Note that many websites have their own advertising, unrelated to adware.
Marketed as a program to add graphical skins to IE toolbars, it also adds its own toolbar.
Reports state that the program generates pop-up ads that are clearly marked as coming from HotBar. According to the most recent versions the user has full control over the popup issue at any time. At first, during the installation process, the user may choose between an ad-free version of the program and an ad-supported version.
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The most recent iteration of the Hotbar program users which chose the ad-supported version can disable popups from the "preferences" within the toolbar.
ANALYSIS AND RESEARCH ON THIS PROGRAM IS ONGOING.
Please also refer to the EULA and notes of the HotBar company.
Addendum Added 8.06.05
Hotbar offers a free version and paid version that is "advertising" free. However when choosing the paid version option Hotbar began installation via an ActiveX applet of their complete program suite BEFORE the transaction was completed.
Therefore the consumer receives the advertising-filled Hotbar installations without paying for the program and loses the ability to change his or her mind about purchasing the product before making payment. Once the consumer has committed to the payment checkout webpage they will receive the Hotbar suite of applications with advertising. This suite includes ?Hotbar Web Tools? and ?Hotbar Outlook Tools?
A toolbar was displayed in the top hand of the browser window displaying yellow icons. These icons are all sponsored links (advertising). A query was run through the "search engine" with the string "test search". Hotbar responded with five sponsored results and no organic results.
Further testing with other common search strings displayed results from Overture, an advertising service owned by Yahoo and no organic results on the first page. Therefore, it would be more accurate to classify Hotbar?s free search engine as an advertising search engine as each link generates revenue for HotBar and Hotbar is only searching results in which they receive revenue.
Of more important note is that certain phrases seem to be filtered out of HotBar search. For example the search for the term Hotbar, Remove Hotbar, Uninstall HotBar, Delete Hotbar, all return no results found although the same query in Overture, their primary syndicator shows these results.
Hotbar does offer a button in the upper left hand menu called Premium where the user can complete the purchase and remove the advertising services. In addition to this button in the Outlook tools HotBar offers a graphical button called VIP. This takes the user to a splash page touting the benefits of owning HotBar by making a purchase.
We do not consider this program spyware. We consider it advertising supported software. The application after installation serves ads on the tool bar after a search and all search ads on popular keywords seem to be paid placements. Ads are also served overtop IE at the bottom of the browser and labeled. Total memory usage was around 9 megs of memory and 5 to 15 cpu cycles depending on the search string you enter. We have included the analysis of the terms of usage from the software below:
Notes on EULA Analysis
Number of Characters: 29476
Number of Words: 4809
Number of Sentences: 134
Avg Words per Sentence: 35.89
Flesch Score: 10.02
Flesch Grade: 21 = This is Beyond a Twelfth Grade Reading Level
Fake Warning screen. Note the small disclaimer bar at the bottom.
Windows process manager showing the memory usage of the various Hotbar processes
Removable from "Add/Remove Programs" on the Control Panel. Does NOT do a complete removal of all components and attempts to place a resuscitator file on the machine to prompt the user to reinstall after removal.