Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Viewpoint, in the form of viewmgr.exe and the Viewpoint Media Player, is the source of a lot of questions here on Ask Leo!. Most boil down to: Is it spyware?

No, it is not.

Then why are so many people concerned about it? Why is the next question most people ask "How do I get rid of it?"

Probably because they didn't ask for it, they don't know why it's on their machine, and their firewall is suddenly reporting that it's attempting to access the internet. All things that have come to be associated with...

you guessed it...

Spyware.

I recently received email from a marketing representative at Viewpoint pointing out that "Viewpoint has a clean bill of health from liutilities, hijackthis, Pestpatrol, Adaware, System Info, Computer Cops, Webroot Spysweeper, Microsoft Anti-Spyware Beta, and more...", and directing me to their FAQ.

The FAQ is very informative, and clears up many of the assumptions that people have been making, confirming some and stating others to be false. I encourage anyone with concerns to read it.

But from a consumer's perspective, the problem still remains. Let me address the points I made at the beginning.

They didn't ask for it. Viewpoint components are installed as a side effect of installing other software, most notably AOL and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). The software claims to be "required", but I have a hard time understanding why I need yet another media player in order to chat with friends on AIM. The fact that Viewpoint is installed at all, and more importantly, how visible this fact is, is in the hands of these other packages. Personally, I would expect that a) Viewpoint would be optional, and as such b) I would be given a clear choice at setup time for these other software packages. Sadly that is not always the case, and Viewpoint can simply "appear", seemingly without warning.

They don't know why it's on their machine. As I just pointed out, I have no clue as to why I would need another media player in order to chat with my friends on AIM. The same is true for many packages that include Viewpoint software. Some clearly need the technology to deliver their functionality. But for others, Viewpoint is used only when certain features are used. If you never use those features, or never even think about those features even existing, the presence of an unexpected package such as Viewpoint is at best, confusing, and at worst quite distressing.

Their firewall is suddenly reporting that it's attempting to access the internet. I understand why this happens, and from a technical perspective, it's a good thing. Viewpoint, or more specifically viewmgr.exe, is checking for updates of the Viewpoint software. Many software packages now do this automatically as a way to ensure that as many of their users have the latest and most stable releases. The problem here is the cascading effect of the previous two points: you didn't ask for it, you don't know what it is, and all of a sudden it wants to access the internet? Of course that's going to raise concerns, as well it should.

So what's the answer?

In my opinion:

  • Viewpoint, and the other companies that package Viewpoint software, need to do a much better job of educating users at install time about Viewpoint, what it is and why it's being installed.
  • Viewpoint should be clearly made an optional install in almost all cases.
  • Viewpoint should be easily uninstalled. (Their FAQ seems to indicate that it is, but user experiences as reflected in the comments on my viewmgr.exe article report varying degrees of success.)
  • Consumers need to pay attention to what we're installing. In many cases packages like Viewpoint are called out on software installs and often are optional, if you'd only take the time to look. I, for one, rarely accept "default" installs for exactly this reason ... without looking, I don't know what I'm getting.

Article C2326 - April 8, 2005 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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21 Comments
Paul
April 11, 2005 6:00 PM

I am guilty of in this instance while downloading AOL Instant messenger of allowing it to load to my computer without checking. I am an advanced user and should know better!! Great reminder and very helpful article. Its being toasted off my pc as I type this!

Paul
April 11, 2005 6:01 PM

I am guilty of in this instance while downloading AOL Instant messenger of allowing it to load to my computer without checking. I am an advanced user and should know better!! Great reminder and very helpful article. Its being toasted off my pc as I type this!

michael_tzez
April 11, 2005 8:07 PM

Administrator,

"They didn't ask for it."
The vmp is not some bundled program. The vmp is what makes some of the graphical features of aim and aol possible. If you call aol they will tell you that it is not recommended that you remove the vmp. The VMP is part of the Aol software suite. If you agree to install aol or aim then you agree to install viewpoint because viewpoint is part of that software suite. I can not believe a thread exist over this. In my eyes it is like we are talking about the flash player, quicktime, realplayer, etc... Same exact thing except that the VMP is better!

