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Author Topic: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.  (Read 25067 times)

IainB

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On 2011-02-26 I downloaded Nuance PDF Reader ($FREE) via an email from digitalriver.com that said:
Quote
Thank you for your interest in Nuance PDF Reader.
To access your download of Nuance PDF Reader software, click here.
By confirming your email address and downloading the file, you are signing up to receive periodic follow-up emails regarding the Nuance PDF Reader.
Any emails we send you will contain unsubscribe information, and you may opt-out of future emails at any time.
________________________________
What wasn't explained to me was that Acresso/FLEXnet "marketing" software would be silently installed at the same time as Nuance PDF Reader, but I fortunately became aware of this as soon as it first tried to phone home, which caused my Windows 7 Firewall Control to ask me what permissions I wanted to grant it - so I disabled all of its outbound access. This effectively ring-fenced the problem software.

I nevertheless determined to stick with it and give the Nuance PDF Reader a fair trial anyway, despite the above detestable marketing practice.

My conclusions on Nuance PDF Reader:
  • Primarily, it seems to be an annoying 5th column marketing teaser, offering no particular advantages, for which you pay the price by letting it in through the door in the first place and then regret later. It has its advertising contained inside the application.
  • It seems to be cuckoo software and persistently takes over the file association to PDF files across your system (including Firefox), which you then have to restore manually.
  • It offers arguably less and certainly little or nothing more than Adobe Reader (also $FREE and with no Annoyware/Adware).

So here it is, over a year later. I had been putting it off until I felt strong enough to confront the de-lousing of my system of the Nuance PDF Reader parasite. Yesterday I had a quick google about it and after reading this:
Quote
How to remove Nuance PDF reader from Firefox (& short review)

If like some people you install the free Nuance PDF reader, then uninstall it but it's still taking over PDFs in Firefox, here is how I got rid of it. It worked for me, but your mileage may vary... (read the rest at the hyperlink above)
- I took control and:
  • used RevoUninstaller to remove Nuance PDF Reader.    :Thmbsup:
  • This promptly caused it to try to phone home again (I blocked that too) - thanks Windows 7 Firewall Control.    :Thmbsup:
  • However, I had to manually delete the Acresso/FLEXnet Connect agent software bits - which had been buried away in a couple of separate parts of the OS. I used Unlocker to forcefully delete any open files/folders that had been locked by residual running processes. Unlocker can also kill the locking processes at the same time as deleting the files/folders.    :Thmbsup:
  • Just in case, I checked for and expunged any and all residual Registry traces/hooks of these proggies (Nuance, Acresso/FLEXnet Connect) from the Registry, using CCleaner.    :Thmbsup:
  • I doublechecked that the system was all clear by searching for relevant files/folders using Locate32.   :Thmbsup:

As regards the extent of OS hook embedding and OS damage, I would estimate Nuance PDF Reader as rating about 4 or 5 on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), where any Norton/Symantec product would be 10. So Nuance PDF Reader is rather like a relatively harmless trojan/virus.

Nuance PDF Reader is clearly a common Nuisance. For example, on the Microsoft Answers forum there is this post:
Quote
What is Acresso software manager agent and how do I get rid of it?
GerodS [MSFT] replied on August 18, 2011
Did you install Nuance PDF Reader recently?  In my case this was the culprit.  I foundt his out by going to C:\ProgramData\FLEXnet\Connect and looking at the date of the folders in there.  Then I found the "installed on" column in "Add remove programs" to find what I installed on the date.  I found in my case that it was the Nuance PDF Reader.

Then I found this Via Bing:
http://www.killdeal....f-converter-pro-6-0/
Check out the first comment at the bottom:  "To my surprise, the ’software vendor’, Nuance in this case, decided to remove the ‘disable automatic…’ option and, whether I wanted it or not, my computer was going to call Nuance every day at 10 a.m., just to say ‘hi’, I suppose. To their credit, ACRESSO has an ‘uninstall’ utility at their own site and, hopefully, the the process was successful but I do NOT appreciate Nuance’s insistence of staying in touch with my computer, whether I wanted it or not and without asking for my permission. The Reference Guide does not mention ACRESSO, FLEXnet Connect or the fact that some third party software was installed."
I did not find good directions for uninstalling this on this Accresso site, so I am in the middle of uninstalling the PDF Reader instead...

iphigenie

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2012, 05:21:40 AM »
I find Adobe PDF a huge monster. I liked it up to version 6, then it has gone mad, huge, and forces updates all the time.

