Is Browzar adware? Not that I can tell

After my post last week, New browser covers your tracks, about the Web browser Browzar, which lets you surf without leaving tracks on the local computer, I heard from Neil Squillante of TechnoLawyer, who pointed me to this item on Web3.0log: New secure browser Browzar is fake and full of adware. And an anonymous commenter to my original post pointed to this Portable Freeware discussion of whether Browzar is adware.

What the commotion is all about, as far as I can tell, is that the search box that is built in to Browzar defaults to a Browzar-branded search site that serves up ads along with search results. Presumably, this is the developer’s attempt to generate some income, because the browser is free. That said, all one has to do to escape this is surf over to a different search site, such as Google.

It strikes me as erroneous and unfair to call this adware. I have visited any number of Web sites that use Google Adsense for search, which, like the Browzar search, serves up ads along with search results. Adware is a term that has a malicious connotation and is usually integrated with software in such a way that it cannot be bypassed or removed. Nothing about Browzar requires you to use its search box. And, frankly, I conducted some searches using it that showed no ads and results that more or less mirrored what I would get elsewhere.

This was the same conclusion of the Portable Freeware site referenced in the comment, where Andrew Lee wrote:

Contrary to the blog postings above, there is nothing to prevent you from typing “www.google.com” into the URL bar and landing in Google’s homepage, then perform your search from there. The only thing that is rigged is the search box found at the top-right hand corner of the UI, which is hardcoded to land in Browzar’s preferred search engine (where they make some ad money, presumably).

Portable Freeware put it to a vote and Browzar lost, so the browser is now removed from that site. Clearly, Browzar is not a full-purpose browser. But for what it purports to do, it appears to accomplish its purpose.

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  • Robert,

    I like the work you have done here at your blog. The whole Browzar episode seems to be one for the early-adopters-got-burned book.

    From what I understand, the “browser” requires Internet Explorer to function. It seems to be basically a fancy shell written to pipe commands and output in and out of IE. Thus, any claim that it is a “browser” is obviously wrong. It is really just a “skin” or “faceplate” for IE.

    A lot of people seem to have gone nuts over the search engine and adware claims, which led to people claiming it’s spyware. But what I think people should really be worried about is that Browzar is touted as secure and private, but it is merely a shell for IE, which is definitely NOT secure.

    This guy has a pretty fair assessment of Browzar.

    Digg has lots of users up in arms about it – probably a bit overboard

    Take care,
    Andrew