I’m not sure anybody has ever installed the Ask Toolbar on purpose. But plenty of people have probably installed the browser add-on accidentally, since the installer is bundled with the installer for Java.

Don’t want a toolbar that changes your default search provider, takes up screen space, and can be terribly difficult to uninstall? Neither does Microsoft: the company has marked the Ask Toolbar as malware.

Update: It turns out Microsoft only considers older versions of the Ask Toolbar to be malware. The company has updated its website to reflect that the latest version of the toolbar is OK.

ask toolbar

That means Windows security software will automatically detect and remove the toolbar if it’s found on your computer. All you need is Windows Security Essentials and the latest anti-malware definitions for Windows 7 or Windows Defender for Windows 8 or later.

The move comes a few weeks after Microsoft announced plans to protect users from software with “browser search protection functionality,” which is another way of saying apps or tools that hijack the search features of your web browser or other apps.

We may see other apps of this type marked as malware in the future, but Ask Toolbar has long been one of the most egregious (and ubiquitous) examples.

via PC World and Slashdot



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17 replies on “Microsoft now considers the Ask Toolbar to be malware”

  1. That goes for all IAC properties and any software that loads additional software (Conduit, Wild Tangent etc) or that does a function and requires a fee (Macafee et al) to complete. These are the digital equivalent of “squeegee guys” and are just one tiny step up from panhandlers.

  2. Best news I’ve heard today. Screw Oracle and Java, which asks me to update almost every week, and every time it tries to sneak in this Ask Toolbar malware on my machine.

    Great for Microsoft for giving Oracle the middle finger and actually protecting users.

  3. Welcome to the club, Microsoft. Everyone else I know has considered it that all along.

    1. Who is everyone else? None of the major Endpoint Protection software has marked Ask toolbar as malware.

  4. Fully agree, there is probably nothing more frequently annoying than Ask! I was thrilled to see yesterday that when I updated Java on a computer I was repairing that instead of Ask there was Yahoo instead, at least you can get some decent search results with Yahoo and it isn’t nearly as invasive. Small steps but I guess they have to support it somehow.

  5. I’m okay with this. It typically gets installed when you’re not careful enough to opt out of all the additional packages when you’re installing, or even just updating something else, like Java.

    Tech savvy people don’t often get caught out, but it’s a real pain for others, like my elderly parents who get caught out from time to time, and this is what these people are banking on. Time they felt the heat.

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