Aol:
"To create the SuperBuddies, AOL tapped professional computer animators at Glendale, Calif.'s Creative Capers Entertainment and New York-based Viewpoint, which also s providing the 3D technology powering the icons. AOL has been embedding Viewpoint's graphics engine in its software since America Online version 7.0, released in 2002."
http://www.internetnews.com/xSP/article.php/2228211

AIM:
"We're developing new Expressions that we're going to release that will incorporate ViewPoint technology," Mains said. "You're going to see us do some interesting things with ViewPoint technology, kind of like with 'Eight Legged Freaks,' that will allow people to even further personalize the AIM experience."
http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/1403501


"They don't know why it's on their machine."
Here I see your point. People are confused. Okay fine but do any of these people know what navapsvc.exe, or vsmon.exe is? I doubt it. So why is the thread not about that? For the record one is a norton process and the other a zone lab process. My point? Well, I think it is obvious. I could sit here all day and ask people if they know what specific file names are and label the ones that we do not know as spyware. The bottom line is that the vmp is on over 120 million computers and it is not a brand name only because of how seamless it runs. If flash didn't always ask you to update it do you think people would be familiar with it? Kind of Ironic that a more sophisticated program that updates itself is the one that receives the scarlet letter. lol - it really is crazy. Understandable only because of the mass amount of garbage-ware going around. Many users have been inconvenienced over recent years - me being one of them. Although, I have to really stress the fact that Viewpoint does not fall in this category.

"Their firewall is suddenly reporting that it's attempting to access the internet."

I am really glad to see that you appreciate the "auto update" feature as a good thing. They are one of the pioneers of auto update feature.

For those of you that are wondering what the heck viewpoint does please check out the link I provided below. This is possible because of viewpoint technology. Really play with it. It is from sony's site.

http://www.viewpoint.com/pub/demos/sony_style/

Best,
Michael

MikeK
April 12, 2005 5:28 PM

The thing is I DON'T WANT a program that updates itself apart from the windows updates. Why don't you give us the option upon install to turn off updates or update manually, or better yet not install it if we don't want it. At least let the person know that they are getting it for goodness sake, if it's using resources, they should know. I'm a very paranoid user when it comes to this and I still didn't notice it installed until just now. I have windows updates set to tell me when one is available and when it is ready to install. I like this control. If my computer or internet is a little slower during this time, I know why. The best way to allay people's fears about it being spyware is to make it not act like spyware. I have been using a really old version of AIM for a long time now, luckily I had saved it. I just couldn't stand the ads and all the movies that would just pop on my screen and even with sound!! If my speakers were turned up.... And now the expressions and new smileys and everything else just adds to the gloat. I mean what's the point of having a fast computer if it gets bogged down by lots of crap (believe me I've seen it). I'm not blaming viewpoint for that, but AIM. The point is, people like to control their computers themselves, especially because of all the spyware that is out there. Recently, my parents' computer, which I had built myself, became crippled with very nasty spyware. After a few days of fruitless work, google and newsgroup help etc. I had to do a clean install of XP! couldn't do a repair, due to particularly nasty spyware, and I'm very experienced with helping people with spyware. I even found one of my friends had bought a new computer because of their problems with spyware. With all the time I've put into that computer, you better believe I don't want that to happen again! If you still can't understand this then I suggest you start installing some "free" software to help you figure it out. Download.com is a good place.

MikeK

PS, make sure to also start clicking on those popup ads that look like windows messages.

michael_tzez
April 14, 2005 10:26 AM

Viewpoint only runs updates when your computer is idol. Never while it is in use.

As for the the internet and it's hindering spyware, adware, malware problem I could not agree more.

I have had many issues myself in regards to this. Even Billy G had problems with this. That was the initial incentive to creating microsoft anti spyware. So I read in an interview.

As for viewpoint - they are just a company that on this board has been caught in the line of fire and are being mislabled with the scarlet letter. It is or it isn't and Viewpoint isn't spyware, adware, etc...

If you really understood how this works and what it does you would not be wasting your time writing about it.

If anything this thread should be about aim not viewpoint. Viewpoint is a technology provider. It would be like me starting a thread here saying that macromedia is at fault and spyware for all the flash pop-ups I get. That is what this thread reads like. To be honest I question Leo's level of knowledge in regards to this tech. Leo don't you understand how irrational this thread is? Is this just way to create web traffic for all of your sponsored listing? I mean really? Are we all talking about the same comapany?

