BITTORRENT HAS FROZEN a bundleware offer which was putting noses out of joint after it emerged over the weekend that some users of its µTorrent client have been getting no chance to opt out.
It seems that the bundled Epic Scale software uses a hive mind of user CPUs to "solve world problems" using their spare capacities.
However, it's also mining litecoin digital currency for the owners at the same time, and seems to be causing quite a bit of lag, as you'd expect.
Jordy Berson, a BitTorrent manager, told the µTorrent community in a blog post: "We understand the concerns that have been raised about our partner offer with Epic Scale. Amid user feedback, on Friday midday we paused the offer to allow time for us to do an evaluation."
"A quick word on Epic Scale. We do believe their charitable mission to be genuine and heartfelt, and their technology innovative. We encourage you to learn more about them and to offer constructive feedback so they can improve on what they are doing.
"We are working with them to take another close look at how their software works (and how we present it) and have shared the concerns that have been made here so that they can be addressed."
The problem here is not about the legitimacy, or otherwise, of Epic Scale, but that the software is arriving without the chance to opt out. Given that BitTorrent gets a cut in the litecoin revenue, some more suspicious elements are crying foul.
Officially, as with all responsible software vendors, bundleware comes with an opt-in/out screen so that any installation is down to the user's failure to read the instructions. But for some reason, the opt-out screen seems to be failing to appear in some cases.
µTorrent is a lightweight torrent client that came under the BitTorrent umbrella in 2006 and went on to become the basis of the main BitTorrent program. But it has also remained available under its original brand owing to its status as the most popular client outside China.
The news comes less than a week after Mac users were outraged after Oracle started putting bundleware from Ask Jeeves into its Java updater.
Kevin Fu at BitTorrent was keen to put us straight on the story. "There have been some wild claims on this development in lieu of fact check," he said.
"We reviewed this issue very closely and can confirm there is no silent install happening. It's something we're continuing to monitor, but this is likely users accepting the offer during install.
"We've seen screenshots out there in press and otherwise (from folks who went through the installation process) showing the prompt provided.
"Like many software companies, we have partner offers in our install path and our policy is that they are strictly optional. We aim to work with partners that would appeal to our tech-forward user base.
"This is the case with Epic Scale; they are litecoin-based and charity focused. They have a great story and you should consider having a look.
However, some still claim that there was no opt-out screen and that, after repeat installations, the screen appeared only on the fourth go, suggesting an intermittent fault. This is still unconfirmed, however, and the official line remains that there is no problem at BitTorrent's end.
The company announced BitTorrent Sync 2.0 last week, a freemium version of its popular cloudless file syncing service, aimed at businesses wanting to use the BitTorrent protocol to sync team files without the need for a centralised server. µ
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