Dennis Batchelder – Free Software going from puppies to beer

Presented at the SERENE-RISC Spring workshop 2016.

As anybody who uses a PC has discovered, the “free” software industry is a mess. Customers have become very suspicious of every offer, and use a jaundiced eye to double-check each checkbox and click. Still they make mistakes and end up with unwanted software. This industry now makes up over ninety percent of all malware “infections”.
It’s a classic case of the tragedy of the commons: because of a lack of self-control, the software monetization industry is destroying its supply. The cycle is fast and vicious: aggressive distribution brings higher revenues and higher customer complaints. Complaints drive antimalware vendors and platforms to add friction to software installs and to issue ever-stricter guidelines. The industry responds with increased evasion, even more aggressive behavior, and a loss of opportunity for those trying to be decent.
Can the software monetization industry be saved? Should it be? Dennis will walk through the pros and cons of taking on the industry that has been preying on the hardest vulnerabilities of all: the human ones. He’ll present a vision of how self-regulation can bring the industry back under control, and how consumer awareness of the problem will help eradicate the worst players.