Editorial: Adobe's Flash Updater is Bloated and Shady

By on December 7, 2012, 3:51 AM

Being one of the most prolific sources of security vulnerabilities in Windows and other platforms, Adobe Flash Player needs no introduction. In spite of that reputation, and the fact that the rest of the industry is moving away from Flash, Microsoft surprised many of us by bundling the software with its operating system for the first time with Windows 8. This is after previously announcing that they wouldn't allow Flash in the Metro version of Internet Explorer 10 -- a decision the company later reversed.

I was glad when the Adobe Flash Player Updater was released in March. Finally the day had come when our machines would be silently updated with the latest Flash version... or so I thought. It'd just seem Adobe is making all possible efforts to make its software more bloated and less attractive to all consumers, here's why.

Read the complete article.




User Comments: 53

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1 person liked this | Divvet said:

Yet another flash bashing post, just install Google Chrome and get over it already. When your using Internet Explorer what do you expect? Also please stop spouting the HTML5 to replace Flash crap already. Flash ins't going to disappear anytime soon, so quit complaining.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Great article!

thanx for the PDF-XChange CViewer

Guest said:

This does seem like a bit of a "Waaaaaaaaaahmbulance" story. And in what way is the updater "shady"? Does it only conduct it's business down dark secluded alleyways in the middle of the night? I get you may not like the way it works, but there's nothing mysterious about it. And if you don't want the bloatware, uncheck the boxes which install it. Isn't really hard. Obviously would be nice if they weren't selected by default but it's not the end of the world.

misor misor said:

If flash updater is so much pain in the ***, then why bother with using automatic updates?

I have installed the free update notifier from filehippo.

and the title is "adobe flash" but contains rants against adobe flash player, adobe reader, the toolbar bundled with adobe flash player download, the bloated size of winzip 17 versus the competition, even the point of praising sim2000 running fine.

maybe for uniformity sake, the article should have inluded the bloatware that was/is vista/7/8.

if the story was told by somebody not from the techspot staff, I could swallow it but since it was, then here's my two thumbs down.

editorial is meant to be a mouthpiece at something specific, a personal bias against something.

...just install Google Chrome and get over it already...
+1

3 people like this | Guest said:

From a technician's standpoint, working with non-tech savvy end users, I can agree. It would make my life a whole lot easier if they fixed the issues you speak of.

1 person liked this | avioza said:

We have been experiencing the issue of end users installing crome and unwanted software on our network. We will have to disable the updater at this point or block the web traffic it generates.

It appears we will have to handle any flash upgrades with in house software distribution.

Divvet said:

We have been experiencing the issue of end users installing crome and unwanted software on our network. We will have to disable the updater at this point or block the web traffic it generates.

It appears we will have to handle any flash upgrades with in house software distribution.

Simple solution, remove flash, install Chrome. Tada, no more updater, no more unwanted software + a very secure browser.

1 person liked this | avioza said:

Simple solution, remove flash, install Chrome. Tada, no more updater, no more unwanted software + a very secure browser.

We have several in-house apps have been built on IE, one the culmination of 3+ years of 20+ programmers work interfacing with a couple different IBM mainframes and Imaging applications. Chrome is not really an option.

1 person liked this |
Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

@Divvet I don't use IE, I use Opera. The point was that whatever default browser you use is what will get updated in the point releases, not your other browser.

And even Adobe seem intent on allowing HTML5 to take over if you saw the link at the end of my editorial, so maybe this is why they don't seem to put any effort into making the Flash updater work properly.

Guest1: You're welcome

Guest2: In my defense the title wasn't my doing

The question is why an updater brings up a download page in the first place, there is no logical reason for it. It just means the updater is not even used at all.

@misor I want to use the updater because it would make my life easier, this coming from someone both managing computers in large networks but also helping out friends and family.

The point with doing comparisons to other software was that you have a choice in those cases.

You can install the bloated version if you so like, or select one of the others.

But with Flash you don't have a choice, it's either use Adobe's version or bust...

1 person liked this | Guest said:

We have been experiencing the issue of end users installing crome and unwanted software on our network. We will have to disable the updater at this point or block the web traffic it generates.

It appears we will have to handle any flash upgrades with in house software distribution.

Simple solution, remove flash, install Chrome. Tada, no more updater, no more unwanted software + a very secure browser.

Divvet

I dont want o be give all my data to Google. That what Chrome browser does. Read Google's privacy policy and how they can use your data. when you dealing with internet and nothing is secure.

