Earlier this year Lenovo got in hot water for shipping computers with pre-installed software called Superfish that was designed to replace the ads in websites with, well, other ads. The problem is that it does this by hijacking your internet connection in a way that could pose a security risk and expose your data when you think you’re using a secure connection to visit websites for your bank, email, or social media accounts.
Lenovo stopped using Superfish and offered tools for removing it from affected PCs. But now Microsoft is taking steps to make sure Windows users don’t encounter Superfish-style adware in the future.
Starting March 31st, 2016 Microsoft will require that any software designed to inject ads into a web browser using Superfish-style “man in the middle” methods can only use the web browser’s own tools for installation and execution.
In other words, you should always see a pop-up letting you know that you’re installing a browser add-on. And if you later decide you don’t want to use that add-on, you should be able to use the browser’s built-in tools to remove the extension or plugin.
Adware that fails to meet that criteria will be detected by Windows and removed from your computer automatically. That should affect both add-ons that you accidentally download from the internet and software like Superfish that comes pre-loaded on your computer — both of which currently have a habit of installing themselves in such a way that they can be very difficult to remove.