The NeoSmart Files

Open Letter to CNet (Updated)

It has recently come to our attention (original story, HN discussion) that the recently updated EasyBCD listing on CNet/Download.com no longer links directly to an official setup package but rather to an “CNet EasyBCD Installer” which bundles certain 3rd party products and viralware (others are referring to it as malware, we will refrain from doing so) and attempts to pass it on to our end users as part of the EasyBCD experience.

Unlike some of the affected open source software that is listed on CNet, EasyBCD does not use a copyleft license that lets companies and individuals do whatever they want with EasyBCD and repackage it in whichever manner they choose. In fact, in the past whenever we were asked why one of the most popular freeware products available online was not open source, we have repeatedly insisted that the ability to maintain control over the distribution and packing of EasyBCD to ensure an ongoing comfortable and friendly user experience has been our number one reason.

CNet is of course not the only download site using these so-called “downloaders” to bundle unwanted software that unsuspecting users would normally not install. They are, however, one of the largest and prior to this, also one of the more respected download entities. As of today, we shall be contacting any and all companies and sites that use custom “installers” to download/install EasyBCD as this is in direct violation of the EasyBCD license.

While this could not come at a less opportune time, with EasyBCD currently being the 11th most popular download in the System Utilities category on Download.com, we feel that maintaining a fluid and smooth end user experience, uncluttered by various intrusive softwares, is a tradeoff well worth making in order to never be associated with an unsavory experience in the minds of our users.

NeoSmart Technologies would be thrilled to maintain our listings for EasyBCD and other NeoSmart products on Download.com, and we have historically directed many users there to get their downloads. As such, our offer is simply as follows:

The latest versions of the EasyBCD installer, as well as those of our other popular software and products, are all digitally signed by NeoSmart Technologies. In short, any download for a NeoSmart product must make available the untampered, digitally signed installer as it was originally released by ourselves. Authentic NeoSmart setup packages can be recognized by means of the following digital signature when viewing the file properties:

We are sorry to have to be making these demands, but are left with no other choice as we have always and forever prided ourselves in providing top-notch quality products and a wonderful user experience. We constantly turn down very lucrative and alluring offers to bundle EasyBCD with other “unwanted products” in exchange for rather princely sums of money. Fortunately, our custom, non-GPL/non-opensource license for these softwares allows us to stipulate and demand that download partners conform to our distribution policies. We look forward to updating this post soon with the good news that CNet and others (currently Softonic) have complied with our terms of distribution. A copy of this request has been filed with Upload.com support under case number 111205-000208.

In the meantime, anyone looking to obtain EasyBCD and other freeware or shareware from a download catalog should look at Softpedia (our EasyBCD listing there) and FileHippo (not currently hosting EasyBCD) as good alternatives. In fact, both have text on their site indicating that they pride themselves in providing clean and non-intrusive downloads to original and unmodified packages. We also advise any other freeware authors and developers hosting their files with Download.com to double-check and make sure that their users are not being taken advantage of unawares, and to follow suit if necessary.

Update (11:05 AM CST): We have just received an email from CNet informing us that they are no longer using what’s officially called “CNET-Installer” for our products. As such, we have no problem linking to the EasyBCD listing on Download.com once again.