Since there is not much alternate to flash (at least for now)Adobe should be more careful about less technical users and bloatware. somebody should remind them what happened Real player.

1 person liked this | gamoniac said:

Good article. I noticed the download page, too. It is time for Adobe to step up.

@Divvet,

Yet another flash bashing post, just install Google Chrome and get over it already...

You can't be serious to advise switching corporate browser choice just because of a plug-in. BTW, Chrome does not make it to more than a handful of big companies who have invested a lot in their web-based applications, simply because Chrome have new releases every three months. Those corporate apps need to be thoroughly tested and it is time-consuming. Each browser version update is a big undertaking. You can blame it on the developers/programmers/proprietory code, but that is what's taking place in big (and slow-moving) corporations.

For the record, I used to use Chrome exclusively but Opera is way cooler to use even on my Android tablet. Not going back to the lousy Chrome. Not sure what the big fuss is with Chrome; it sucks.

Guest said:

We have several in-house apps have been built on IE, one the culmination of 3+ years of 20+ programmers work interfacing with a couple different IBM mainframes and Imaging applications. Chrome is not really an option.

I had same problem and my solution was to use Secunia CSI. I disabled all softwares' auto-update and allow Secunia CSI to take care of it.

At home, I use Secunia PSI in all computers.

1 person liked this | spencer spencer said:

I agree with this article, I prefer html5 over flash any day. And the author makes some very good points say what you want but flash has been a weakness for a very long time.

Guest said:

Thanks for the article, didn't know adobe installed two different versions (?) on the same install (different processes as well?, and I assume different registry entries) they seem determined to loose what market they have left between this kind of thing, what you describe in the article, of course the security risk, and the difficulty of administration.

Tired of hearing about google and chrome as well b/c tired of being the product (iron anyone?) and having little alternative to flash. Bring on html5 asap. For pdfs, I like sumatra, as it comes with a portable version at 2.4mb - so does iron, but I've never gotten the portable version, windows only, to work.

2 people like this | tomkaten tomkaten said:

Adobe is crap and has been for years. I never install their stupid Flash from their site.

Filehippo.com rules for that, they even allowed for clean, offline installations of YM when Yahoo's online downloader would bundle it with lots of crapware.

So... Always download Flash from http://www.filehippo.com , x32 or x64, both the activeX and the plugin versions, install, select "never search for updates" when asked and you should be fine.

And btw, a Pentium 486 doesn't exist, different generations.

Kneep said:

I just use ninite to update the adobe crap

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

So... Always download Flash from filehippo, x32 or x64, both the activeX and the plugin versions, install, select "never search for updates" when asked and you should be fine.

We do offer the [link] , do note that the current installers contain both the x86 & x64 version of Flash nowdays, so it's only 2 EXE files to install and not 4 like before

So all you need to do is install the ActiveX version for IE and plugin version for Firefox / Opera

And btw, a Pentium 486 doesn't exist, different generations.

Oops, honest mistake there

Thanks for the article, didn't know adobe installed two different versions (?) on the same install (different processes as well?, and I assume different registry entries)

Yes, they are split between IE & Opera/Firefox however it is not a process per se, it is a plugin for the browser.

For example Chrome Sandboxes it, and Firefox does too via their "plugin-container.exe" process.

Opera tried this too but they actually reverted the change because it caused more browser crashes...

EEatGDL said:

Totally agree with the article, nothing to add. And no, I won't install more bloatware that looks for updates of programs I have installed.

lipe123 said:

Best way to deal with this: http://ninite.com/

Check Flash and flash (ie) and download the little exe. Each time things need updating just double click and its done.

Guest said:

LOL Flash. Best way to support viruses and other unhealthy stuff. Same as Java RE.

Also, since 11.3, Flash acts differently in FF too (some kind of protective method called Incubator).

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

Glad I have chrome, so I don't have to deal with this stuff. But good call with PDF-XChange Viewer. I've used it for a long time, and it always gets the job done nicely.

Guest said:

Flash is one of the Internet's most pernicious apps and Adobe is its evil progenitor, as this article clearly illustrates.

Polaco Polaco said:

This is another dumb idiotic Flash bashing article. I have never ever had any issue with Flash nor with Java.

This line tells me everything:

" I have to wonder if qualms such as these played a role in Steven Sinofsky's departure, but that's another discussion."

Thinking that is so dumb and mindless that tells me the rest of the article is a bunch of crap.

