Not a thing wrong with making some money. Right? Well, that's the great contradiction in both the open-source and freeware worlds. Everyone loves software that performs a unique task (or replicates the unique tasks of paid-for applications), but the second an aspiring developer attempts to tack a moneymaking scheme to an otherwise free program, said developer might as well call up the fire department and Internet police--there are going to be torches, pitchforks, and angry blog posts knocking on the front door within short order.
It's almost too easy to blame the developer. And for good reason: There's a definitive lack of add-ons, advertisements, and other such cash-generating schemes that actually deliver a valuable service to the user. But, to be fair, users share the fault--if you don't want to read the instructions, you only have yourself to blame for the various toolbars that have been installed on your machine as a result of your super-fast clicking on the "next" button in any given app's installer.
So what do we do? Is it fair of the open-source and freeware world to scorn any developer that tries to make a quick buck? Is it similarly fair for developers to pack their software to the gills with crapware in the hopes that you forget to uncheck a box or two whilst installing? How do we merge the capitalistic ideals of making money with the altruistic aspirations of consumer freeware and open-source development?
In addition to the heavily touted Sidewiki feature in the new Google Toolbar, the browser add-on also includes Google's advanced in-page translation for Firefox users, "making it easy to read a webpage in another language with the click of a button," Google said in a blog post.
Throwing another bone to Firefox users, the updated toolbar works in sync with Firefox version 3.5's Private Browsing Mode and will not record your search box history when maneuvering stealthily around the Web. PageRank, Web History, and Sidewiki are also turned off, freeing users up to visit the Detroit Lions support group without leaving any embarrassing traces behind.
If you plan to run Google's latest toolbar with your browser, you'll need to use something other than Google Chrome. As quirky as that sounds, here's the message Chrome users are receiving when trying to pair the two together:
"We're sorry, but Google Toolbar 5 is only available for Internet Explorer and Firefox."
It should be pointed out that if you're rocking with Chrome, you probably don't need the Google Toolbar anyway, but regardless, we can't imagine pushing users -- even a small fraction of them -- to competing products is the best idea.
For you Chrome users wondering if you're missing out on all the fun, the Google Toolbar offers Google search, bookmarks, search suggestions, Web history, and shortcuts to Google apps, or pretty much everything that comes built into Chrome already.
Back in September of this year Google launched their Mobile Search with My Location service, which allowed users of mobile devices to quickly and easily find nearby points of interest. And now, it looks like that very same functionality is making its way to your computer.
Google’s Toolbar will now feature My Location. This addition will allow Google Maps and their own Maps gadget to automatically close in on your location, allowing you to type less into your search box when tracking down the closest pizza place. “You can just do a search like [thai food], and you will receive a list of nearby restaurants and more local Google search results,” wrote Aseem Sood and Susan Ting, members of the Toolbar Product Team at Google. “This feature is similar to IP-based local search results announced earlier this month, except Google Toolbar with My Location can determine a more accurate location by using nearby Wi-Fi access points. This is done without associating location information with a user's Google Account. Google Toolbar with My Location is only available in the U.S.”
Unfortunately, the Google Toolbar will continue to be available only for Internet Explorer (someone should let these guys know that they have their very own browser too!), and there’s no word on an official release date. But, according to the official Google Blog, they “hope to bring you the next batch soon.”
It's an all-too-familiar marketing ploy: download a utility you really want, and get a toolbar for your browser free. This week, Microsoft joined the "download one, get one free" bandwagon, but with a twist: Redmond announced a deal with Sun Microsystems to offer the MSN Toolbar to US users of Internet Explorer whenever they download the Java Runtime Environment. MSN Toolbar offers one-click access to Live Search, direct access to Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger, and stories from the MSN network. If you hate toolbars, or your browser's already running your favorite toolbar, you can opt out of the MSN toolbar.
This Microsoft plus Sun pairing represents a big "win" for Microsoft, as Google's toolbar was previously being offered as the freebie with Java. As El Reg points out, this sort of thing is nothing new for Sun and Java. Java's also been used to deliver offers of OpenOffice and the Yahoo! toobar (the latter to Mozilla Firefox browser users only).
So, how do you feel about these combo deals? Would you rather get a coupon for free french fries, or are you comfortable with getting "two for one" downloads"? Join us after the jump and sound off.