Bev P
April 15, 2005 11:15 AM

Due to the fact that viewpoint acts like spyware and I got a popup that said "you have just been updated" with no option to close the window without downloading something, I interrupted whatever it was doing and now my computer is acting all weird and won't check email. Probably has nothing to do with it now that I read this thread but I agree that Viewpoint needs to make users aware that it is there and updating itself. I've already deleted outcmd.dat and outlook still acts weird. I know its because I shut down the computer in the middle of the viewpoint "update" because I didn't know what viewpoint was, and what it was doing to my computer and I wasn't going to click on the license agreement link on the window to find out because I DIDN"T KNOW WHAT IT WAS, OR THAT IT WAS THERE. I've tried to click CANCEL on a popup before and installed nearly 100 spyware files in one click so I AM NOT CLICKING ANYTHING ON ANY POPUP FOR ANY SOFTWARE THAT I WAS NOT AWARE OF. Sorry if this offends anyone who thinks viewpoint is so great. Maybe it is great, but it acts like spyware.

michael_tzez
April 15, 2005 8:49 PM

Conclusion: A percentage of people are not aware of what viewpoint is and what they do. At the same time if no one knew what flash was they would do and say the same thing about flash. It is not a brand name YET. I guess this is the inevitable reality until the masses are well aware of what vet content is and who viewpoint is. Just a matter of time but understand that it takes time - it is not an easy thing to get the world to understand and know who you are. Especially in a time when spyware is the talk of many circles. Perfect example is the forum and a even more impressive example is that someone is making money because of this topic. lol - go figure :-) Seriously, everyone is so quick to label something spyware. All I hear all the time is - "if I don't know what it is I delete it" - it is typical and I 100% understand. The good thing is that you will be seeing a lot more of viewpoint content in the near future. Even currently Sony, Toyota, Honda, GM, HP, Dell, IBM, Intel, Samsung and many more all use it to deliver the graphical explosion that no one else can match. THATS A FACT! They will play a very big part in the internet's graphical future. It is simply the next step in internet evolution - An internet that is based on X-Internet(executable internet) applications that are sparkling with 3D and robust graphical user interaction.

Bev P, what troubles me is the fact that viewpoint is on a web page that is surrounded by sponsored listings that read "spyware removal". I know everyone has got to make a living but that is flat out false advertising.

Oh yeah, and viewpoint never pops up to tell you that the update is complete. It just does it. I wish flash, adobe, wmp, quicktime, realplayer, java compiler, norton definitions, zone alarm, etc.. all updated themselves too when my compuer was idol. Who wouldn't want that and why? Why would you want to be inconvenienced? Why would you not want to have newest version automatically. The internet is a living breathing thing that is constantly evolving. It is not static. It is dynamic and forever changing and becoming more advanced - all compilers or graphics rendering engines need to always be updated - they should all function this way.

Scenerio:
Suppose flash 6 plugin has a hole in it and now everyone's computer with flash 6 is threatened to be hacked or to get a virus? Then what? By the time everyone learns and runs and update the damage is done.

Viewpoint in the same scenerio - viewpoint would run the update overnight! No problem! Here is another stat - viewpoint plugin can render flash faster than the flash plugin. Why? Because Viewoint does not use windows GDI to communicate with the Graphics Hardware. It communicates directly with the Graphics Hardware on it's own.

Honestly I can write for hours about this stuff - but I will stop here.

All the best,
Michael Tzez

MisterGuy
April 16, 2005 6:23 PM

"Honestly I can write for hours about this stuff - but I will stop here."

Thank goodness -- your employers at Viewpoint should be pissed to find you spending all your time on message boards.

Bev's point was the true final word: "...I AM NOT CLICKING ANYTHING ON ANY POPUP FOR ANY SOFTWARE THAT I WAS NOT AWARE OF. Sorry if this offends anyone who thinks viewpoint is so great. Maybe it is great, but it acts like spyware."

Michael_Tzez
April 16, 2005 8:37 PM

First off I do not work for viewpoint and yes Leo if you are wondering it was me that notified them of your slanderous articles. Viewpoint has a clean bill of health as they told you. All the relevant antispyware and antivirus companies do not recognize Viewpoint as anything threatening - they do not recognize them period. Yet you still push on - This is when I realized that Leo is out here for one reason - 6 sponsored links per page.

Secondly I have been a gentlemen in every one of my posts. I expect the same respect back. Besides it makes you look like the fool to the readers not me.

What bev said:
"I've tried to click CANCEL on a popup before and installed nearly 100 spyware files in one click so I AM NOT CLICKING ANYTHING ON ANY POPUP FOR ANY SOFTWARE THAT I WAS NOT AWARE OF."

Bev is talking about a popup he/she ONCE got not a viewpoint pop-up. You mis-interpreted what he/she was saying.

Leo created this thread only and I do mean ONLY to generate pay per click traffic with false advertising tactics.

This Forum is nothing more than a Tabloid and Leo is doing most of the posting using multiple alias.