Associating an issue with an updater with an entire technology let me see your lack of sight.

I wonder why you, the author of this article, are not developing amazing apps with your brillant mind instead of writing crap.

Flash is awesome, for years and years you would have had plain dead web if wasn't thanks to Flash that allowed to create amazing stuff, no video no nothing.

So plain and simple screw you...

You remember me to the author of semmiacurate news, a poor guy that talks about everything and does nothing.

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Simple solution, remove flash, install Chrome. Tada, no more updater, no more unwanted software + a very secure browser.
I think you missed the point completely. Chrome IS, (or should be), the unwanted Software. Well that, and Google update.exe, Google analytics, et al.

Chrome is fast though, isn't it? The head gamers behind user interfaces know that makes you feel very important.

@Julio: Adobe Flash isn't the problem. It's the pervasive and invasive tactics of Google as they attempt to ram Chrome down the throat of everyone on the planet. One could easily speculate that Google has become powerful enough to strong arm Adobe into including their browser with the Flash installer.

However, Adobe and Google are on the same page trying to foist off software available by subscription only on unsuspecting users.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Ever try uninstalling software from Adobe? It spews .dlls and other files a

ll over your machine like it had exploded. Just extremely sloppy, careless programming.

The ubiquity of Photoshop gives Adobe a a monopoly and they just don't care about the end user because they don't have to. I will not have them on my machine if I can help it.

I replaced Photoshop with Paint.net (it is, of course, free) and I'm much happier.

As for the people whining about this article and defending Adobe ("You don't have to install the bloatware if you don't want to."--great argument.) I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

There are always people willing to defend anything.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

The ubiquity of Photoshop gives Adobe a a monopoly and they just don't care about the end user because they don't have to. I will not have them on my machine if I can help it.

I replaced Photoshop with Paint.net (it is, of course, free) and I'm much happier.

.

The trouble with this is, all of the other image editing editing I've played with, do not have adjustment layers. These are, non-destructive, and use very little memory. I'll jump ship when you can show me another program that has them.

Part of the reason for all the .dlls you're complaining about, is because Adobe imaging programs usurp color management from Windows. I think a similar issue occurs with GIMP, wherein you used to have to install a library package along with the editor. (The details are a bit vague to me though).

Other than that, yeah you're quite right, Adobe just piles module on top of module, to create new features, without ever repairing any underlying issues or overall bloat.

With all of that said, when you install Nero 6, it summarily creates120 registry entries with seemingly no purpose whatsoever. So, Adobe isn't the only garbage generator on the software front.

Guest said:

"I replaced Photoshop with Paint.net (it is, of course, free) and I'm much happier"

unbelivable! man if paint.net is enough for you good to know! Photoshop is for professionals no to kids trying to resize a photo!

"installing Chrome needs admin privileges"

yep... of course, on such envs admins will take care of updating machines too by giving updater processes enough privileges or by running massive update software. this article lacks of foundations.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

unbelivable! man if paint.net is enough for you good to know! Photoshop is for professionals no to kids trying to resize a photo!
UNBELIEVABLE! You actually think the only thing that can be done with Paint.NET, is resize photos. At least I agree with you that PhotoShop is for professionals. And your lack of using a good example, flags you as being a grand candidate to be a Paint.NET user.

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

UNBELIEVABLE! You actually think the only thing that can be done with Paint.NET, is resize photos. At least I agree with you that PhotoShop is for professionals. And your lack of using a good example, flags you as being a grand candidate to be a Paint.NET user.

I think "Guest" is having difficulty articulating his rage. Well, let's be frank and honest, Guest is having a hard time articulating most everything..

But seriously, you can resize photos with Photoshop? Wow that's heavy!

The next thing you'll be telling me is you can combine bracketed exposures and create HDR photographs.. I'm floored... Separate color channels even? Do contour mapping?

avoidz avoidz said:

I totally agree with combining the two Flash plugins for different browsers. It's a pain to do both when one installer could do the job. And I wish Adobe would drop the pre-selected crap from the install options too.

Guest said:

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater, Nuff said.

[link]

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

This is another dumb *****ic Flash bashing article. I have never ever had any issue with Flash nor with Java.

To use your own quote "This line tells me everything"

I'm glad you have never had any issues with Flash nor SUN JRE now Oracle, but when looking over the CVE reports for said software I think you are quite alone, indeed one of the largest reasons for systems getting infected with malware is due to end-users using outdated versions of these two softwares! (And Adobe sure does not help end-users with their dysfunctional software updaters)

"I have to wonder if qualms such as these played a role in Steven Sinofsky's departure, but that's another discussion."

