Is AOL Software Badware?
The StopBadware.org website often check reported software for bad behavior. StopBadware says, "We find that AOL 9.0 VR is not badware, although it does engage in a behavior that users should be aware of."
So it seems that AOL is disclosing what their software will do or install which means it is not considered badware or spyware. The real culprits are the OEM vendors who may have installed AOL software in a new computer due to their partnership.
As we already know, many software vendors are bundling their setup file with third-party programs. It is because they earn money whenever the "free or trial add-on" in a PC or software is installed. Until today, many software installs bundle another program (called piggybacking) and this is why users need to be aware what is included in any installer. In the Calendar of Updates website, there's a list of software that bundles with another software. The list is regularly updated whenever there's a new report from the community. The bad thing about software bundling is most of them will trick users by making it appear that the add-on is required or part of the program that the user intended to install. Often, the installation of the add-on is pre-checked and the file size of the downloaded software that a user intends to install will increase due to additional but unnecessary software. Also, some software vendors will customize the name of the add-on to mislead users. AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) is one of the programs that was reported to include unneeded software like the AOL toolbar.
Some antivirus vendors will detect toolbars as potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), adware or controlled applications. Depending on the behavior of the add-on (toolbar, browser helper object and extensions) and how the end-user wants the antivirus program to detect unwanted programs. Sophos antivirus is one of the antivirus vendors that will detect many toolbars as controlled applications. If the antivirus program is configured to block, restrict or allow any controlled applications, a computer will be safe from such applications. System administrators can take advantage of this function in Sophos especially if the computers at work should not have any potentially unwanted program, adware, or any unnecessary programs included in a software installers.
Image credit: AOL logo - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AOL_logo.svg