Leo email me I want to talk to you.

Leo
April 16, 2005 9:50 PM

I sign my own posts. I was quite clear in my article that Viewpoint is NOT spyware. Read the second paragraph.

John Scanlon
April 17, 2005 7:39 PM

Two things:

1) I have not installed ANY software recently, and ViewMgr.exe suddenly appeared on my machine. I do surf the web alot, so my conclusion is it installed itself.
2) Getting rid of it is easy: FIRST, go into task manager and kill the process. If you don't do this, any files viewmgr has open, as well as the program, will be immune from removal. Second, go into "Add/Remove programs and remove ViewMgr. Third, go to the directory (C:\ProgramFiles\ViewManager) and delete the directory. All gone.

By the way, I totally disagree with it not being spyware. ViewMgr and the View Media Player are two different things: if we did need a new media player for something, fine, give it to us legitimately, but ViewMgr itself isn't even the media player. They are separate programs and directories on your computer.

JS

michael_tzez
April 17, 2005 8:22 PM

John,
Norton antivirus and norton live update are in different directories too. Does that mean they are not the same program?

Viewpoint manager sees to it that the vmp is always up to date. Automatic update. You could turn that feature off if you wanted to. Go to control panel and you will see it there.

Bottom Line: In General - If you are the kind of person that wants nothing I mean absolutely nothing on your computer then do what you want but to label a Viewpoint product to be spyware is slander. Do you think you know more than the people at microsoft, computer associates, symantec, etc..? I mean seriously? Are you claiming that you know more about this topic then them? You realize how irrational that is? No offense but think before you type? It is not spyware. Not my opinion but a FACT.

Leo I want to discuss something with you - email me to get rid of me, ignore me and get use to me.

Paula B.
April 19, 2005 9:37 PM

Mr. Tzez, I think you are missing the point. The fact that we have not been made aware of the particular product which was installed on our computer and the fact that it will automatically update is what we do not find appropriate. If this is a "necessary" component to AOL and AIM, then we certainly understand its being installed without being specifically presented to us during the install process. However, we should be enlightened upon installation about automatic updates and given the option as to whether or not we approve. But we are suddenly confronted with an automatic update by a program about which we know nothing, not even as to what other program it may be associated. This is not a positive scenario under any circumstance.

The reason I am reading this thread is because ViewMgr just tried to access the internet on my computer. My computer was NOT idle, I was surfing the net. I did not recognize the program and denied access for this particular attempt. However, I wanted to educate myself as to the actions of the program, and that is how I was directed to this site.

Our frustration with ViewMgr has nothing to do with any other media player which may we may have. Only ViewMgr has tried to access the internet, at least on my computer. While I understand the convenience of automatic updates, I prefer to manually update my programs other than antivirus. But even if I wanted automatic updates, it is common sense and good business practice to educate your users as to to processes such as automatic updates.

I don't understand your ridiculing those of us who are not happy when we are suddenly confronted with unfamiliar automatic updates. Had this been spyware, would you have been so quick to reply? We are trying to stay educated and knowledgeable with our computers, a smart move in my book. Blind acceptance is just not an option for me, and I become irritated when I must stop what I am doing to research a program which should have been presented to me when it was installed.

If companies are truly interested in being consumer friendly and in updating products to better serve their customers, listening to the customers' complaints and trying to incorporate changes to address those problems would be wise. Ridiculing them for searching for answers and discussing their frustrations is not exactly a marketing homerun.

Brad Stribling
April 19, 2005 11:32 PM

Well, I just got my dose tonight.

Guess what -- I don't have AOL (I'm on MSN), I don't download music or have iTunes or anything like that. I use my computer only for business and scientific research.

Only thing I can think of -- I hate to say it -- but I just installed Microsoft Office 2003 (upgrade) and have been using Access 2003 and their help files and sites! Who knows...

So what do you call ViewManager and their unwanted media player? What do you call a flower that pops up unwanted when and where you don't want it -- and you have a hard time getting rid of it? A weed, at best. And whoever planted it is a miscreant. Even if the company has become profitable doing it.

Besides, what program 'really' needs to check for updates to it every day??? Not even an antivirus program needs to do that!! I've also found their cookie droppings lying around.

I'd equipped my system with an APC UPS a while back, along with their monitoring software. Damn thing accessed the internet EVERY DAY to 'check for critical updates'!! C'mon -- a POWER SUPPLY??? Give me a break!!!

Brad Stribling
April 19, 2005 11:34 PM

Well, I just got my dose tonight.