Thinking that is so dumb and mindless that tells me the rest of the article is a bunch of crap.

Associating an issue with an updater with an entire technology let me see your lack of sight.

Let me answer this by simply using a longer quote from my own editorial, but with some added sources of information, the most prolific being Sinofsky himself.

"Microsoft surprised many of us by bundling the software with its operating system for the first time with Windows 8. This is after previously announcing that [link] -- a decision the company later reversed. I have to wonder if qualms such as these played a role in Steven Sinofsky's departure, but that's another discussion."

I wonder why you, the author of this article, are not developing amazing apps with your brillant mind instead of writing crap.

Because I am not a software developer, would you ask a fireman why he does not perform brain surgery too?

Flash is awesome, for years and years you would have had plain dead web if wasn't thanks to Flash that allowed to create amazing stuff, no video no nothing.

So plain and simple screw you...

You remember me to the author of semmiacurate news, a poor guy that talks about everything and does nothing.

If you think that amazing web technologies could not have been made without Flash through the years that tells me that you, just as I am not a software developer.

Thanks for comparing me with Charlie Demerjian, he wrote for example this article which in the end resulted in Apple, Dell et all suing nVidia over their improper underfill used for several series of GPU's, causing endless problems with dying GPU's, especially in laptops for end-users.

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater, Nuff said.

[link]

Very nice recommendation, thank you! It really shows when one guy out of Adobe can write a software updater in his spare time that works better than their own!

on such envs admins will take care of updating machines too by giving updater processes enough privileges or by running massive update software. this article lacks of foundations.

You actually believe that is the case for most large corporate networks? Boy do I have some bad news for you, one of the main reasons I wrote this article is from the point of the view of a big corporation. Because I work in one and there the Adobe updater surely does not work well unless you make the end-users local administrators of their own systems. And let me just refrain from explaining what a nightmare that would be! (And yes, I'm aware there are ways around this, but I'm not the IT guy at the company I work for).

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Well, I suppose you could say in Adobe's Flash Updater's defense, at least it updates the flash player. Which is a lot more than can be said of of Adobe's "adobeupdate.exe" in general.

I don't know if I saw it here, or in another thread, but someone asked the question, "why doesn't Adobe use one updater for all its programs.

Silly goose, that's because "adobeupdate.exe", should really be called, "adobeadware.exe". What it does, more than patch programs, (which it does all too rarely), is bring Adobe's advertising messages directly to your desktop.

Since each program has a different purpose, it stands to reason, that each program requires slightly different adware.

As far as the Flash updater goes, it seems to me if you check "automatically update Adobe Flash Player", then it seems you'll automatically get Google Chrome and a Google toolbar rammed up your kister. And sorry, that's a possibility, or perhaps an eventuality, I absolutely plan on avoiding.

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

@captaincranky enabling the silent auto updates wont bring you Chrome or the Google toolbar silently.

But it wont update to new point releases silently either, instead it will bring you that download prompt which takes you to a page where they are preselected for download.

And yea, I wrote this "Would it really be so hard to release one updater that handles all your software? I guess it boils down to whether or not your company likes to release bloated crap."

Guest said:

Just use PSI from "secunia.com". It has the ability to silent update all adobe flash versions installed

avoidz avoidz said:

Alternative Flash Player Auto-Updater, Nuff said.

[link]

That's not a bad utility. Just watch for the OpenCandy suggestions during installation.

Guest said:

The BIG problem is, many companies are scared s****less about stuff that does not work / apply to MS standard... :( :( this means they only trust the 'big software' even thougn it is &%$£!!!

yes, all the techs use the good alternatives, but it is the clueless men in suits, that are defining this policy, because MS says it is recognised!!! so we HAVE to use IE, adobe, etc.... and reader is the biggest poop I have to make sure of updates... :(

Guest said:

Do you blame the big suits for hanging on to 'what works' (or did work at one time) or 'good enough'? If you're talking about thousands of workstations being updated, then trying a new app becomes a very frightening proposition if you don't know what it's faults are. While it may run fine in a limited environment or on a few systems, that may be very different when it's deployed to thousands. I can see their willingness to keep with what they know well and not wanting to rock the boat. Change is good...in moderation... ;)

havok585 havok585 said:

Yet another flash bashing post, just install Google Chrome and get over it already. When your using Internet Explorer what do you expect? Also please stop spouting the HTML5 to replace Flash crap already. Flash ins't going to disappear anytime soon, so quit complaining.

