“Microsoft Update Quietly Installs Firefox Extension”

Brian Krebs:

Big deal, you say? I can just uninstall the add-on via Firefox’s handy Add-ons interface, right? Not so fast. The trouble is, Microsoft has disabled the “uninstall” button on the extension. What’s more, Microsoft tells us that the only way to get rid of this thing is to modify the Windows registry, an exercise that — if done imprecisely — can cause Windows systems to fail to boot up.

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29 Responses to “Microsoft Update Quietly Installs Firefox Extension”

  1. strider_mt2k says:

    My first thought would be to back up my bookmarks and uninstall/reinstall Firefox.

    -but then again I shouldn’t HAVE TO!!!

    I don’t see it on my Mini 9 running Win7 RC1, but I could swear I just saw that plugin on another machine of mine I just set up.

    All of my computers at home are running RC1 at this point (otherwise really well) in something I’m calling “The Grand Experiment”.

    Ain’t THIS grand? :|

  2. dculberson says:

    WTF. Laws? This is the Internet, son.

    Right, because nobody’s ever been charged with a crime for something they did on the Internet!

  3. Jeff Siegel says:

    I’m not a computer whiz….so what’s the prob with Microsoft Firefox? Is there any reason I wouldn’t want it on my system?

  4. Michiel says:

    Microsoft is still around? I haven’t been paying attention, but I assumed they must have died by now..

  5. Blue says:

    Modifying someone’s computer without permission is a crime in the UK and many other countries.

    Deliberately disbaling the uninstall button is a clear bad-faith act on behalf of microsoft, that should prevent them from claiming ‘helpfulness’.

    That Mozilla allows software to do this to Firefox without user interaction is a security fail.

  6. Raian says:

    And this will be how Firefox pays for the next few year of their operations (after the lawsuit is over)… or at the very least, a couple people will be losing their jobs.

  7. guy says:

    With Microsoft, it’s difficult to distinguish malice from incompetence.

  8. Anonymous says:

    “..the only way to get rid of this thing is to modify the Windows registry, an exercise that — if done imprecisely — can cause Windows systems to fail to boot up.”

    Wow. Sensationalism at its best. This is old news anyways. It was discovered months ago. The fix is pretty easy as long as you follow the instructions.

    But I have to agree that this was pretty sneaky/evil of Microsoft to do this. For one thing, they should ask to install the extension. If they’re not going to ask, then they should make it easy to remove it, rather than make people manually edit the registry and Firefox prefs.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Deliberately disbaling the uninstall button is a clear bad-faith act on behalf of microsoft

    They didn’t. Their installation takes place at a privileged enough level that makes it look to Firefox like it would be dangerous to uninstall it.

    I don’t mean to excuse their behavior — I have went to some effort to avoid using Microsoft’s products for many years now — but this particular act doesn’t quite rise to the level of bad-faith. (Though that was a wholly reasonable assumption to make.)

  10. AirPillo says:

    My first thought is that there are several places in the world where this has got to be completely and unquestionably illegal.

  11. ilan says:

    i did check my own FireFox & How & behold, Java also installed an addon with the uninstall grayed out.

  12. mdh says:

    Hi, I’m a mac.

    Flee your Sith Masters while there is still time.

    Darth Hodgeman will lead you to your doom.

  13. Zan says:

    FUD much? The uninstall button wasn’t intentionally removed as a sign of bad faith. Microsoft installed the add-on in the global extensions directory, not the profile specific one (so that multiple copies wouldn’t be needed on a multi-user machine). It is Firefox which chooses to disable the uninstall button on global add-ons. Besides, when is the last time that you heard of someone making their computer unbootable while following specific instructions on editing one registry key?

    In any case, this is OLD news. The original update was released in February, and Microsoft already released an update that moves the extension to the individual profile folders so that it can be easily uninstalled.

  14. sworm says:

    lol.

    i don’t miss windows.

  15. MrNeutron says:

    Yes, I was going to see, I see a nice big uninstall button sitting next to the plugin on my Firefox.

  16. alex says:

    as if anyone really needed another reason to go completely open-source on their computer….

  17. zuzu says:

    My first thought is that there are several places in the world where this has got to be completely and unquestionably illegal.

    WTF. Laws? This is the Internet, son.

    Book: Shouldn’t we report this?
    Captain Tightpants: To who? Alliance? Right. They’re gonna run right out here lickety-split, make sure these taxpayers are okay.

    Besides those some laws you speak of have been perverted by spyware authors to inhibit anti-spyware software from removing them. …which is why the best anti-spyware for Windows, Kaspersky, is downloadable from the jurisdiction of Russia.

  18. Rob says:

    @all the people complaining about this. If you’re so bothered about Microsft messing with Firefox or anything else don’t use Windows.

  19. strider_mt2k says:

    I just found it on one of my Win7 machines and it uninstalled without a hitch.

    -Latest Firefox
    -Win7 RC1

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say it might be my version of Windows, but maybe it’s just a bug or glitch?

  20. SeppTB says:

    Strider, As #7 Zan mentioned, this was an old issue and has since been fixed by Microsoft: http://blogs.msdn.com/brada/archive/2009/02/27/uninstalling-the-clickonce-support-for-firefox.aspx

    I’m not sure if the fix came before or after Brian Krebs article though. Personally, I never even noticed this, I must have not installed that update, hmm.

  21. strider_mt2k says:

    Oh man it was right there too.

    Sorry!

  22. obo says:

    This Krebs guy just identified himself as someone who waits four months to install security-patching service packs.

  23. ben says:

    nicely done, bbg. in the meantime how come theres no link to boingboing on the front page anymore?

  24. icky2000 says:

    No actual story here. Move along.

  25. Ville says:

    …or uninstall the .NET framework.

  26. dculberson says:

    Interestingly there’s a Microsoft .net framework add-on in my Firefox that I did not install and the uninstall button is grayed out.

  27. O_M says:

    …What happened to the “Report Posts” feature on BBG?

  28. haineux says:

    What does the plugin DO, exactly? Is it something that might be useful some non-zero percent of the time?

    I’m not a Windows Guy, so I don’t immediately know what this is all about.

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