Free software developers cannot make money by selling their products directly, but there is always an opportunity to earn revenue by teaming up with another party. For a fee, the developer will include a third party software in the installer of their free software so that the included third party software automatically installs on the system when the free software is installed. A common example of unwanted third party software are toolbars and trial software.
The practice is no longer limited to petty developers, as even legitimate software companies and previously reputed organizations like Download.com and Sourceforge have started indulging in it.
Experienced users can avoid falling into the trap by opting for custom installation, if it’s provided, and carefully reading the text on each screen during the installation of the software. At some point, usually near the very beginning and just next to the license agreement screen, the installer will offer an option to decline the bundled offer.
Inexperienced users, on the other hand, will swiftly go through these options in an effort to hurry and end up installing software they don’t need, or unwittingly changing their browser’s default search provider and homepage.
A new free software called Unchecky claims to protect users from unwanted third party software installation by automatically unchecking unrelated offers such as potentially unwanted programs, offers to change your homepage or your search engine. Unchecky achieves this by forcing the installer to switch to custom installation mode, if available, and automatically opting out of bundled offers. Additionally, Unchecky warns the user when they accept a potentially unwanted offer.
Unchecky’s author warns that the software might not support all installers especially those which are not released yet. The program runs as a service and can be enabled or disabled by running the installed executable. It’s worth noting that Unchecky updates automatically, so you don’t have to worry about running the latest version.