It turns out Microsoft doesn’t really think the Ask Toolbar is malware.

The company updated its anti-malware tools recently and flagged the software that comes bundled with the Java installer for Windows computers as high-risk software which should be automatically detected and removed. But it turns out Microsoft was only talking about an older version of the toolbar… not the most recent version.

So unlike a large number of readers who spoke up in the comments of our last article on the topic, it turns out Microsoft doesn’t actually think the Ask Toolbar is malware.


That said… it is certainly annoying. The Ask Toolbar changes your default search provider, adds an annoying toolbar to the top of your web browser, and can be tricky to uninstall.

I’m not sure anyone in history has ever installed the toolbar on purpose. Instead, they probably just didn’t notice the option to uninstall it when loading Java on their computer.

So what’s the difference between the new version, which Microsoft is cool with, and the old version, which Microsoft will automatically remove from your PC if you’re using Windows Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials? According to Microsoft, “older versions of the software can restrict or limit your control over your search provider. It can prevent you from disabling or modifying your search provider.”

I guess the newer version of the app doesn’t do that… but I don’t feel like installing it to find out. Anyone want to take one for the team?

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16 replies on “Update: Microsoft isn’t treating the Ask Toolbar as malware (unlike you)”

  1. Next-next-finish install is outdated since the rise of internet. Compared to package managers it’s a nightmare. MS should have made it obsolete long long ago.

  2. Micro$oft seems to intentionally due whatever they can to make people hate them. What drives them to be like this? Certainly the people who own the Ask Toolbar can’t be paying Micro$oft enough to justify giving giving their malware a pass in Windows. Or can they? Is Micro$oft really that greedy?

    1. You think Oracle is paying MS lol. Go do some research and educate yourself kid.

  3. If you have to trick people into installing your product, then (crazy thought here) maybe your product isn’t worth installing…

  4. its the worst malware out thier right now. It hijacks your browser, search bar, and it gets installed on your computer like nothing.

    1. Really? Worse the malware that steals ur login or encrypt ur drives hold it ransom.

      1. i have to say yes, because who gets ransomware now days… I’ve never gotten it and I know a lot of people that haven’t either.

        As for ASKware it installs all the time, its everywhere, and if you got someone that does not know what it is they will install it and just keep it on their computer. I am in IT and I see ASK crap on every computer I clean up.

        1. Let’s stop with the exaggerations, of course people still get ransomware… just because you don’t encounter it means nothing because you represent less than a fraction of all users!

          Just look up new malware list for each year and you’ll see they’re still making them!

          Some threats are just more common and there are people who even manage to avoid all threats and never get malware but when talking about everybody then don’t make such assumptions based on just your personal experience!

          You’re just more likely to run into ransomware for a mobile device now that they are getting pushed as payment devices…

          Besides, complaints aside this is really just bloatware/adware… unlike actual malware you can easily uninstall it, it can be tricky for some but as long as you know how it can be quick, and it doesn’t try to alter your system in nefarious ways… It’s just really annoying but that doesn’t make it malware…

          There’s plenty such annoying add ons you have to watch out for during a install… Like shareware often includes something, Adobe often tries to install McAfee AV, etc… Just like unwanted advertisements and other bloatware they’re annoying but let’s be serious about the difference from a annoying piece of software we don’t want from actual malware…

          When so many users get tricked into installing actual malware, there are worse things to worry about… Really, as technology progresses just about everything will become open to malware attacks and people in general really have to get wise to the fact they better be more aware of what is running on their devices, period!

          1. I would consider anything unwanted that alters things totally unrelated to what you were installing to be malware.
            This is malware. Just because it isn’t a keylogger doesn’t mean it isn’t malware.

          2. Not true, it’s adware… welcome to the 21st century! Instead of just junk mail and unsolicited subscriptions we get the modern internet versions…

            Difference being Malware does something specifically malicious and has the option to do so with or without your permission… But Adware is just plain annoying and bothersome but you usually have a choice even if you need to always read the fine print and need a proverbial crowbar to kick it out…

            You might as well call Google malware if you consider Adware malware because they (Google) do many of the same things as Adware, it’s a major part of their business Ad revenue model frankly, and they actually do spy on you!

          3. You op in to install it. It takes 1 second to unchecked the box so it doesn’t get install. And you can’t make your own definition for an industry define term. It’s like call a SUV a Van because you feel like it. You can call it a van but ppl are just going to look at you like you are retarded.

  5. You are ASKing one of us to take one for the team? I say we let a Microsoft staff member do it.

    1. I like that. If the Security Essentials team thinks it has a purpose, let’s see them try using it for a week. is the common cold of malware. It’s not going to cause any lasting damage… But you have to be extra careful not to catch it, and it will make everything tougher until you’re able to get rid of it.

  6. Oh balls! I feel like I’ve been tricked, although perhaps not in the same way Ask Toolbar tricks me into installing it.

  7. Perhaps the new version doesn’t do the “and keep” portion of the installer? All the same, too bad, they completely deserved it.

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