8 in use by 2007 if we are lucky. Add in the bad press and the ensuing distrust from users and i think you can add more time to that figure. Even microsoft has the decency to uncheck as default all the ‘subscriptions’ to spam mail they offer when you sign up for a hotmail account. Its clear the flash community expected more out of Macromedia and is shocked at this turn of events.

  4. Well this discussion seems to be going on everywhere you turn in this community. (Completely irrelevant observation – fractured discussions: a negative symptom of everyone maintaining a blog??) Anyhow, I thought I’d jump in here as Mr. Head did such an excellent job of summarizing most of my main concerns.

    JD you ask “How’s that, any changes, additions, other…?”.
    I’d like to add the fact that the Flash Player should be the Flash Player and nothing more. Namely when I download it (or more importantly send one of my clients to download it) we should be installing only what is required to view the Flash content. I’ve heard the war stories about the Flash Player meetings where folks anguish over the justification of adding functionality to the player at the price of a small number of bytes filesize (myth or not the Flash player is still pretty compact and it took some effort). In that light simply offering more of a download seems rather contradictory.

    Like I said this seems to be a popular discussion and rightly so. It appears to me though that most of the discussion is going in one directional. JD is doing a fantastic job of coaxing thoughts like those above but what I would also like to see is some Macromedia input on why this move was made. I’ve read the market speak, but would appreciate a bit more light shed on how the bundling benefits Macromedia’s customers.

    Thanks.

  5. Wow, this couldn’t have come at a more interesting time for my company. I am just in the middle of forcing my boss to pick up a few Flash MX 2004 Studio Professional licenses, but I am now re-thinking our technology path. We do online photo finishing and we were thinking of adding Flash widgets for a better high end experience (image editors, file management, shopping cart …). But I can guarantee that our clients will NOT tolerate (pay for development) at having anything that even SOUNDS like a spyware.

    Hypothetical example: Safeway develops a web site, but because of the third party software, Future Shop banner ads pop up advertising Safeway products at a cheaper price when you use the checkout. Not cool.

    Even the THOUGHT that third party Software could be spying on their shoppers experience would freak the business unit out.

    I think I am now going to root around the internet and try and find out more about this. But even the rumor of this happening may have squashed our immediate flash development.

    Ciao
    Wolf

  6. I think it’s important to realize that Flash is increasingly being associated with annoyance in the mind of the average user. After all, 90% of all Flash apps people encounter nowadays are annoying animated ads. (Or even worse: modal ads or ads with sound! I don’t know if it’s already possible with the current player, but it would be very nice if these things could be easily disabled.) Bundling extra software with the player will only increase this association, as (in my experience at least) very few people are fond of this practice. Why should I need to download something that I didn’t want in the first place?

  7. I work in IT Security, not content development, but I feel that since the spyware spectre is raised here, I can comment.

    No, the Yahoo toolbar isn’t spyware, but it’s NOT a flash player. For people to view Flash content, they need the Flash player. They *don’t* need a Yahoo Toolbar. Bundling unrelated software is a pain for everyone.

    I’ve been involved in the development of corporate desktop images. Every piece of software that goes on there gets tested and vetted. I would be dismayed if we now need to add procedures to remove the Yahoo toolbar (which we will, completely, no way in hell is that going on a corporate image..).

    To put it simply, and in terms your marketing people can understand and related to, bundling unrelated software *hurts* your brand.

  8. I haven’t encountered this yet, so I don’t know all the mechanics. But, in my limited experience, the Yahoo toolbar, by default takes up screen real estate all of the time. This sort of addition amounts to a U.I. change that users should not be subjected to without their active participation. Seriously. Don’t mess with browser look and feel without being asked to. Ever. Not even with an opt out box in an installation window. I like google toolbar a lot, but wouldn’t want it to appear without planning on my part. Also, perhaps reiterating others’ points: As a user, I’ve come to trust the flash installer to do nothing but provide access to specific additional content. The result is that when a new version of flash is required I click install and don’t worry. If the situation changes and the process becomes click, install, then hunt down and try to remove “features” which don’t interest me, it has become more work for me to stay up to date. Bundling a toolbar with flash moves you one step closer to the Real policy of trying to milk all you can from people’s desire for content. Euphamisms for this from marketing are just that. I still think that Real might have had a chance against wmv if they had a quick minimal implication installation, and otherwise maintained a focus on their key technology.

