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BonziBuddy
Bonzi Buddy.png
BonziBuddy promotional image
Developer(s) Bonzi Software, Inc.
Initial release 1999
Last release
4.1.2 / 2004 (2004)
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Type Adware, spyware, malware
License Freeware

BonziBuddy, stylized as BonziBUDDY, (pronounced bon-zee-bud-ee) was a freeware desktop virtual assistant made by Joe and Jay Bonzi. Upon a user's choice, it would share jokes and facts, manage downloads, sing songs, and talk, among other functions. Some versions of the software were described as spyware and adware.

The software used Microsoft Agent technology similar to Office Assistant, and originally sported Peedy, a green parrot and one of the characters available with Microsoft Agent. Later versions of BonziBuddy in May 2000 featured its own character: Bonzi, the purple gorilla. The program also used a text-to-speech voice to interact with the user. The voice was called Sydney and taken from an old Lernout & Hauspie Microsoft Speech API 4.0 package. It is often referred to in some software as Adult Male #2.

BonziBuddy was discontinued in 2004 after the company behind it faced lawsuits regarding the software and was ordered to pay fines. Bonzi's website remained open after the discontinuation of BonziBuddy, but was shut down at the end of 2008.

Criticism

In April 2007, PC World readers voted BonziBuddy the sixth on a list named "The 20 Most Annoying Tech Products". One reader was quoted as criticizing the program because it "kept popping up and obscuring things you needed to see".

One of the last newspaper articles written about BonziBuddy while it was still in distribution described it as spyware and a "scourge of the Internet". Another article found in 2006 on the BusinessWeek website described BonziBuddy as "the unbelievably annoying spyware trojan horse".

Spyware

A number of sources identify BonziBuddy as spyware, a claim the company disputed. In 2002, an article in Consumer Reports Web Watch labelled BonziBuddy as spyware, stating that it contains a backdoor trojan that collects information from users. The activities the program is said to engage in include constantly resetting the user's web browser homepage to bonzi.com without the user's permission, prompting and tracking various information about the user, and serving advertisements.

Trend Micro and Symantec have both classified the software as adware. Spyware Guide's entry on the program also states that it is adware.

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