Guess what -- I don't have AOL (I'm on MSN), I don't download music or have iTunes or anything like that. I use my computer only for business and scientific research.

Only thing I can think of -- I hate to say it -- but I just installed Microsoft Office 2003 (upgrade) and have been using Access 2003 and their help files and sites! Who knows...

So what do you call ViewManager and their unwanted media player? What do you call a flower that pops up unwanted when and where you don't want it -- and you have a hard time getting rid of it? A weed, at best. And whoever planted it is a miscreant. Even if the company has become profitable doing it.

Besides, what program 'really' needs to check for updates to it every day??? Not even an antivirus program needs to do that!! I've also found their cookie droppings lying around.

I'd equipped my system with an APC UPS a while back, along with their monitoring software. Damn thing accessed the internet EVERY DAY to 'check for critical updates'!! C'mon -- a POWER SUPPLY??? Give me a break!!!

Michael_Tzez
April 20, 2005 1:24 PM

Paula,
Who did I ridicule?
The only thing that I made very Clear is that I believe LEO has created this thread strictly to generate advertising dollars. Which is the obvious truth - 5 sponsored listings per page. On this specific topic they all refer to spyware. I believe LEO is the one that is ridiculing and false advertising. Viewpoint is not recognized as spyware by any of the acknowledged anti virus and anti spyware company yet LEO insists on running indirect slander and false advertising. That gets under my skin. False advertising should not be tolerated by anyone.

Paula:
"Only viewpoint mgr has tried to access the internet"
lol - who are you kidding. I have over 80 apps on my computer that try to access the internet. If you buy a computer from the store and install a firewall on it - it will pick up at least 30 programs from the start. I have over 300 components accessing the internet - When we talk about viewpoint accessing the internet it is Viewpoint components are what accessing the internet. Are you trying to tell me that you know what all the components on your computer are? lol
Off hand I probably only recognize 20 of them.

Please do not take this as me ridiculing you. The problem is that you people have no idea what you are talking about. Please don't take offense but your statement reflects your knowledge.(I am not calling you stupid). Many of you think you know a lot more than you do. I don't know everything but I know enough to recognize that you think you know a lot more than you do.

The question you should all be asking - the only question that is important Is:
I came across this new component on my computer "Viewpoint Manager" is it threatening?

The answer is NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 100% safe! Non of the anti-virus/anti-spyware companies recognize Viewpoint components as threats. They don't recognize them period. It is actually on their safe lists. I could sit here and list 50 components that access the internet on your computer and you would have no idea that they were even there or what they were.

Like I said Leo is not here to answer your questions he is here to rhetorically make you want this off your computer (by posting under multiple alias). He wants the sheep to click on his sponsored listings. He is insulting peoples intelligence. That's right LEO you are a phony!

I will take you serious when you get rid of the sponsored listings. False Advetising!

Michael_Tzez
April 20, 2005 1:38 PM

Brad,
It comes pre-installed by the OEMs (many of the computer manufactures). They put it on their computers to make their clients internet experience as seamless as possible.

Adobe Acrobat also distributes and uses the vmp for its graphical presentations.

Also, windows office I believe does something similar - do not quote me on this one - I am not 100%

Leo
April 20, 2005 1:39 PM

My article is clear: viewpoint is not spyware.

The ads support the site. That's how free commerce works.

Google automatically targets the ads based on what it thinks the page is about, and the ad inventory it has that corresponds to that topic. I do not control what ads are specifically displayed.

When he's not deriding me personally, Mr. Tzez's comments regarding Viewpoint have value.

However, with that, I'm closing comments on this thread, as further discussion is clearly no longer adding value.

Ron
February 26, 2010 2:56 PM

You can darn well be sure I know what apps on my computer are accessing the internet. I make it a point to know.

Marnie Tuttle
November 7, 2010 8:30 PM

hi my name is marnie tuttle some how view point anti virus got on my computer it said i had a virus but i don't it instald i dont want it i deleyed it out of add and remove progams but now it keeps poping up i cant use my computer it let me do eny thing only if i buy it i dont want to so how do i get it off so i can use my computer again you may get back to me my e mail is {removed by commentator} or call me at {removed by commentator} thanks

Karl
January 16, 2011 10:27 AM

Viewpoint Manager is considered as foistware instead of malware since it is installed without users approval but doesn't spy or do anything "bad". This will change from what we know in 2006 read this article: http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3561546
I suggest you remove the program now. Go to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs and remove the following programs if present.

•Viewpoint
•Viewpoint Manager
•Viewpoint Media Player

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