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  10. Does anyone know if there is a Flash 7 Player installer that does not
    have the Yahoo toolbar option?

    I am working on a RIA application for a Fortune 500 company, and JUST
    finished convincing their “Information Security” people that it is
    safe to force user’s IE browsers to auto upgrade to player version 7.
    I do not want to be blamed for having people accidentally installing a
    separate application (Yahoo toolbar).

    I did a quick search and did not find an installer without the “Yahoo
    option”.

    Anyone know of any other installer options?

    Thanks!

  11. Everyone has their price, and that of Macromedia has clearly been met. The points made by developers here are outstanding — as it is I get called by clients when confused by spyware or browser add-ons that they don’t expect and I don’t want more of that!

  12. Ok first off – toolbars are annoying marketing software.

    Second — Macromedia will be running Flash into the ground if they want to start squeezing end-users for cash (even if it’s indirectly by trying to convince them to download a toolbar with the plugin). They’re already squeezing developers out of cash. Their flagship flash development product is already cost prohibitive to small business, individual users, and students.

    The Yahoo!! toolbar just seems desperate.

    My advice — cut the crap. Re-release Flash MX 2K4 with different feature sets at different price-points relative to the needs of your developer market. An individual hobbyist user who just wants to learn animation or a student who wants to learn Flash development isn’t going to be able to shell out much more than $100. A small business may need more features than the hobbyists and students, but isn’t likely going to shell out nearly a grand for a piece of software. Maybe the full-featured studio that employs a few people can afford the full price.. but there are a lot of people below them that can’t and probably resort to pirating the program instead of paying something for it.

    Now if they start losing clients because the flash player bundled with the toolbar is turning end-users away — a lot of developers are going to be pissed.

    Especially the ones that spent a lot of money on flash development over the past few years.

  13. Macromedia needs to be careful. When you have 99% market saturation, the only way to go is down. Flash is already on thin ice because the most annoying ads are Flash ads, and now advertisers are starting to use Flash to do end runs around pop up blockers. If it gets bad enough users will block Flash with browser extensions or with their firewall. This could set off a chain reaction of users dumping Flash, site owners then finding Flash development not worthwhile, and then Macromedia getting desperate and making bad deals for cash.

    And for the record, StudioMX 2004 Dreamweaver and Fireworks are slow and crashy.

    Also, Turing tests for comments suck. Try using some of these methods to block spam.

  14. It’s for this reason, I DO NOT install Shockwave player, nor ever promote using it for a given project.
    Not sure when It happened, but now, on ‘install’ you have to ‘opt-out’ of some product your were NEVER interested in.
    There is a reason why Google toolbar gets installed (on browser that dont come with it by default) – PEOPLE TRUST THEM to not meddle with the golden business rule of ‘dont annoy your customers whith crap they dont want’. simple really.

  15. At my work place we’re already blocking Flash advertising, among others, so this isn’t a real concern since most people here wouldn’t notice the need for it, and any site that depends upon Flash for a fill-out form, with no failover HTML equivalent, is committing suicide! If Flash is going to become as evil as Gator/GAIN/Claria, it’s very easy for big corporate types to just disallow the whole lot.

  16. To be honest, I simply won’t download future versions of the Macromedia Flash Player if the Yahoo! Toolbar is tacked on.

  17. Hey Slashdotters, while you’re here… BUY SOME T-SHIRTS!! 😉

    David wrote, “when I download it (or more importantly send one of my clients to download it) we should be installing only what is required to view the Flash content.” Agreed. That is the case… Yahoo stuff is not bundled into the Macromedia Flash Player… there’s just a checkbox offer on a certain page of the Macromedia site.

    Andrew also wrote: “what I would also like to see is some Macromedia input on why this move was made” I ran into Kevin Lynch today (Macromedia Executive Vice President, Chief Software Architect), and he was already working on a piece about the background, and how other strategic partnerships in the past have helped get Macromedia Flash Player on lots of desktops. I’d guess this’ll be online early next week, although as you might guess, I wish it was up already…. 😉

    “Tom” wrote: “Does anyone know if there is a Flash 7 Player installer that does not
    have the Yahoo toolbar option?” No Macromedia installer has any Yahoo code installed. When people in IE/Win actually visit the Macromedia site for an updated Macromedia Flash Player (instead of using the usual background ActiveX download, popular in that browser), then they’ll see a Macromedia web page asking if they’d also like to download Yahoo Toolbar. Don’t use IE/Win? Won’t see anything. Use the normal ActiveX install? Won’t see anything. Use IE/Win, click “GetFlash”, then click “No Yahoo”? You’ll have seen that dialog box, but you won’t download anything but the straight Macromedia Flash Player.

