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Parallels pledges roll-back fix after silent 'trojan' freebie install triggers punter outrage

Deus ex virtual machina

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Parallels has promised to change the registration process of its virtualisation software for Macs after users complained that the technology introduced a "trojan-like" update functionality, intended to push a six month freebie trial of its new Access product.

The release of Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac, the latest version of the virtual-machine software that allows users to run Windows apps on a Mac computer (among other things) was accompanied by howls of discontent from several people on Parallels' user forum. The complaints centered on the automatic and silent install of Access trial software. Access allows Windows and Mac apps to be run from an iPad fondleslab.

Complaints arose because the software was installed to users' system without their consent, using a saved admin password that punters were not asked to re-enter. Worse yet, the desktop client launched Access without informed consent, signing into an external server in the process: a range of behaviours that allowed the more vociferous critics to compare the technology to a trojan.

Parallels responded to queries by El Reg with a statement promising to improve the offending registration process. In the meantime users can disable the offending technology using the in-built preferences options, it adds.

Parallels appreciates and listens to customer feedback. Parallels plans to release a hot fix update for Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac next week which will improve the registration process to give the customer a choice to install Parallels Access upon initial installation of Parallels Desktop 9. In the event that the customer doesn't want to install at that time, they can easily do so from within Parallels Desktop 9 from the Preferences menu where it will be displayed as an option.

Simon H, the Reg reader who brought this issue to our attention, commented:

"Sounds very much like they've realised they've dropped a big one here and are shoving out an update that'll ask the user before installing the Access feature. If they ask, and also say what it means, then I'm happy - it's the silent install that's upset people.

"It's not the Parallels update that is the problem, but the fact that with the upgrade, they are bundling in a 6 month freebie access to their new Access product," he added.

Our Parallels user went on:

"I really cannot imagine what asinine piece of groupthink came up with this insane idea. 'I know, lets include a new feature in the next version that automatically and silently opens their machine up for remote connections - what could possibly go wrong?'"

Parallels allows Mac users to fire up a virtual machine running Windows, Linux, or even another Mac on their trusty fruitchomp-branded machine. ®

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