Assuming there have been millions of downloads of new.net's plugin when bundled with other apps, and assuming that many thousands of those plugins were installed (some certainly were as not all these other apps have been above board about the bundling) plus how many times have you installed a free download and just agreed with a bunch of clickwrap agreements, then if you go to CNET here and see that to date there have been 1,669 downloads of the freestanding plugin in over seven months, what does that tell you? There have been less than 2,000 people who actually want the plugin. New.net pays for it to get bundled so that many thousands, probably even millions, get it installed with or without their informed consent. That is why new.net is providing it via its download partners (most all of whom BTW also have other proggies packaged with them in similar fashion, not just the new.net plugin). If you want to learn more about this practice, do a google on foistware.|
FWIW, ZDNet is a little (actually a lot) slow on this story, as I've pointed out here on ICANNWatch that new.net was being bundled in this fashion, and with these problems, since the day they first did this many months ago, and I've pointed it out numerous times since. Also FWIW I installed the plugin on a machine the day they went live just to test it (due to privacy/security concerns). My testing showed that I needn't have had such concerns (though as it autoupdates without asking one can never be sure). The plugin also worked properly and was well behaved, which is more than I can say about a lot of downloads, particularily the often buggy first version. However, when the download was first offered on CNET I downloaded it on the same machine and installed it. It didn't tell me whether or not to uninstall the earlier version, so I didn't. It also didn't tell me much of anything when I did the install (of what was presumably a different version than I had). Once installed I couldn't access the net at all, either by dialup or cablemodem (via a hub). So I uninstalled it, got connection back, and haven't used the plugin since. As I've never seen or heard of a new.net site I'd want to visit, this was no great loss.
I used to be of the opinion that new.net and alt roots and XTNS and all the rest are free to do as they please (which isn't to say I'm not free to point out their shortcomings if I find them). While I still think they can do as they please, I don't think they're particularily healthy for the namespace. I've thought about registering .info domains, and know others who want .biz domains, but I think both will be a hardsell with the public. There has now been so much negative press about some repurposed ccTLDs, and new.net, and one .usa, and etc. that the public, both end-users and many of those looking to register one or a few domains for actual use, are shying away from using .biz and .info (and the 5 other new ICANN TLDs will also be affected to some degree).
I don't blame new.net or the others for this (as long as they are open and upfront and above board with what they are doing, new.net has been, as has ORSC, some others less so, all the way to outright scams). I blame ICANN for being so slow in rolling out new TLDs, and then making a horrid mess of things when they did (certainly .biz and .info have had more bad press, most of it well-deserved, than all the alt roots and overlays combined). The internet is seeing ICANN as damage and routing around it. Depending on whom you trust to do your routing, some of them aren't above causing damage either. Things could be worse, if you install Morpheus instead of Kazaa, you might wind up with another problem. Type in amazon.com and instead you're taken to one of their partner sites. This is arguably worse than new.net et al as most all of them add to the ICANN root, they don't mess with it. I expect this redirect exploit to become much more of a problem in the near future. Caveat emptor, and if it's a 'free' download, ditto. -g