web browsers are much more closed these days, I'm not even sure you can change your new tab page on firefox now
>I remember having to be vigilant with every download back in the day not to install some crappy third party software alongside whatever I was currently installing,
it's very unlikely to happen now, the kind of people who get owned by these tricks have a special windows edition for idiots in which you can't install software on your own
Every now and then when I download some freeware thing I notice those annoying "optional download" things, but typically they're in slightly older things. Most of the time they seem to be for installing anti-virus software or whatever.
I think they're probably gone, because the winds of change have come and passed us by. There's not much money advertising on desktop, especially with the ease of installing adblockers. Nowadays, everything seems to be targeted towards mobile devices with unskippable pop-up ads.
App stores with terms of service happened for the masses, package signing happened for the tech-savvy, and software vendors found more subtle ways to monetize their downloads, like silent telemetry built into the application itself. I think browsers also standardized their extension systems and removed most other ways for third party software to modify the browser.
On the one habd it's nice that it makes these annoying software less prevalent. On the other I really liked being able to customize my browser.
Part of the reason people oppose JS was because you could do things such as rob people's text from their clipboard and transmit it to a server or serve phishing sites easily.
There was also no standardization of where to download things and injecting malicious software into well meaning applications was common.
Things have gotten less free, but more safe and easy to use. Depending on your perspective you might think that one way is better than the other, but the safe internet is more productive than having to look over your shoulder every other day.
It's easy to forget now, but there used to be a time when just visiting the wrong site could fuck up your computer.
Kinda don't miss this and kinda do. On one hand I don't have to be that vigilant while browsing the web, on the other normos are also emboldened to go wherever because they don't feel any risk and shit up places.