Nitro PDF reader is actually pretty good and no hidden gifts that I know of. Quick to start, has print-to-PDF and a few editing features http://www.nitroreader.com/

I have the Pro tool paid, but on other computers I put that one

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2012, 06:37:20 AM »
Ah, pdf , one of those understated topics. Sorry to hear that Nuance is so nasty. : (

The point of those small 3rd party readers was supposed to be that they were tightly coded and efficient without Adobe Reader's bloat. There were a couple threads here a while ago discussing a few of them.

Most of the PDFs I look at are science papers, so I haven't seen any/many malicious ones. So I really haven't put much effort in trying to replace Reader.

tomos

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2012, 11:10:44 AM »
Thanks Iain for the report

Nitro PDF reader is actually pretty good and no hidden gifts that I know of. Quick to start, has print-to-PDF and a few editing features http://www.nitroreader.com/
veering off-topic -
Nitro PDF also have a helpful Firefox add-on: 
http://www.pdfdownload.org/
Tom

J-Mac

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2012, 12:48:08 PM »
I have had most versions of Nuance PDF Converter Pro installed, so apparently this has been on my machine(s) for a long time!

Wait - I just searched for both "Acresso" and "Flexnet" on my current box and it's in a lot of places: all the Nuance apps (PDF Pro, OmniPage Pro, PaperPort Pro) as well as Macrovision and anything to do with Installshield. Most places it seems to be associated with ARPProduction.exe, which despite the .exe extension does not seem to be an executable. (??)

Neither Norton AV 2012 nor Malwarebytes has any problem with all of this. Computer scans clean at all the usual online scanners, too. Does anyone have anymore detailed info on these?

Thanks!

Jim

superboyac

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2012, 01:57:10 PM »
Nuance pdf in the past has gotten rave reviews, so I've tried it several times.  I also have to agree with IanB, it always felt like one of those software that was getting its fingers all over your computer.  So after trying it a few times, I didn't like it.  It didn't do anything particularly special for me and it was a nuisance.

I still stand by Bluebeam as the best pdf toolbox out there, by a longshot too.

mwb1100

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2012, 06:14:24 PM »
I've settled on the following PDF reading solution after I got tired of Adobe Reader's increasing instability and getting caught out by some malware in a PDF that my "AV" software didn't catch:

  - STDU Reader (free for personal use) as a stand-alone, tabbed reader
  - Sumatra PDF for the browser plug-in

It seems neither of these bits of software engage in deceptive marketing practices, and neither of them support Javascript execution in the PDF (AFAIK), so I figure they should be pretty resistant to PDF-bourne malware.

I'm not sure if they're lacking in features that people might want, but they let me open and read PDF files, and that's pretty much all I need from a PDF reader.

superboyac

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2012, 03:26:04 AM »
I've settled on the following PDF reading solution after I got tired of Adobe Reader's increasing instability and getting caught out by some malware in a PDF that my "AV" software didn't catch:

  - STDU Reader (free for personal use) as a stand-alone, tabbed reader
  - Sumatra PDF for the browser plug-in

It seems neither of these bits of software engage in deceptive marketing practices, and neither of them support Javascript execution in the PDF (AFAIK), so I figure they should be pretty resistant to PDF-bourne malware.

I'm not sure if they're lacking in features that people might want, but they let me open and read PDF files, and that's pretty much all I need from a PDF reader.
Well, yeah, they are lacking in a lot of features.  I'd say that someone trying to use a program like Nuance pdf reader is trying to do more than "view" pdf's, which is basically all that the free ones provide.  Unfortunately, it seems like most of the more powerful pdf suites consistently install a bunch of heavy duty anti-piracy measures.  Adobe is chock full of it with their acrobat, I sometimes thing 500MB of the 1GB installer is dedicated to anti piracy measures.  Same with Nuance.  Bluebeam also has a fairly sophisticated license checking mechanism, but the program's speed and responsiveness is very snappy (especially the 64 bit version, really good).  But back to the point, I wouldn't suggest that a lightweight free pdf reader like Sumatra is a replacement for Nuance or Acrobat Pro.  That's like saying Notepad is a replacement for microsoft word.  Or an ipad is a replacement for a Windows desktop.  Or a golf cart is a replacement for 18 wheeler. Or...

