Your Choice Adobe: Customers or McAfee


Sometimes, organizations just don’t get it. The latest edition of organizational tin-ear who-cares-about-customers comes to us from Adobe, the maker of innovate software packages that include Acrobat, Creative Suite 5, Flash and Photoshop among many others.

In addition to its innovative software, Adobe has always advertised adding bloatware downloads for its free “reader” downloads, most notably the Google toolbar. For the longest time, most people simply un-checked the Add Google Toolbox bar and went about their business. And, most of these people are its existing and prospective customers.

But, in September 2009, Adobe started offering an optional checkbox for a download of a “free” security scan from McAfee as part of the free downloads for its Flash Player. The practice expanded to include the McAfee security scanner with downloads of Adobe’s free Acrobat reader in 2010.

Harmless enough, right? Wrong!
Despite un-checking the box for the McAfee security scanner, the scanner is installed without your permission and the next time the Adobe product is used, up pops the executable for the scanner to “assess” your computer. No doubt the scanner will find something in its scan of your computer and redirect you to a page at McAfee where you can purchase something that will take care of the discovered problem, even if you take great-pains to keep a squeaky-clean PC.

McAfee scanner = blue screen of death
However, before the McAfee security scanner can pop-up, be prepared for the blue-screen-death on the machines the scanner was installed on and some tender coaxing using known previous good configurations to restart the machines the beast was installed on. This occurred most recently to me on three PCs after trying to update Adobe reader – supposedly without the McAffee security scanner being downloaded. Despite my expressely un-checking the box for the scanner, the scanner was installed on these systems without my permission and all three had to be recovered. Not good business practices, and not a good track-record Adobe! Bordering on deceptive and liable? I’ll leave this question to lawyers.

Think I’m alone?
No, I’m just one of the many people that are being afflicted by this latest case of bad business practices and whichever set of people at Adobe are not listening with their tin-ears about the reaction customers have for the latest business practices of this dynamic-duo.

See the following buzz:

McAfee Security Scan Plus – Advice That You May Not Want, January 2010

Adobe and McAfee are installing malware: June 2010

Adobe support forum: from 2010

McAfee + adobe + flash installer = No!, February 2011
At Andy Sciro’s blog:

Google “blog adobe mcafee” and you’ll find a lot more than these few examples. Weed through a few of these and you’ll find some fairly upset people, many wondering how and why Adobe could allow this nonsense to continue, and pleading with Adobe to put a stop to the practice of downloading the McAfee security scanner.

What will you do?
Consider yourself warned if this has not already occurred to you and consider sending an email to your employees about what will and will not be supported if PCs suddenly start coming-up with blue-screens.

Of the two, Adobe always had the better brand for its business practices and its treatment of customers. But its association and willingness to ignore the pleas of customers to stop the practice have fallen on tin-ears.

Adobe, your customers have been telling you for more than a year to stop this business practice and you’ve ignored them. Continuing to ignore your customers will come at much higher expense to find new customers. And, the longer the business arrangement occurs, and with the impact that it is having on users and organizations, the more likely that customers and prospective customers will simply walk-away from both organizations – to the detriment of the shareholders of Adobe and now Intel.


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