    Regards,
    John Dowdell
    Macromedia Support

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  19. [Note from VeryVito:]For the record, John Dowdell of Macromedia has been working overtime this week to deal with this whole issue (and even plugging T-shirts for a site that’s caused him a lot of pain lately!), and I can only commend him for his work. I can’t say I agree with the decisions of his company, but it gives me hope knowing somebody like him is working inside it.

    And John, I hope you’re getting overtime for this! 😉 I may just have to buy you a T-shirt myself…

  20. That’s the biggest problem I’ve got with Flash/Shockwave/whatever players: that’s all I’d want – the player, not somebody’s hallucination of a “helpful toolbar” or any other bundling crap. Truth is, I’ve got Shockwave & Flash turned OFF in my browser because of all the fscking ads, gizmos, trashy animations, and other wastes of bandwidth for casual web surfing.

  21. hink this is, sadly, another case of the end-user paying the bills for corporate mismanagement. It is not my responsibility (nor that of any other end-user) to pay off the debts incurred from Macromedia’s inability to turn a profit from Flash. If this is indeed a matter of leveraging development costs for future versions of Flash then it serves as a strong indication that business model on which Flash was developed is fundamentally flawed. It seems counterintuitive to trade your biggest asset (your end-user population) for a few quick bucks; in the long run you are doing everyone (yourself included) a disservice. You will be much better off if you bite the bullet and treat the illness, not the symptoms.

  22. We recently finished a project that was 2 years in the making and it relies heavily on Flash. This news is VERY disturbing to say the least. As a custom who purchased Flash MX 2004 Professional, I put a certain amount of trust in Macromedia that users will have free and unadulterated access to the Flash Player (current and future versions). I can’t believe Macromedia would even consider this let along approve of it. Alot of work has been put into utilizing Flash that it would take ALOT of work to use a different technology. I am extremely disappointed in Macromedia’s decision. And it will probably have a permanent impact on my view of the company. How will I ever be able to trust that my customers won’t be negatively effected by Macromedia’s decisions?

    *a disappointed paying customer*

  23. This issue caused me to totally re-evaluate my use of Flash in all current and future web development work. All of those lurking issues I was able to subconsciously stifle (“monopoly!”, “closed source!”, …) due to the high quality of Flash are now exploding to the surface.

    Flash has achieved a TOLERABLE MONOPOLY position due to the quality of the product and harmless business practices.

    This single move obliterates both of these exceptions: by 1) immensely lowering the quality of the product and 2) raising into question the trust people have come to place in the product and company.

    As a previous poster commented, with such a high market saturation, the only way to go is down. And Macromedia just dumped a bucket of sleezy Yahoo!-branded e-grease down the slide.

    I’m gonna go find another sandbox before my own pants get soiled.

  24. Macromedia,

    Please do not bundle any third party software with the Flash Player, this would only cheapen the reputation of your software. I do not consider the Yahoo! toolbar as spyware, and actually use and like Yahoo!, but the ‘bundle’ of the 2 unrelated apps make you appear desperate. A lot of companies are very strict about what software can be installed on company computers, this might close quite a few doors on you. The Flash Player should remain the Flash Player and NOTHING MORE. Keep it clean! Thanks!

  25. Flashblock is an extension for the Mozilla and Firefox browsers that takes a pessimistic approach to dealing with Macromedia Flash content on a webpage and blocks ALL Flash content from loading, and Shockwave. It then leaves a placeholder on the page that allows you to click to view the Flash content. Available at http://flashblock.mozdev.org/. PROBLEM SOLVED.

    BTW: I wouldn’t trust Yahoo’s toolbar for a nanosecond. Nothing but TROUBLE. And this isn’t the first release of MM Flash that has tried to bundle spyware with it (with the default set to INCLUDE it with the player download). You have to be extremely careful how you answer the question [not too hard for readers of this blog, I’m sure, but perilous for the average corporate end-user].