Carol Haynes

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2012, 05:45:34 AM »
Haven't used it in years (I have Adobe Acrobat installed) but Foxit PDF software always used to get good reviews.

http://www.foxitsoftware.com/downloads/

FWIW Nuance have always been awful (IMHO) - as far as I can tell all there stuff is just rebranded products from other companies (which they presumably bought out) and it is all over priced for what it actually does.

f0dder

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2012, 06:06:11 AM »
It offers arguably less and certainly little or nothing more than Adobe Reader (also $FREE and with no Annoyware/Adware).
Probably less security flaws as well.

Unless you need some of the advanced features Adobe PDF offers, nobody should be running that P.O.S software. And even if you use an alternate PDF reading application, you shouldn't be using browser plugins for it - its really not that big a hassle to view with an external reader, and it's so much safer.

As for replacement programs, I've found both Foxit and Sumatra to be decent choices. Foxit can render slightly slow with really complex PDFs, but usually it's just fine. Sumatra is lean and mean - some years back it was somewhat unstable, but it seems nice these days, and I'm contemplating using it as my main PDF reader instead of Foxit.

Ah yes, almost forgot - here's one more reason to stay the hell away from Adobe products.
- carpe noctem

michaelkenward

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2012, 06:17:27 AM »
Flexnet is there to monitor for updates to Nuance software. It also feeds ad junk from Nuance. But it is not "adware" that churns out all sorts of guff. It merely tells you about new versions of Nuance software.

It has nothing to do with free/paid for versions of Nuance software. You get it with paid for software.

You can disable the software in startup using msconfig.

While this stuff can be annoying, and is a bad way of informing users about software updates, it is hardly a crime against humanity.

Yet another case of paranoia runs deep.

If you really want to see unacceptable behaviour, install anything from NCH software. This stomps all over your registry and imposes file associates with just about anything and everything, resulting in all manner of popups and invitations to install, and buy, yet more NCH software.
MK

NigelH

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2012, 07:27:41 AM »
Going back off topic, but I didn't want to reopen the old PDF viewer thread

Is anyone using Bluebeam Vu as their PDf viewer (or perhaps even tried it)?

cyberdiva

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2012, 08:28:57 AM »
Several years ago, I switched to the free version of PDF-XChange Viewer, which had been highly recommended to me.  I've been very happy with it ever since.  I see that Gizmo's Best Freeware site lists PDF-XChange Viewer as its top pick:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-non-adobe-pdf-reader.htm.

tomos

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2012, 08:37:41 AM »
I've settled on the following PDF reading solution after I got tired of Adobe Reader's increasing instability and getting caught out by some malware in a PDF that my "AV" software didn't catch:

  - STDU Reader (free for personal use) as a stand-alone, tabbed reader
  - Sumatra PDF for the browser plug-in

It seems neither of these bits of software engage in deceptive marketing practices, and neither of them support Javascript execution in the PDF (AFAIK), so I figure they should be pretty resistant to PDF-bourne malware.

I'm not sure if they're lacking in features that people might want, but they let me open and read PDF files, and that's pretty much all I need from a PDF reader.

Well, yeah, they are lacking in a lot of features.  I'd say that someone trying to use a program like Nuance pdf reader is trying to do more than "view" pdf's, which is basically all that the free ones provide.

I was kind of wondering why you were mentioning bluebeam earlier - I presumed Nuance Reader was just that - a reader. But I see it does do a lot more...
Tom

IainB

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2012, 09:15:29 AM »
...While this stuff can be annoying, and is a bad way of informing users about software updates, it is hardly a crime against humanity.
Yet another case of paranoia runs deep.
If you really want to see unacceptable behaviour, install anything from NCH software. This stomps all over your registry and imposes file associates with just about anything and everything, resulting in all manner of popups and invitations to install, and buy, yet more NCH software.

