There are numerous freeware articles that I use as a staple in maintenance and administration that have grown considerably and thus rely upon the possible revenue that the incorporation of the "tool-bar" options might generate; I don't see the offerings being so smothering if they are reputable like Google, Yahoo and Bing but, the shady home page hijacking of some third party sites leave a bad after taste. One thing to most certainly pay close attention to is the "opt ins" as I truly believe these offerings a sure signe indicator as to the level and type of developer/development team that you are entrusting your productivity, work and security.
The devil is in the details and one must be ready to read between the lines in order to see what is really going on.
At any rate, opt-ins are the more casual approach to marketing "plug-ins" and other commercial vendor products offending far fewer in the long run and with a more relaxed, low pressure atmosphere. You will attract more bees with honey and more flies with dog duty. A good philos is cut the crap and share the sugar -- keeps everybody happy and all else said, the software developers could always post commercial ad spots on their sites and offer opt-in mailing lists for "commercial third party partner offers." It is just good marketing sense and to be honest it seems as though the digital marketing arena has fallen straight onto its head -- repeatedly. The present stage of marketing is plagued with ill-equipped and inexperienced developer groups whom know programming but could not see their elbow from their butt holes when it comes to marketing; sadly marketing really is not that hard to wrap your head around if you have access to good literature.
Opt-ins over opt-outs all the way especially the "home page switchers" -- annoying little creatures.
What's up with the recent rash of multiple opt-out bars and home page switching installation options with some apps; I use an app as standard that recently employed an entire installer wizard dialog to the "opt-outs" that include not one but, two bars and a home page switch. If the dev team that made that app wasn't notorious for honesty I would flame the butts so fast...
Its enough to establish a good reputation that certain groups can get away with this kind of junk but, there are those of whom might not know of the projects level of trust and drop them like a hot rock. This is a vicious circle and an old one that has been spoken of in commercial circa for a long time -- big no-no. The third party groups will be watching how you present their articles too looking for signs that they are being subject to or made party to behavior and patterns that leave the intended audience in question. In motor sports racing this is when the black flags come out.
Jim H. made an excellent point about user un-awareness which will result in the end user getting upset while having to go through the process of resetting things like home pages and disabling unwanted tool bars repeatedly. Intuitive programming and marketing is limit the exposure of things that will bring defamatory conduct back upon you in your market. The average user will make a mistake and you will get the blame, if you set things up where a user makes a mistake you are a saboteur. Gotta watch that crap.
I hope that I have bored everyone to tears and wish everyone, all the same, a happy and productive new year.