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Is WinZip Becoming Adware?

December 27, 2011

I've used WinZip for a very long time. I can’t say for certain when I first started using it, but I’ve been using the product since at 1998. Unfortunately, the latest version (v16) proved to be a huge step in the direction of being sleazy adware.

One of the first things I noticed when I installed WinZip 16 was that the icons had changed. There is this new “ZIP Send” icon that is ugly. For that matter, most of the interface elements are not as pretty as they used to be in previous versions of WinZip. The attractiveness of the user interface was actually one of the things I liked about WinZip. I did not let that ugly Z bother me, though. I was more interested in the functionality.

What really got under my skin was a new toolbar that got installed without my permission. This was a toolbar apparently created by an outfit called “Conduit Ltd” called “WinZipBar”. I didn’t want that installed! I am very careful to not install such things. I tried removing it from Chrome and it acted as if it was gone. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Buried in the Windows Registry, there was stuff that allows the toolbar to reappear. I discovered this when I tried out the “new user” feature in Chrome. That toolbar came back! This software was supposed to have been removed from my system, yet it was there! It took time, but I believe I found all of the necessary registry entries and files on the hard drive. It better be gone.

I went on with WinZip 16, but discovered today that there is a “WinZip Quick Pick” running in the task tray. Again, that’s not something I want, so I tried to remove it. As you can imagine, you cannot remove it. At least, I could not remove it. I could get it to shut down, but it would come back after rebooting the machine.

As if this nonsense wasn’t enough, I discovered that WinZip also installed other programs on my machine that I didn’t want. One was a “Registry Optimizer” from WinZip. I didn’t pay much attention to what the other was, but it also left me with the impression that WinZip is turning into those sleazy companies peddling unwanted adware and spyware.

I’m not accusing WinZip of doing anything unethical, but I want WinZip as a good file compression utility. I do not want a browser toolbar. I do not want a task tray program. I do not want a registry optimizer. I certainly do not want any of that stuff pushed onto my machine without my permission.

I uninstalled the software and the web site sought my feedback. I tried to provide it, but their server reported an error. That figures.

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