AOL 9.0 = Bad

AOL can’t catch a break… definitely not from us, and only less invariably from the rest of the Internet. Just when you thought their acronym would fade from our RSS feed comes the news that AOL 9.0, their new, free Internet software, has been slapped with the “badware” stigma by

Badware isn’t as bad as malware, spyware or scumware, but it’s still pretty… bad. According to, AOL 9.0 interferes with computer use to meddle with the IE browser (a small crime) and the Windows taskbar. It also has been accused of “deceptive installation.” On top of that, some components don’t install at all.

To be fair to AOL, they’ve already taken steps to address StopBadware’s concerns, but it’s not good when a consortium of web experts dedicated to exposing malicious software underline a fact everyone already knows: AOL sucks. Thanks to Brandon!

AOL 9.0 Accused of Behaving Like Badware [PC World]


Edit Your Comment

  1. I think you meant “…some components do not uninstall at all.”

  2. TedSez says:

    I recently upgraded my AOL software since (despite having broadband) I wanted to keep their free antivirus subscription for a few more months. Per the article, I was annoyed to see that a lot of useless AOL buttons had been added to my browser and Windows taskbar — but it also opened a window with instructions on removing both, which it did quite easily. So I’m not saying this is a good thing, but it’s not as bad as you might think.

    P.S. Yes, I’m keeping my AOL e-mail addresses. Someday soon they’ll be considered retro.

  3. Demingite says:

    Might there by any connection of the computer-meddling and deceptive installation of AOL 9.0 to AOL’s years-long practices of thoughtlessly seeking immediate profit, in sacrifice of essentially all other values?

  4. AcidReign says:

    …..Luckily for me, by the time AOL 9.0 came out, I had become an expert with ten years of experience at fixing the problems an AOL installation can cause. AOL has always packed a bunch of unnecessary stuff into their installs.

    …..Deleting all the desktop junk is as easy as control-clicking them all and hitting the delete button. Yes, you are sure. Empty the recycle bin or use shift-delete.

    …..The humungous taskbar (“deskbar”) add-on can be uninstalled from the Windows Control Panel (add/remove programs), as can the Internet Explorer toolbar.

    …..Other add-ons can be attacked via add/remove programs, such as the AOL Coach (knows almost nothing), Viewpoint Media Player (does not delete everything, you have to track down the folder with that title and manually delete it…), and AOL Port Magic.

    …..In versions past, AOL installs would drop whole folders full of crap like “Install Compuserve” and “AOL Premium Services” right into the C: root folder, but that’s been reduced lately. Still, you might want to search that, and the Program Files folder for new junk.

    …..Stopping AOL from loading to the system tray on startup is tricky. Unchecking it in msconfig does not work. You must load AOL and sign on, then access Keyword: Settings. Turn off every auto-start setting you can find. Sign off, kill the tray applet, then run msconfig. Uncheck every startup program related to AOL, then go to the Services tab and kill AOL Topspeed (Useless with a broadband connection.) When you’re culling things, MAKE SURE and leave AOL Connectivity Services alone. It’s actully needed.

    …..When I exit msconfig, I select “restart later,” then I run a piece of freeware called Msconfig Cleaner to wipe the entries from the msconfig menu. THEN, I reboot.

    …..After rebooting, your system should look and run relatively normally. Still, run a registry-scanning tool like CCleaner. It will find a bunch of broken AOL registry settings after the pruning. You’ll want to delete all those invalid entries.

    …..Oh, and the AOL install will also silently load abbreviated versions of Realplayer and Quicktime if you don’t already have them. These require separate uninstalls, too. So look for tkbell.exe and qttask.exe to be added to your start-up folder in msconfig as well. Qttask is a tenacious little start-up aggravation that will keep re-appearing in your startup items from time to time, unless you use the Quicktime control panel to suppress start-up items, then kill it in msconfig. Tkbell used to be nasty about showing back up, but Real has clipped its wings a bit lately.

    …..Finally, after all the pruning, it’s a good idea to run Adaware and Spybot.

  5. Demingite says:

    AcidReign: Your advice here is truly a public service!! Thank you!

  6. AcidReign says:

    …..Mm. Thank you. Scary new world out there now, with whatever changes they (AOL) come up with… I’m just hoping that I can still still open those creative 419-er emails and laugh, and not get infected, when it’s all said and done. And not give up my (pre-Clinton) email address.