I am not fond of RealPlayer I think it is a poorly preforming
application but the PCWorld article is opinion and the wikipedia
article paraphrases it. Earlier versions of RealPlayer had some
privacy issues according to some peoples definition of privacy (mine
included) because it was tracking what media you played and sending
that data back to Real where they were but these issues were
supposed to be resolved in later releases of the software. The main
culprit was RealJukebox not RealPlayer.
It is also faulted for trying to become the default media player on
your system and getting too deep into the OS. This is as much
Microsoft’s fault for structuring their OS to allow such behavior as
Real Networks fault for exploiting it.
And, according to my husband (he's a software engineer), there are
also sporadic reports that various versions would install (without
adequate disclosure) known issues like CometCursor, Gator and
This appears to be a rumor. It is reported on some web forums by
posters but I could not find credible reports of this. It has been
bundled with other objectionable software occasionally but I doubt
RealPlayer actually installs them, more likely the malware / spyware
distributor uses RealPlayer as a lure to get people to install the
bundle but does this without Real Networks knowledge or permission.
RealPlayer by itself is not wonderful but is no worse than most PC
Of course all the above is my opinion