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#27277 - 11/04/13 10:09 AM Issues with MacUpdate and CNet's Download.com
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
Recently I came across some worrisome information about Mac software update sites MacUpdate and CNet Download*. Here are some details for those among our visitors who aren't yet aware of this.

1. MacUpdate. Sometime last week I noticed that all MacUpdate pages of Koingo Software products sport a rather unique and prominently placed disclaimer reading 'MacUpdate does not recommend apps from Koingo Software'. Intrigued (I own several of these products), I investigated, and immediately came across this Koingo web page commenting on this issue.
It seems to me that Koingo made a major mistake allowing a third party access to its web site and ultimately engage in negotiations about a Promo bundle offer with MacUpdate fronting as Koingo reps. Once notified of this by Koingo, MacUpdate apparently wasn't willing to remove Koingo's software from the promotion bundle. This led to Koingo's blocking of serial number registrations of bundle owners (in fact reverting them to an older version), and this in turn resulted in the negative endorsement MacUpdate now places on its Koingo product pages. But by all means, read Koingo's version of the story I linked to above to get a feel of what transpired. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get MacUpdate's side of the story, but it seems like a good idea to keep an eye out for further developments.

At this point I'd like to insert some information on the history of MacUpdate. The site is started and owned by Joel Muller, who was—at least in its early days—associated with some arguably shady dealings (e.g., see this 2006 Rixstep blogpost). It was a topic of discussion in the MacFixIt forums at the time. During the last 5-6 years or so, however, such rumors have stopped and it has developed into the premier Mac software update site, not in the least because its main competitor VersionTracker was discontinued by its latest owner CNet which folded it into its existing software downloads site. IMHO, CNet's Download.com's interface is a horrible, slow and multi-click requiring mess, a far cry from VT's much clearer interface, a similar version of which is still seen at MacUpdate.
Six years ago MacUpdate followed MacHeist's lead and started offering heavily discounted software bundles, which have become wildly popular. Here and elsewhere such bundles have also started a discussion about their utility to software developers, and, as happens not infrequently, opinions differ. The current Koingo-MacUpdate flop may rekindle this discussion. But the point I'd like to make here is that since this time in particular MacUpdate seemed to work well, and stopped being a source of rumors of shenanigans. That is, until now.

2. Download.com. Sometime in the last two weeks I noticed that the main download button on several software items listed here does not download the software in question, but a small installer**. Since the installer doesn't run under Leopard (which runs on the PPC iMac I still use most of the time), I haven't been able to check it out there. Only after I got annoyed by this development, I noticed the small print direct download link immediately below the main download button. That was a relief, because it no longer forces me into the (for me) dead-end installer route.
Fast-forward to today: this morning I came across this Advisory on CNET's Download.com issued by SecureMac.com. It speaks for itself, and it turns out that the installer I referred to above and the 'adware bundled with popular apps' are one and the same. Reason enough to alert all of you out there. In case you already ran this installer, please note the link to the CNet Adware Identification and Removal Guide posted on the SecureMac page. This Guide page also sports an image of the 'boobytrapped' download button, and the safe direct link below.


*) CNet's Download.com may be of special interest to FTM's membership, since it is the successor of VersionTracker, whose mother company TechTracker also operated MacFixIt and the MFI Forums (predecessor of FTM Forums), before selling both VT and MFI/F to CNet and effectively discontinuing them with this move.

**) Regardless of the software involved, the size of this installer is about 736 KB an its name starts with 'cbsidlm'.


Edited by alternaut (11/04/13 10:59 AM)
Edit Reason: added details.
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#27338 - 11/08/13 06:27 PM Re: Issues with MacUpdate and CNet's Download.com [Re: alternaut]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09

Originally Posted By: alternaut
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get MacUpdate's side of the story, but it seems like a good idea to keep an eye out for further developments.

Today MacUpdate offered a replacement* for the software items Koingo pulled from the March 2013 Freebie bundle. The offer also referred to a MacUpdate statement about the issue I had not yet seen.

*) The replacement offer involves a copy of MacOptimizer, but the download of it appears to involve jumping through an unexpected hoop, according to user comments on the MacUpdate's MacOptimizer page.

May be continued...
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#27339 - 11/08/13 07:02 PM Re: Issues with MacUpdate and CNet's Download.com [Re: alternaut]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Well, I'd prefer to have heard the story from a commuting fly, but your linked docs will have to suffice.

The first thing that jumps out at me is that Misha did not mention the deletion of the 3 & 4 3+ star reviews about which Josh complained...totally reprehensible if it did, in fact, happen, and the second thing is that Josh may not have been totally above board about his professed ignorance, lack of full knowledge, anyhow, about what transpired.

All in all, though, an unfortunate unfolding of events.