Agree, while HTML5 may be a better solution for laptops, in terms of performance and quality, Flash wins, just try using youtube with html5 on one browser and another with flash plugin, u will see html5 has jerky playback vs flash smooth as silk (full HD ) playback !!

JC713 JC713 said:

HTML5 will be huge when youtube switches its player from flash over to HTML5. The new look and flat player doesnt work on IE8 but on Chrome and firefox and ie 10 it does. They just need IE8 to lose ground and then they push HTML5 then this will be the basis for others to switch over.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

HTML5 will be huge when youtube switches its player from flash over to HTML5.
Not well enough to counter-act the disruption of their commercials.

Guest said:

It would be nice to have the adobe grouping, ungrouped and shown vulnerabilities by product.

I think it would be less vulnerable than itunes however I haven't seen news bashing Apple here...

[image link]

JC713 JC713 said:

Not well enough to counter-act the disruption of their commercials.

ugh u cant embed commercials in html5?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

@captaincranky enabling the silent auto updates wont bring you Chrome or the Google toolbar silently.

But it wont update to new point releases silently either, instead it will bring you that download prompt which takes you to a page where they are preselected for download.

So both update buttons do exactly the same thing? That's a big load off my mind, and yet all at once, monumentally stupid...

And yea, I wrote this "Would it really be so hard to release one updater that handles all your software? I guess it boils down to whether or not your company likes to release bloated crap."
Oh, I use the biggest piece of Adobe bloatware in existence, Photoshop Elements. Adobe has a captive audience for this offering, and an audience without much computer savvy. It's now programmed "offshore", it's never patched, just replaced on an almost yearly basis. People can't wait to throw a hundred bucks each year at Adobe, for only the most minute of feature additions.

The "experts" in their forum recommend storing all your images in "C/:", "My Documents", "My Pictures". I can't process the logic in that, you know, like in case you have to reformat, but I was assured that's the way to go. I haven't posted there in a while, and I quit buying the program after PSE-7. As Roberto Duran so famously said, "no mas".

Adobe changed from M$ data base, to the free SQLite. (@ PSE-6, I believe) Couple that with sloppy programming, and you have a photo organizer section that takes, (literally), 5 times as long to import photos and put up their thumbnails, as did earlier versions.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

ugh u cant embed commercials in html5?

To be honest I couldn't tell you what they can or can not embed. Youtube is currently showing commercials with their videos. I don't see this changing with the use of HTML5. As far as I'm concerned all the pros are thrown off the table as soon as the first commercial is shown regardless of whether it is Flash or HTML5.

Polaco Polaco said:

So.. what would be your approach to avoid youtube showing commercials? how would you make it a profitable product/service? making people pay a subscription fee?

or are we just going to complain about everything that is there for free?

people love to complaint, love to criticize, however in the majority of cases no one makes a constructive contribution just detracts others efforts to make them self feel better than what they are...

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

So.. what would be your approach to avoid youtube showing commercials?
My approach is rarely watching videos on Youtube. The day Youtube started showing ads was the day I started avoiding Youtube. To be honest, I don't have a problem with advertising. It's the fuc--king sh--it they advertise that drives me crazy. Especially when they show the same stup-id commercial over and over.

But the topic of Youtube is drifting from the OP topic. Lets get back to Adobe and their updater.

Guest said:

Macromedia rules!

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

I have tried to help them because they are of the more interesting gender

Made me chuckle.

Guest said:

Win7 64 SP1 machine. Wasn't paying attention to the Adobe Updater prompt and ended up with Chrome installed. Followed instructions for removal and basically rendered my machine useless. All default file type associations were associated with Chrome (which I uninstalled). The great folks at Google conveniently left out the coding to reset your file types to default upon it's removal. No browser could be accessed, no fix-it program could be downloaded, and no .exe files could be executed. Finally found a .reg file that changed my .exe problem, but only on my Admin. profile. Other home users are still bricked due to botched registry entries remaining from Google. You can't even access a Command Prompt, let alone an Elevated Prompt (required in Win7 64 to make Reg. changes apply to all Users). Bottom line? I should have paid closer attention. But what's to say for the majority out there who don't know what nasties are exploiting their machines, and how they're doing it? Adobe bundling this software was shady business. I also don't think it is asking too much for Adobe to have 1 updater handling all of their products, and to limit the activity to just that.

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