No, it is not.
Then why are so many people concerned about it? Why is the next question
most people ask “How do I get rid of it?”
Probably because they didn’t ask for it, they don’t know why it’s on their
machine, and their firewall is suddenly reporting that it’s attempting to
access the internet. All things that have come to be associated with…
you guessed it…
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I recently received email from a marketing representative at Viewpoint
pointing out that “Viewpoint has a clean bill of health from liutilities,
hijackthis, Pestpatrol, Adaware, System Info, Computer Cops, Webroot
Spysweeper, Microsoft Anti-Spyware Beta, and more…”, and directing me to
The FAQ is very informative,
and clears up many of the assumptions that people have been making, confirming
some and stating others to be false. I encourage anyone with concerns to read
But from a consumer’s perspective, the problem still remains. Let me address
the points I made at the beginning.
They didn’t ask for it. Viewpoint components are installed
as a side effect of installing other software, most notably AOL and AOL Instant
Messenger (AIM). The software claims to be “required”, but I have a hard time
understanding why I need yet another media player in order to chat with friends
on AIM. The fact that Viewpoint is installed at all, and more importantly, how
visible this fact is, is in the hands of these other packages. Personally, I
would expect that a) Viewpoint would be optional, and as such b) I would be
given a clear choice at setup time for these other software packages. Sadly
that is not always the case, and Viewpoint can simply “appear”, seemingly
They don’t know why it’s on their machine. As I just
pointed out, I have no clue as to why I would need another media player in
order to chat with my friends on AIM. The same is true for many packages that
include Viewpoint software. Some clearly need the technology to deliver their
functionality. But for others, Viewpoint is used only when certain features are
used. If you never use those features, or never even think about those features
even existing, the presence of an unexpected package such as Viewpoint is at
best, confusing, and at worst quite distressing.
Their firewall is suddenly reporting that it’s attempting to access
the internet. I understand why this happens, and from a technical
perspective, it’s a good thing. Viewpoint, or more specifically viewmgr.exe, is
checking for updates of the Viewpoint software. Many software packages now do
this automatically as a way to ensure that as many of their users have the
latest and most stable releases. The problem here is the cascading effect of
the previous two points: you didn’t ask for it, you don’t know what it is, and
all of a sudden it wants to access the internet? Of course that’s going to
raise concerns, as well it should.
So what’s the answer?
In my opinion:
- Viewpoint, and the other companies that package Viewpoint software, need to
do a much better job of educating users at install time about
Viewpoint, what it is and why it’s being installed.
- Viewpoint should be clearly made an optional install in almost all
- Viewpoint should be easily uninstalled. (Their FAQ seems to indicate that it is, but user experiences as
reflected in the comments on my viewmgr.exe
article report varying degrees of success.)
- Consumers need to pay attention to what we’re installing. In many cases
packages like Viewpoint are called out on software installs and often
are optional, if you’d only take the time to look. I, for one, rarely
accept “default” installs for exactly this reason … without looking, I don’t
know what I’m getting.