Edit: I'm not certain whether Koingo displayed astonishing naivete in its dealing with its sales partner, was simply the victim of some social engineering, or both.

Edit 2: And speaking of reprehensible, the CNet behavior you mentioned fits the description. mad


Edited by artie505 (11/08/13 07:12 PM)
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#27344 - 11/09/13 03:52 AM Re: Issues with MacUpdate and CNet's Download.com [Re: artie505]
Pendragon Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Georgetown, Texas, USA
Thanks for the posts kind gents. Most enlightening, at least to me.

I'll stay tuned...
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#27346 - 11/09/13 06:47 AM Re: Issues with MacUpdate and CNet's Download.com [Re: artie505]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
Your impression that both parties may be blamed for less than professional behavior matches mine. It's clear neither wants to divulge too many details, but it seems that Koingo goes farthest, perhaps because their story wouldn't make sense without at least some 'mea culpa'. All I can say is that it's not a pretty picture, and one that might have been prevented had Koingo not been asleep at the wheel during critical developments.
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#27347 - 11/09/13 08:15 AM Re: Issues with MacUpdate and CNet's Download.com [Re: alternaut]
coolspot Offline


Registered: 11/09/13
Originally Posted By: alternaut
It's clear neither wants to divulge too many details, but it seems that Koingo goes farthest, perhaps because their story wouldn't make sense without at least some 'mea culpa'.


I have to agree, reading both sides of the argument, it seems that Koingo gave its reseller free reign, and even a corporate e-mail address, and therefore enabled that reseller (or was it really an employee tasked with marketing?) to pose and act on behalf of Koingo. I don't see anyone to blame but Koingo itself for lack of due diligence in the matter.

Also, when thousands of licenses needed to be generated, were there no internal checks and balances?


Edited by coolspot (11/09/13 08:16 AM)

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#27348 - 11/09/13 09:05 AM Re: Issues with MacUpdate and CNet's Download.com [Re: coolspot]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
What I don't get, assuming Koingo is on the up and up about the reseller, is what the reseller was hoping to accomplish by undercutting its own market?

It almost sounds like the reseller had it in for Koingo...my social engineering reference.
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#27349 - 11/09/13 10:29 AM Re: Issues with MacUpdate and CNet's Download.com [Re: artie505]
coolspot Offline


Registered: 11/09/13
Originally Posted By: artie505
What I don't get, assuming Koingo is on the up and up about the reseller, is what the reseller was hoping to accomplish by undercutting its own market?


The "reseller" according to MacUpdate was a woman named Grace Kotsch... and based on some quick Googling, looks to be pretty junior. Perhaps she didn't grasp MacUpdate's advertising model or fell for the hype and proceeded beyond what her authority was?

According to Koingo:

MacUpdate never had permission to giveaway copies of Data Guardian 3 or MacCleanse 3. There was no agreement in place, no authorization given from administration at Koingo - nothing. We've gone the extra mile and offered people discount pricing on the products, but we're not about to giveaway copies of apps they did not have permission to do so for.

This excuse is pretty lame; Koingos is a small company, only 9 people, surely the CEO would have known the general going-ons at the office, especially when it involved 1000s of licenses.

However, doing some more Googling, it looks like it is not the first time Koingo revoked licenses due to misunderstanding terms.

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=758741

Seems like it's a recurrent event for this company...

I think it is time for Koingo to implement some Checks and balances!


Edited by coolspot (11/10/13 08:35 AM)

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#27381 - 11/13/13 06:30 AM Re: Issues with MacUpdate and CNet's Download.com [Re: coolspot]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: coolspot
Seems like it's a recurrent event for this company...

I think it is time for Koingo to implement some Checks and balances!

Apparently Koingo reconsidered its position with regard to the software it blocked during the 2013 MacUpdate fiasco. It emailed an apology with download links to affected customers and requested help in lifting MacUpdate sanctions and promoting Koingo software. Presumably the bad publicity threatened to hurt business. Let's see what MacUpdate's response—if any— will be.
As to improved checks and balances for Koingo, that remains to be seen, but I'd be surprised if we'd see a recurrence of the MacUpdate fiasco any time soon.


Edited by alternaut (11/13/13 01:23 PM)
Edit Reason: fixed some typos
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#27386 - 11/13/13 01:18 PM Re: Issues with MacUpdate and CNet's Download.com [Re: alternaut]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
I received one of those emails from Koingo just this morning, and I must say I was quite surprised.
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#27429 - 11/17/13 02:21 PM Re: Issues with MacUpdate and CNet's Download.com [Re: alternaut]
negritude Offline


Registered: 01/08/10
Did any of you actually read the full email trail that was posted:

https://www.macupdate.com/koingo-freebie-bundle-fiasco-logs

Unless those emails were made up, this is clearly a failure on Koingo's part.

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Moderator:  alternaut, cyn