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BonziBuddy promotional logo previously at Bonzi.com
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows|
BonziBuddy (officially distributed as BonziBUDDY) was an on-screen "intelligent" software agent from Bonzi Software, released in 1999 and discontinued in 2004. The official website stated that the software would help a user surf the Internet by using Microsoft Agent technology. In 1999, the software used a green parrot called Peedy licensed from Microsoft, and in later versions, Bonzi Software made their own fictional character, a purple gorilla. The on-screen agent would tell jokes, facts, manage downloading using his download manager, sing songs and other functions. The user would command the character by right clicking on the character's stomach on which a menu would appear.
BonziBuddy was predominantly a piece of adware, though claims of spyware capabilities have been made against it. Bonzi's homepage remained open after the discontinuation of BonziBuddy and the website disappeared at the end of 2008.
The software used Microsoft Agent technology similar to Office Assistant, and originally sported Peedy, a green parrot character before becoming the purple gorilla. The software "interacts with users while they are online, providing shopping advice, jokes, and trivia." Bonzi used the voice called Sidney from the Lernout and Hauspie TTS Package for Microsoft Speech API 4.0.
The official website for the application quoted the program as:
He will explore the Internet with you as your very own friend and sidekick! He can talk, walk, joke, browse, search, e-mail, and download like no other friend you've ever had! He even has the ability to compare prices on the products you love and help you save money! Best of all, he's FREE! 
The initial program was free, however, many functions required the purchase of add-ons.
Users would download a small file from www.bonzi.com named: bbsetup.exe. Once the file was downloaded, the installer would download files directly to the hard drive and install the Microsoft Agent program. During the installation, a diagram would appear saying: "BonziBUDDY is coming to life" and as the installation got nearer it's completion, the image of the BonziBUDDY logo without the text as shown would add a bit of color. After the installation, the program would launch and Bonzi would say the following: "Well, Hello there! I don't believe we have properly been introduced." "I'm Bonzi! What is your name!?" (User enters their salutation) "Nice to meet you, (User!)" "Since this is the first time we have met, I would like to tell you a bit about myself." "i am your friend and BonziBUDDY! I have the ability to learn from you. The more we browse, search, and travel together, the smarter I'll become!" (Does an animation) "Not that I'm already smart!"
Bonzi then asks the user if they would like to set their homepage to www.bonzi.com, but if not he will then say: "Now, let's give it a wirl! Go ahead a click on me with your right mouse button!:"
A menu would appear with different things that Bonzi can do. While it was active, the program would give out random advertisements and install other software without the user knowing it had installed the program.
Below is a summary of the releases of BonziBuddy and how they have changed. During 2005, BonziBuddy was no longer available.
|BonziBuddy||1.0.0||First version originally with Microsoft's green parrot, Peedy.||1999|
|BonziBuddy||184.108.40.206||Updated menu, added hotkey for quiet mode.||2000|
|BonziBuddy||220.127.116.11||Last Peedy update. When 3.5 update was available, Peedy would ask if the user would like to meet a new friend called Bonzi.||2000|
|BonziBuddy||3.5.0||A purple gorilla named Bonzi. New BonziWorld Menu. Bonzi's entrance from surf board. New sound effects and animations. New jungle-like interface added.||2000|
|BonziBuddy||3.7.1||New functions such as "Save You Money!" or "Check For Virus Alerts". Depending on next versions it might reset the homepage to www.bonzi.com and install other adware/spyware supported products.||2001|
|BonziBuddy||18.104.22.168||Mainly Bug Fixes?||2004|
|BonziBuddy||4.1.9||Removal of the BonziWorld menu and went back to the menu since 2.0. Bonzi's entrance swings from vine.||2004|
|BonziBuddy||4.1.12||Mainly Bug Fixes. Last Known version before Bonzi Software went out of business.||2004|
In April 2007, PCWorld readers voted Bonzi Buddy 6th on a list of "the top 10 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 newspapers to write 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".
Adware or spyware
A number of sources identify BonziBuddy as spyware, a claim the company disputes. In 2002 an article in Consumer Reports Web Watch labelled BonziBuddy as spyware, stating that it contains a Backdoor Santa in that it collects information from users. Among 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.
The Spyware Removal Database at Safer Networking (makers of Spybot – Search & Destroy) states "BonziBuddy is an Internet Explorer toolbar that may change your web browser settings, change your home page, and launch pop-up advertisements while tracking your web browsing habits."
Spyware Guide's entry on the program states that it is adware.
There were two legal cases about the software.
- Internetnews.com reported the settlement of a class action suit on May 27, 2003. Originally brought against Bonzi Software on December 4, 2002, the suit accused Bonzi of using its banner advertisements to deceptively imitate Windows computer alerts, alerting the user that their IP address is being broadcast. In the settlement, Bonzi agreed to modify their ads so that they looked less like Windows dialog boxes and more like advertisements.
- On February 18, 2004, the Federal Trade Commission released a statement indicating that Bonzi Software, Inc. was ordered to pay $75,000 in fees, among other aspects, for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 with BonziBuddy.
- Geschwind, Bill (2004-08-11). "AppNote: Automating the installation and execution of Spybot Search & Destroy with ZENworks". Novell Cool Solutions. Novell. Retrieved 2007-07-14. "Hotbar, Bonzi Buddy, Gator eWallet and Comet Cursors ... are all spyware-laden programs that I have encountered far too often in the field on my users' machine"
- Mark Hachman (2003-05-28). ""Bonzi Buddy" Creator Settles Suit". ExtremeTech. Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- "Counter Spy's entry on BonziBuddy". Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- "UMG Recordings, Inc. to Pay $400,000, Bonzi Software, Inc. To Pay $75,000 to Settle COPPA Civil Penalty Charges". Federal Trade Commission. 2004-02-18. Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- Bonzi.com. Retrieved bonzi.com July 10, 2005.
- "Your top 10 most annoying tech products". PCWorld. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
- Kladko, Brian (2004-03-21). "Prying Eyes Lurk Inside Your PC; Spyware Spawns Efforts at Control.". The Gale Group, Inc. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
- "Breaking: MySpace Backlash Sighted In Mainstream Media!". Businessweek. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
- Vincentas (16 July 2013). "BonziBuddy in SpyWareLoop.com". Spyware Loop. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
- Robertson Barrett (2002-11-21). "Five Major Categories of Spyware". Consumer Reports. Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- "Spyware Guide's entry on BonziBuddy". Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- "ADW_BONZIBUDDY.C". Threat Encyclopedia. Trend Micro. 2004-06-08. Retrieved 2007-07-14.
- "Adware.Bonzi". 2007-02-13. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
- Brian Morrissey (2003-05-27). "Bonzi Settles Deceptive Ad Suit". internetnews.com. Retrieved 2003-06-06.archive.org link
- Brian Morrissey (2002-12-04). "Bonzi Hit With Deceptive-Ad Complaint". internetnews.com. Retrieved 2003-06-18. archive.org link