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Title: Adware  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Malware, Comparison of BitTorrent clients, ΜTorrent, Bargain Buddy, Virtual Bouncer
Collection: Adware, Internet Advertising, Types of Malware
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Adware, or advertising-supported software, is any software package that automatically renders advertisements in order to generate revenue for its author. The advertisements may be in the user interface of the software or on a screen presented to the user during the installation process. The functions may be designed to analyze which Internet sites the user visits and to present advertising pertinent to the types of goods or services featured there. The term is sometimes used to refer to software that displays unwanted advertisements.[1]


  • Advertising-supported software 1
    • In application software 1.1
    • In software as a service 1.2
  • As malware 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5

Advertising-supported software

In legitimate software, the advertising functions are integrated into or bundled with the program. Adware is usually seen by the developer as a way to recover development costs, and in some cases, it may allow the software to be provided to the user free of charge or at a reduced price. The income derived from presenting advertisements to the user may allow or motivate the developer to continue to develop, maintain and upgrade the software product.[2] The use of advertising-supported software in business is becoming increasingly popular, with a third of IT and business executives in a 2007 survey by McKinsey & Company planning to be using ad-funded software within the following two years.[3] Advertisement-funded software is also one of the business models for open-source software.

In application software

Some software is offered in both an advertising-supported mode and a paid, advertisement-free mode. The latter is usually available by an online purchase of a license or registration code for the software that unlocks the mode, or the purchase and download of a separate version of the software.[1]

Some software authors offer advertising-supported versions of their software as an alternative option to business organizations seeking to avoid paying large sums for software licenses, funding the development of the software with higher fees for advertisers.[7]

Examples of advertising-supported software include the Windows version of the Internet telephony application Skype,[8] and the Amazon Kindle 3 family of e-book readers, which has versions called "Kindle with Special Offers" that display advertisements on the home page and in sleep mode in exchange for substantially lower pricing.[9]

In 2012, Microsoft and its advertising division, Microsoft Advertising,[2] announced that Windows 8, the forthcoming major release of the Microsoft Windows operating system, would provide built-in methods for software authors to use advertising support as a business model.[11][12] The idea had been considered since as early as 2005.[13]

In software as a service

Support by advertising is a popular business model of software as a service (SaaS) on the Web. Notable examples include the email service Gmail[2][14] and other Google Apps products,[3] and the social network Facebook.[15][16] Microsoft has also adopted the advertising-supported model for many of its social software SaaS offerings.[17] The Microsoft Office Live service was also available in an advertising-supported mode.[3]

In the view of Federal Trade Commission staff,[18] there appears to be general agreement that software should be considered "spyware" only if it is downloaded or installed on a computer without the user's knowledge and consent. However, unresolved issues remain concerning how, what, and when consumers need to be told about software installed on their computers for consent to be adequate. For instance, distributors often disclose in an end-user license agreement that there is additional software bundled with primary software, but some panelists and commenters did not view such disclosure as sufficient to infer consent to the installation of the bundled software.

As malware

The term adware is frequently used to describe a form of malware (malicious software)[19][20] which presents unwanted advertisements to the user of a computer.[21][22] The advertisements produced by adware are sometimes in the form of a pop-up or sometimes in an "unclosable window".[23]

When the term is used in this way, the severity of its implication varies. While some sources rate adware only as an "irritant",[24] others classify it as an "online threat"[25] or even rate it as seriously as computer viruses and trojans.[26] The precise definition of the term in this context also varies.[3] Adware that observes the computer user's activities without their consent and reports it to the software's author is called spyware.[28]

Programs that have been developed to detect, quarantine, and remove advertisement-displaying malware, include: Ad-Aware, Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware, Spyware Doctor and Spybot - Search & Destroy. In addition, almost all commercial antivirus software currently detect adware and spyware, or offer a separate detection module.[29]

See also


  1. ^ For example, in 2007 Microsoft changed its productivity suite Microsoft Works to be advertising-supported.[4] Works was subsequently replaced with the Microsoft Office 2010 software suite operating in a "starter" mode that included advertisements.[5] As of 2012, this product is also being phased out and replaced with Office Web Apps.[6]
  2. ^ Formed in 2008 following Microsoft's acquisition of digital marketing company aQuantive.[10]
  3. ^ A workshop held by the Federal Trade Commission in 2005 asked representatives of the computer, electronic advertising, and anti-spyware product industries, as well as representatives of trade associations, government agencies, consumer and privacy advocacy groups, to try and define adware and its relation to spyware, and did not find a clear consensus.[27]


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  25. ^ Copy available at Bloomberg.
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