  26. Before, Flash was just annoying. It served the purpose of a uniform means of displaying a webpage which was chock full of animations, sound, etc. Ie, step away from complexities of Java/Javascript and the various DOMs. But now this. Jeez. Wonder if they watch the news about people being pissed about adware/spyware/malware. Kind of makes you wonder who made the executive decision to stick adverts into each and every flash player so that Yahoo! gets to be promoted, even on sites which might be competing against Yahoo! and use flash… or rather “used to use flash”.

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  28. “When people in IE/Win actually visit the Macromedia site for an updated Macromedia Flash Player (instead of using the usual background ActiveX download, popular in that browser), then they’ll see a Macromedia web page asking if they’d also like to download Yahoo Toolbar.”

    While this is true, you are forgetting the most important part – that you are defaulting your radio buttons to the download of both Flash Player and Yahoo! Toolbar, rather than the standalone Flash Player. It’s fine to offer the toolbar with the player, but considering that most people will click “install” without reading a word otherwise (this is a large percentage of the IE/Win crowd), you are essentially making users download the Yahoo! toolbar without their consent. In the case that someone does install the bundle because they saw “Install Now” before seeing the choices they’re presented with, then your “offer” is really little more than a surprise to the end-user that they may or may not want on their system.

    I spend a lot of time cleaning computers plagued with spyware, adware, and the like. While Yahoo! Toolbar isn’t neceassarily adware or spyware, it is an unwanted feature that I remove from many computers due to the screen real-estate problem. The first time I receive a call from someone asking how Yahoo! Toolbar ended up on their computer, and it turns out they had unknowingly downloaded it packaged with Flash Player, I will be very displeased with Macromedia’s decision on this matter, and have to start advising people to “be careful when downloading Flash Player.” And if people have to be careful about doing something, most won’t bother with the task at all.

  29. Three comments:

    1. Amen, Joe User: provide a way to turn Flash off. By default. Without disabling it entirely. As Mozilla and CSS hacks (click to play) show, if you don’t, somebody else will.

    2. Spyware/adware sucks. Yahoo’s on my list of “avoid if possible” companies, both through their own past tricks, and the company they keep (SBC). MM: stay clear.

    3. Nielsen was almost right. Flash is 99.9% annoying as hell. With a Click to Play CSS hack, even the damned placeholders are annoying enough. I only installed the player a month or so back, and I mostly regret it.

    Macromedia: don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re Microsoft and can shit all over the public. Hell, Microsoft can’t even do that anymore.

  30. All points have been made already, so I’ll just say this:

    Maybe we developers finally have to swallow a point the Flash-haters have made all along:

    This is what you get when you bet on proprietary technology.

  31. This sounds a lot like the strategy followed by Real. We all know how well that served them, ha ha.

    Leon

  32. I think the Firefox extension Flashblock is wonderful. It obviates the reason I had two icons on my desktop (one for “install flash” and one for “remove flash”). If Macromedia really wants to avoid becoming known as the creation program for the most annoying ads on the web, why not put an option in the context menu to immediately STOP the animation of a flash ad. At this point, I consider them to be the sidekick of the “Web Annoyance” crowd, not the creator of useful web products.

  33. I can pretty much guarantee MM that the government agency I work for will not install a toolbar on our system images. I have worked for the Air Force, the Pentagon, HUD, Department of Education, and others in the past and I bet the administrators there would also prefer to remove Flash than to install a tool bar. Spyware and inexperenced users is a real problem at times.

    MM, you have lost focus on what is important – Providing a quality product to clients. People are not stupid, and you will lose customers over this. Personally, I will be very careful about updating Flash player in the future.

    Good luck trying to force software onto people’s computers, MM, you’re going to need it.

  34. I am also very disappointed with Macromedia’s decision. Although the Yahoo toolbar probably isn’t spyware, I guess the only thing MM has achieved here is to give developers a hard time persuading their customers that Flash is good for them. As if it waasn’t hard enough. I just read all the comments here and didn’t find a single one that approves of MM’s latest move. I don’t think JD or Kevin Lynch’s article will be successfull in justifying it. I don’t think even disabling the Yahoo option by default will do, since Yahoo would probably never agree to that.
    Maybe the only way to restore the trust of MM’s developer community is simply to remove the third-party software. I know that’s the only thing that would do for me. I hope MM comes to its senses, otherwise, people might start migrating to open-source projects, Java or similar. Macromedia, don’t become Micromedia.

