About a month ago, my installation of AVG prompted me to upgrade to version 8. As is normal with Grisoft, they initally pushed their paid-for version (which I have no qualms with, but which I didn’t want). After a few days, the free version then became available, and so I upgraded. Unfortunately, version 8 has a new feature called LinkScanner and this is where the problems start.
LinkScanner is a highly intrusive utility that integrates itelf into IE and FireFox. Whenever you visit Google pages and perform a search, a spinning icon appears by each entry, that then gets replaced by a red cross or green tick. Moving the mouse pointer anywhere near these icons results in a huge noisy pop-up that bombards the user with not-very-useful information as shown below:
As you may be able to tell, I didn’t like this new feature. So I opened up the AVG control panel and disabled LinkScanner. Unfortunately Grisoft treat the disabling of the feature as a critical error and so the notification icon greys out and a big red exclamation mark appears over it. By this point, I was starting to get annoyed. Treating a deliberate user action as a critical error is just plain stupid. The product basically bites off its own nose to spite me for daring to disable the feature, as it instantly renders itself incapable of notifying me of a real problem!
The final straw came on Friday when an article about AVG on the Register caught my eye. I’d assumed the spinning icons represented requests back to Grisoft’s servers for information on the sites in question. It turns out though that the product instead “silently” visits each site in turn to check it every time. In order to prevent malware sites hiding their evils from AVG, it pretends to be IE6 when requesting the pages. In other words, every time someone visits Google with AVG installed, they screw up that site’s visitor stats. This is just unforgivable behaviour for a product in my view.
So Grisoft join Micorosft (with their search gaff) and Apple (with their malware-style updater) in the ignoble hall of fame for pissing off their users. UPDATE: As Mike Dillamore points out in the comments below (thanks Mike!), Grisoft listened to the criticism of its users. Versions 8.0.1 onwards have made LinkScanner an optional install. So once again AVG returns to being a brilliant anti virus utility.