BonziBuddy

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BonziBuddy
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BonziBUDDY running on the Windows XP operating system.
NameBonziBuddy
Developer(s)Bonzi Software, Inc.
Initial release1999
Latest version4.1
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
Websitehttp://www.bonzi.com (Defunct)
Discontinued?Yes

BonziBuddy, also capitalized as BonziBUDDY, was a desktop application that utilized Microsoft Agent technology. It was created by Joe and Jay Bonzi in 1999, released on bonzi.com and was available there until the site went defunct in 2008, which caused mirrors to start hosting the download. It would make jokes, tell facts, sing songs, talk, alongside other functions present in the application. BonziBuddy was discontinued in 2004 after the company that had created it had faced lawsuits regarding deceptive advertisements and a violation of COPPA. The first release of BonziBuddy was released in 1999 and used the Peedy character from Microsoft, but the creators swapped to their purple gorilla character called Bonzi in May 2000.

Media coverage

Throughout the mid-2000s, BonziBuddy had received a lot of media coverage. In April 2007, it was considered one of the most annoying technology products by PC World. BusinessWeek described the program as an "unbelievably annoying spyware trojan horse".

Online resurgence

BonziBuddy had been a meme for some time in the late 2000s and early 2010s. However, after the livestreamer Vinesauce Joel had covered it in a Windows destruction livestream where he livestreamed a destruction of the Windows XP operating system, BonziBuddy's popularity quickly rose. It kickstarted the use of BonziBuddy in memes until the meme died down in the mid-2010s. However, BonziBuddy was still popular and had been used for Microsoft Agent content created with the Microsoft Agent Scripting Helper. As of 2021, Bonzi is one of the most well-known Microsoft Agent characters.

Malicious activity

BonziBuddy has been identified as spyware and adware by multiple sources, although the company disputed those claims. Some examples of their malicious activity include using banner advertisements to imitate Windows message boxes and claiming their IP address is being broadcasted, constantly setting the browser homepage to bonzi.com without permission from the user, and tracking the personal information of users.

Discontinuation

BonziBuddy was discontinued in 2004 after multiple lawsuits and allegations were thrown at the company regarding the software. Bonzi Software, Inc. was also ordered to pay fines following these lawsuits. The bonzi.com website remained operational until the end of 2008. No new versions of BonziBuddy were released following the shutdown of bonzi.com.

Trivia

  • Despite its main website being defunct, many other mirror sites hosting the download for the original program such as bonzi.link.
  • Although BonziBuddy is considered malware, the original servers it used have shut down in the 2000s, making the program almost completely safe to use on real computers, though many people and anti-virus providers do not recommend it, as it is still detected by most anti-virus software.
  • BonziBuddy uses Microsoft Agent technology and used the Microsoft Speech API 4.0 package.
  • It had originally used the Peedy Microsoft Agent character before Bonzi Software, Inc created their own Microsoft Agent character.
  • BonziBuddy required Windows 95 or later to run on a computer and did not support Windows versions below Windows 95.
    • It also required that the computer it is being ran out have 16 MBs of RAM and 11 MBs of free disk space.
  • There was caution initially on whether or not it was safe to use BonziBuddy's ACS file elsewhere with other software such as MASH. However, it was later regarded as safe as ACS files cannot have malware built into them.