Symantec's LiveConnect: Adware?

Written by Brett Thomas

November 10, 2006 | 18:40

Tags: #norton

Companies: #symantec

Users of the Symantec line of products such as Norton Antivirus got a quiet and sneaky little install last week which has had many people crying foul. The LiveUpdate feature pulled down and installed yet another background task entitled LiveConnect, which was questioned immediately as adware.

People had a bit of a right to be suspicious - the software downloaded with little warning. For those who set their LiveUpdate to confirm each install, the download popped up in a list of others, with absolutely no description. If the download was not accepted, other (presumedly) critical updates would not be installed. Those who let LiveUpdate just do its thing were not even informed of the new addition to their "Processes" menu.

Symantec was quick to deny that LiveConnect has anything to do with adware, stating that it is a "required" download because LiveUpdate is not robust enough. According to the company, the program is designed to update the user to new products and upgrades, and pull down larger-scope patches like major program updates. Symantec's VP of Consumer Engineering, Rowan Trollope, said:

"Most people don't even know they're entitled [to these major upgrades]. I would argue that customers would be angry if we didn't tell them."

Of course, people probably are more angry at the installation of secret, undisclosed software that supposedly does the exact same thing that another process is supposed to already be doing.

For those who would rather not enjoy the benefits that Symantec promises will come from LiveConnect, you will have to uninstall the software manually and without directions. In order to get the new "major updates" that LiveUpdate now cannot handle, you can go to Symantec's website and download them.

This leaves a lot of questions. First, if LiveConnect is so much better, why not replace LiveUpdate with it? And why make it such a quiet and behind-the-scenes update when even the most basic of program updates are clearly spelled out normally? Or is this just a vehicle to advertise upgrades and new products to its user base? And if so, isn't that the very definition of adware?

What do you think it's doing? Let us know your thoughts in our forums.
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