  35. I will say this to John Dowdell, and in turn to the folks at Macromedia.

    A) Next time MM decides to make a UI or Workflow change, ASK the
    community.
    The corporate decision to conduct an add-on with Yahoo
    without consulting the community (and I have to believe they didn’t tell
    anyone about this, test it with the public, or research this in any
    significant way otherwise it would have been leaked to Slashdot or some
    other party long ago.) was probably the worst example of business strategy
    Macromedia has ever done. Whoever is responsible for this fiasco has set the
    progress Flash has made into corporations back years. YEARS.

    B) You made my work harder for me. I’m currently in the process of
    building a very important Flash application into an organization, and you
    have made my business process as a consultant that much harder. If you think
    even for a moment any corporation with their ear to the ground for
    anti-flash propaganda (and anyone with connections to an IT person knows
    about this mess now) hasn’t heard about this, you are vastly mistaken.

    C) Way to dilute the user base! Microsoft is passing around a
    bottle of champagne with this move, and you’ve opened up the door to any
    other 3rd party solution that will further dilute the user base away from
    the Macromedia player.

    D) Note to self, need to do a background check on MM’s board of
    directors…
    Are you sure whoever decided on this isn’t on Microsoft’s
    payroll? This would make a great example of corporate sabotage.

    Okay, on the last item I’m playing conspiracy theorist, but let’s face it.
    This was a lousy move. You’ve got the technocratic elite (just look at
    Slashdot, let alone blogs like this) up in arms over something that could be
    easily remedied, and I don’t think even having a process to ‘disable’ the
    toolbar in an the interface is remotely acceptable. As developers (and
    corporate end-users for Pete’s sake), we can not accept something integrated
    with a web site to suddenly acquire an unnecessary UI element to join the
    browser screen, especially in something where the UI was supposed to be
    clean and clear. You will have single handedly broken a look, feel and
    usability factor that was designed for a client, and the client might just
    well come to me asking why it’s broken. I’ll have to spend time and money to
    fix it. In my mind and possibly reality Macromedia’s going to get the bill
    for any hours of work I spend doing that, as well as the time spend calming
    down my client.

    Also, This opens up the door for advertising to be sent preceding what is
    supposed to be a design/logo splash…why? Simply because I (or my client)
    was told to trust something Macromedia decided to add on for those
    unsuspecting souls who download the new player.

    The moment a board member
    of this organization I’m helping decides to call me in a rage over the
    yahoo toolbar showing up in something that’s NOT supposed to have any other
    UI add-ons, I will heavily consider finding a way to sue Macromedia for
    this. This is a ‘design and programming environment’, not you or yahoo’s
    excuse for a billboard. I don’t want Yahoo’s garbage interrupting my work,
    or putting it at risk in any way, which is a huge possibility considering a
    newly-downloaded toolbar could contain yet another add-on from yet another
    company I didn’t expect to have to deal with before.

    John, please pass this on to Macromedia and make them change this path
    before this gets exponentially worse. Take the Yahoo toolbar out
    permanently, and let THEM offer an alternative Flash player if they want one
    of their own with a toolbar so badly.

  36. I work for a rather large company aw well that uses flash in almost all of our hundreds of sites. Where is it exactly this is bundled in. I am running flash player 7, but when I installed it, it didn’t put a yahoo toolbar in for me. Is this some recent addition to the 7 player?

  37. “Where is it exactly this is bundled in.”

    It’s not; that’s a reporting error, magnified by the Slashdot effect.

    There’s a web page on the Macromedia site which contains an HTML “want yahoo?” offer. The only people who see this page are those IE/Win users who actually visit the Macromedia site for the Player, instead of using the normal background ActiveX process to get it.

    The installers for the Macromedia Flash Player have not changed in any way, and have no foreign bits. That text on a webpage is the extent of the “bundle”.