The issue does not seem to be our opinions regarding the degree of "badness" of the software, but simply that it has been designed to do the spammy/adware stuff that it does.
Regarding Nuance PDF Reader, there was no suggestion of ranking it alongside "crimes against humanity" or suggesting the need to be paranoid. The absurd association and hyperbole that you mention thus does nothing to defend the software from, or refute, the real evidence uncovered by myself and others (QED) as to just how much of a NU-IS-ANCE the thing actually is, out there in the field.
All spammy/adware garbage like Nuance PDF Reader and the execrable NCH software that you mention seems to survive not only by being borderline illegal at worst (e.g., NCH does a "bait and switch"), but also because it is not a crime for software to put "hooks" into the OS or "stomp all over the registry" as you put it - Norton/Symantec products arguably being amongst the the worst offenders of the latter.

The only protection we users seem to have against this is information and communication - by users/potential suckers warning each other "caveat emptor" - e.g., some of the users otherwise would seem to be blissfully unaware of what has been going on with the software on their computers (QED re Nuance PDF Reader).

That was why I opened the discussion: NCH Software - "There Be Dragons", and reported on my quick install/de-install of the software in the discussion Re: Norton Identity Safe -- Free Download.

IainB

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2012, 09:31:25 AM »
...I see that Gizmo's Best Freeware site lists PDF-XChange Viewer as its top pick:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-non-adobe-pdf-reader.htm.
Thanks for that link.    :Thmbsup:
I found it super-useful because it gives a quick comparison between several of the alternative-to-Adobe PDF readers, some of which have been mentioned in this discussion thread (above).

x16wda

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2012, 07:30:40 PM »
I switched to the free version of PDF-XChange Viewer, which had been highly recommended to me.  I've been very happy with it ever since.  I see that Gizmo's Best Freeware site lists PDF-XChange Viewer as its top pick:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-non-adobe-pdf-reader.htm.
I switched based on Gizmo's suggestion too, until I found that the software had some difficulties rendering several work-related forms properly.  Switched to Sumatra and have been happy since then.  However I'm always happy to revisit my choices when something better comes along, so I pulled down copies of STDU Reader and Bluebeam to look at.
vi vi vi - editor of the beast

J-Mac

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2012, 10:49:46 PM »
Besides PDF Converter Pro 8 (which is the equivalent of the full Acrobat program, not just a reader), which I use for creating and editing PDF files, I also have the free and portable version of PDF XChange installed and I use that for a PDF reader. For in-the-browser PDF viewing if the PDF file is the result of a Google search I click on the "Quick View" link on the search page and it opens in Google Docs. If it is from a link on a web page I have Firefox configured to use its own PDF viewer - a new feature in Firefox 15. Chrome also has its own built-in reader.

Jim

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2012, 11:37:13 PM »
whoa...I wasn't even aware of Bluebeam Vu!  Thanks.  I'll have to check it out.  Bluebeam has always made nice products in my opinion.

As for purely readers, my favorite back when I went through them all, was also PDF-Xchange.  Fast and snappy, had tabs, wasn't lacking in any features or customizeable options.  It was so good, it was even worth the $30 or whatever for a viewer only.  I did not like most of the more popular ones like Foxit and similars.  Sumatra is also very good, but it's extremely lightweight.  It's good for reading, and that's about it.  There's also this issue of rendering times in these programs.  Some programs are laid out really nicely and have great features, but they have bad pdf rendering times, which sucks.  That's why for the viewer, I liked PDF-XChange the best.  For any kind of pdf work, I turn to Bluebeam.  And for that matter, the latest Acrobat Pro that I use at work is also pretty great for viewing.  I know it's not worth spending $500 for just a pdf viewer, but the latest X version is nice and fast and everything.  Just FYI, I know it's not practical.

And I'm with IanB on this sort of stuff.  I don't like these software programs that have all these services specifically for checking updates and ads and licensing.  I remember trying Nuance a couple of years ago: it had awesome ratings by just about everyone on the net, and I was looking for Bluebeam alternatives because I didn't want to pay for it at the time.  I tried it out and didn't understand at all what was so great about it.  It didn't do anything much at all better than Acrobat.  It didn't offer the clever and highly innovative features of Bluebeam, it was a huge install with all those services, it was a pain uninstalling it...just awful experience.  I eventually assumed they must have just marketed the product on the web really well.  I hope their flagship Dragon software doesn't have these issues, last time I tried that it was an amazing TTS software.

