For a little while Digsby has been bundling software with their installer as a way for them to make money. They try to get users to install the third party apps, and in return they get a pretty good payout. This isn’t anything new, and we’ve tried to point this out to our readers whenever we’ve written about Digsby.

As Lifehacker noticed last week it’s starting to get a little out of hand. During the setup routine it tries to get you to install up to six different pieces of crapware now, which is something I wasn’t aware of. The last time I had to install Digsby from scratch was months ago, and I only remember there being one or maybe two different apps it tried to push on me. Ever since then Digsby has just been self-updating so I’ve never had to go through the process again.

That’s enough to irk me right there, but the thing that really made me jump the bridge was what Lifehacker noticed in the Terms of Service:

You agree to permit the Software to use the processing power of your computer when it is idle to run downloaded algorithms (mathematical equations) and code within a process. You understand that when the Software uses your computer, it likewise uses your CPU, bandwidth, and electrical power. The Software will use your computer to solve distributed computing problems, such as but not limited to, accelerating medical research projects, analyzing the stock market, searching the web, and finding the largest known prime number. This functionality is completely optional and you may disable it at any time.

Yeah, you can disable this functionality… but how many people actually knew it was even doing this? And for that matter how long has it been doing this? Every time Digsby updates itself I don’t recall having to accept a new agreement, and so are they pushing this on me without ever having shown it in an agreement? Granted I probably wouldn’t have read the agreement anyhow, and I’m sure they’re aware of that which is why they tucked it there in the first place. That’s what makes this even more double-crossing.

Digsby came forward to comment on all the negative publicity they were getting, and have since rolled out a release that makes the whole “distributed computing” thing a bit more transparent to users. Overall I’m pretty disappointed with Digsby. I don’t know if I can trust a company that only admits to something once they’ve been confronted about it. They knew darn well what they were doing when they put this in the Terms of Service, and then tucked the option to disable the functionality in some menus that most people never look at (and for that matter should never have to look at). I’ve seen plenty of other programs go down this road, but some are a bit more tasteful about it. CCleaner, for example, has a version that tries to install a toolbar, but at the same time they also offer a “slim” version that is bundled with no third-party software.

I’ve recommended this software to so many other people that I’m now left wondering how many PC’s have been unknowingly contaminated. Most tech-savvy people are smart enough to not install the extra junk, but what about everyone else? For now I’m going to hold off on recommending Digsby to anyone until their team finally figures out what revenue model they are going to pursue.

In the meantime I’ve switched to Miranda, and even though it’s taken a significant amount of time to customize I’d say the end result is well worth it. I now have a messenger that uses less than 7MB of memory on my machine, and some of the plug-ins available really make it shine. I’ll talk about these customizations more in a future article for those of you who are also looking for another alternative.

So what about you… are you sticking with Digsby?