    Regards,
    John Dowdell
    Macromedia Support

  38. As a flash designer/developer since version 4, I have always trusted Macromedia’s intention to keep the Flash end-user experience free from the commercial clutter that has undermined other propietry technologies. Macromedia’s decision to bundle 3rd party software with it’s player makes me wonder if my faith was misplaced. We all know the long standing arguments against choosing Flash as an internet technology, but just when it seemed like Macromedia was starting to gain a degree of acceptance amongst the flash-bashers, they go and do something as patently stupid as software bundling. This is a very disappointing development…

  39. Not really related to the concerns of bundled garbage with Flash Player, but in recent years, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of flash is irritating animated banner ads. I am a Linux only person, and I can always tell when I load a page that uses flash, because my processor utilization goes straight 99% and sits there until I close the page containing flash.

    Now, it’s not _really_ all that big of a deal, but it’s awfully damn irritating when I’m compiling something in the background, and catching up on the news, and the browser suddenly takes all the proc for itself, just to show me an ad of something I could give two poops about.

    Hmm. An afterthought, just in case folks thought I might be running on a 386 or something, my computer has 384Megs of ram, a 2.4 Ghz proc. What on earth does flash need that many cpu cycles for?

  40. Bundling software decreases enjoyment for a puny marketing venture.

    I’ve written plenty of installers, and not one has any addons and tells the user exactly what it’ll do if they press “Yes”. Now, i’m not going to install the MS Java installer purely because it has adware in it.
    Don’t get me wrong: Yahoo! are a fine company, but bundling software is low. Putting maybe a bookmark in is fine, but changing toolbars and the way browsers behave is what I spend 5 hours a day fixing, and is totally moronic. All it does is aggravate users, unless the users are gullible morons, or those who are appreciative of Yahoo!’s services being integrated.

    Even so…. to be honest, I wouldn’t install it because ’tis made by MS, and the less MS soft on my box, the better.. glad Macromedia are staying the reputable business and keeping in touch with users 😛

  41. The decision to impliment this kind of offering amazes me for the simple fact that there are “users” (and I use that loosely) out there that will download, install and use the toolbar. The Macromedia site is vague at best as to what specifically the toolbar does… and the only useful benefit I see is the ability to search right from the browser, which of course Firefox has native. I had to learn that after visiting the Yahoo site.

    I share the same concerns about security, privacy and the association with Ad/Spyware as VeryVito and many of you… so I won’t go into that. I just wanted to point out the “Search powered by Google” link in the footer of the Macromedia website… which begs the question Why offer a Yahoo toolbar to your users in a promotion when your own website uses the competititors service?

  42. I really appreciate your responding to the community so quickly on this issue, John. But I think you’re missing the point. At least, my point. You say, “Oh, they have to agree to download the toolbar, it’s only with IE (of course), it’s only if they get it from MM instead of ActiveX” and so on. Great. But when I, for one, am looking to quickly get Flash on a new computer, I’m going to be clicking the big “download” buttons and the “next” button rapidly. I’m not on the lookout for insidious “bundle” offers, nor should I have to be. Maybe it’s a small portion of the user base. Fine. But your comments make it sound like you’re doing nothing wrong; every user is completely aware of his decision to download and install Yahoo’s toolbar. That’s obviously not the case. If it were, why not make the default to not install it? Certainly, since all these users are completely aware of their decision, they’ll all opt to download Yahoo.

    Of course, that won’t happen. I imagine that in doing this, MM has signed some sort of contract and can’t back out of it so quickly as many web developers would like. But I for one will not download Flash or code any more software for it until any mention of the Yahoo scourge is remeoved from the MM web site.

    For the record, the Yahoo toolbar is, at least in my mind, completely useless. It takes up space, links to an inferior search engine, and provides hooks into ad-ridden servics like their email and the such. I wouldn’t be surprised if it monitored where the user browses, either. Maybe it’s not spyware or adware, but it’s certainly bloatware and unwanted.

    The main reason I prefer Macs is that on PCs, after a few months, if one isn’t careful, he’ll have a hundred icons on his desktop, half a dozen browser bars, ten superfluous icons in the taskbar, and about 25 processes running in the background that absolutely don’t need to be. It’s infuriating, and you’re contributing to it.

  43. Besides getting rid of Yahoo!Toolbar, what we really need is a context menu option to “block flash content from this server”. So one only has to deal with a particular advertising site once and never see their content again. Sorry MM, but that’s how annoying the people who use your product are. So you can help us or be set aside as we find some other way to get rid of the annoyances.