J-Mac

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2012, 12:03:58 AM »
Biggest problem with Nuance I have found is that despite the fact that they haven't created a damn thing - as someone posted above Nuance has purchased everything they sell from other companies (or purchased the companies?) and then just re-branded them. And then they putout a new major version every year regardless of whether or not they have added anything worthwhile. In most cases I haven't found any improvements but quite the opposite. Keeping up that should completely ruin every program they offer. IMO Dragon Naturally Speaking has no improved since they re-branded it from Scansoft.

Thanks!

Jim

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #20 on: October 01, 2012, 04:34:17 AM »
In most cases I haven't found any improvements but quite the opposite. Keeping up that should completely ruin every program they offer. IMO Dragon Naturally Speaking has no improved since they re-branded it from Scansoft.

As much as I understand of this, it has, indeed, been the pattern for Nuance software over the years. However, the latest incarnation of DNS does seem to have a few improvements worth having. In particular, it now looks at the processing power of the PC it sits on and moves up a gear if it finds plenty of processing power. I have certainly noticed a difference over DNS 11.5.

As to the other packages, too often the "updates" merely squelch bugs that should have been fixed in updates and patches. Some also introduce instabilities. (We chew over this endlessly on the PaperPort Google Group, where Nuance's victims shelter for comfort and self support.) But there is usually some tangible improvement in there – often minor, I agree – that really does add something. For example, the latest version of PaperPort introduces new desktop icons that tell you much more about the underlying PDF file. If it contains a text overlay, for example.

The version before that added native OCR, eliminating the need for a third party OCR package, such as OmniPage, to create searchable PDF files. Again, an improvement worth the upgrade price for many users.

Nuance has also taken to throwing cloud storage into new versions of its software. But reflecting the disparate origins of the software, it uses different cloud services with different software, and does not seem to have thought of integrating them. So PaperPort has PaperPort Anywhere, a version of OfficeDrop – but one that will not cohabit with OfficeDrop – while PDF Converter Professional 8 uses Gladinet.

Many people do not need "cloud". But its inclusion in PaperPort has convinced me that it is a useful tool in these increasingly mobile days. I have PaperPort Anywhere and other clouds connecting my android devices, my laptop and PCs.

One "bug" that seems to have gone from PDF Converter Professional 8 is the insane activation regime that kicked in if you managed to boot your PC with a different array of USB drives connected. Nuance has always been more paranoid about activation than anyone else, but it had become so bad that it was driving away potential customers (Check the Amazon reviews for PDFC 7.) But you should not have to buy another version to mend their defects.

Finally, to repeat, the FLEXnet thing, which describes itself as a "Software Manager", is not adware as any reasonable person would recognise it. The only "ads" you will get are occasional notifications, probably every year or so, of new versions of your Nuance products, along with genuine update alerts for your existing software. As Nuance rarely puts out updates, and is painfully slow at fixing known bugs, and upgrades are biennial rather than annual, it is usually adequate to simply disable it using msconfig in startup and then running it manually from time to time.
MK

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #21 on: October 01, 2012, 06:24:39 AM »
Michael

Thanks v much for the Google Group link - I found many invaluable tips there esp by Joe Winograd

Rgds
Ska

Tinman57

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #22 on: October 01, 2012, 08:25:34 PM »
Several years ago, I switched to the free version of PDF-XChange Viewer, which had been highly recommended to me.  I've been very happy with it ever since.  I see that Gizmo's Best Freeware site lists PDF-XChange Viewer as its top pick:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-non-adobe-pdf-reader.htm.


I've been using PDFXchangeViewer for years now.  It has an excellent GUI, lots of options, bells & whistles.  I used to use Foxit before I discovered PDFXchange...

michaelkenward

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Re: Nuance PDF Reader - Acresso-FLEXnet agent is Annoyware/Adware WARNING.
« Reply #23 on: October 02, 2012, 04:03:16 AM »
Michael

Thanks v much for the Google Group link - I found many invaluable tips there esp by Joe Winograd


Joe is seriously knowledgeable about things PaperPort and Nuance PDF.

In all fairness, I should also have mentioned the recently revived Nuance Forums. But this self-support forum has fewer members than the PaperPort Google Group. And despite residing on the company's server, the Nuance forum has next to no obvious input from the technical people at Nuance.

One good bit about the Nuance forum is the ability to search the company's KnowledgeBase and the forum simultaneously.
MK