  44. Overreaction? Probably. Can you imagine the reaction if Macromedia had put the opt-out offer in the installer itself, and forced *every* user to opt-out? In this case, it’s not in the installer, just on a page which developers can bypass.

    Well, no need to imagine the scenario above. Macromedia already did that to the Shockwave Player installer. Shockwave developers begged/screamed/ranted for a seamless install (like the one they are currently providing for Flash), or at the very least, “opt-in”. No change. Not much explanation, either.

    So, yes, people are overreacting, but it’s easy to understand the misconceptions given the state of the Shockwave Player installer. It seems to me that Macromedia made the bed that they are now lying upon.

    Regards,
    Kurt

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  46. I have to say I’ve been reading and thinking a lot more about this since my reply yesterday.
    John- I realize you’re the point man on stuff like this topic at Macromedia and that you probably had little to do with this decision at Macromedia. It’s a horrible position to be in. I don’t think anyone blames you but in turn it’s natural to be defensive about your company’s actions.
    To Macromedia – I have to keep coming back to one of my concerns, which has been mirrored by my development team. What will Yahoo (or Macromedia) be doing to prevent other deals they may conduct on their navbar from interfering with active Flash activity on-screen? What protection will be in place (from both companies) that will prevent Flash from being interrupted or effected by ‘malicious’ activity or spawned pop-ups, etc. produced through use or typical installation or typical updating of the toolbar? What security will be in place? What assurances and penalties will be in place to make sure this kind of thing does not happen?
    Macromedia might be try to say “Hey, it’s not our toolbar – talk to Yahoo”. That excuse just won’t fly with the development community. After all it was your deal that put it there.
    We have to be able to trust Macromedia as a development platform. Right now my team is concerned that the integrity of the basic player is compromised (now and in the future) even though this is supposed to be a ‘separate application’ under Win/IE, despite being placed via the same installer… Your telling me it is a separate application won’t be enough, because the difference is, steps were taken to ASSIST that toolbar’s presence. If it becomes something we’ll see a lot more of, it’s creating a honeypot for abuse. So please, explain what will you do?

  47. MJ- I can’t find the specific discussion you’re talking about at the sourceforge link, but your experience runs counter to everything I know and have heard. The standalone Flash Player installers do NOT install the Yahoo! Toolbar (can’t speak for the Shockwave installers, which follow a different path), the only way you should get that offer is through the MM website download page- if you have Windows IE and no toolbar. FAQ point here:
    http://www.macromedia.com/software/flashplayer/productinfo/faq/#section-4

    If you have a Flash Player standalone player that installs the toolbar, could you point me at it for reference? TIA!

    -Scott/Macromedia

  48. The following comments are not facts, simply perceptions. Socially this may have to do with a lack good manners, breeding and education on Macromedia’s and Yahoo’s part for considering this. You don’t invite yourself to someones dinner table and force your way into their home do you? Of course not, this is not much different. Shame on Macromedia! And shame, shame on Yahoo for allowing their own marketing representatives to use them as a pawn to leverage their own (Yahoo’s) marketing objectives, it makes them look like a cheap carnival novelty. Anything for a buck, cheap and sleazy, get some class! Are they that far behind Google in quality of service that they have to resort to such desperate tactics?
    Rant aside, the issue is very simple. If an individual wants the tool bar, they can install it. Plain and simple. But to force an individual to install the Yahoo tool bar is akin to a side shop vendor forcing you to buy something before unlocking the door to let you leave. Sure, the tool bar is free, but I though the right of “Freedom to Choose” was paramount in many nations and took precedence as an inalienable right! It’s evident that we’re being denied the simple freedom to choose, so I choose to no longer use Macromedia products (and have not used Yahoo for years now – I’ve used Google), since they are now going to start bundling with advertising – And educate my clients by sending them to this blog site.

  49. I can echo the comments of many here. We have an XP Java shop and we are about to buy Flex (evaluating Laszlo) as a possible app container for some aspects of our business. If our clients are going to be subject to getting a browser toolbar in addition to the Flash player when we ask them to use Flash in order to use our product, this project is dead in the water. ie, we will not be buying Flex or anything else in the way of development tools from Macromedia.

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