Microsoft Update Quietly Installs Firefox Extension

Um, well, I’m glad once again that I don’t run Windows. Microsoft has done it again. The Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 update silently installs a Firefox Extension. Yes, you read it right. Microsoft is now messing with software that they didn’t even write, if it’s installed on your computer.

And what’s even better, is it’s damned hard to remove.

Let’s listen to Brad Abrams of Microsoft:

A couple of years ago we heard clear feedback from folks that they wanted to enable a very clean experience with launching a ClickOnce app from FireFox. James Dobson published FFClickOnce and got very good reviews, but we had many customers that wanted ClickOnce support for Firefox built into the framework… so in .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 we added ClickOnce support for Firefox! This made ClickOnce apps much more accessible to a wide range of customers.

Why is this an issue? Annoyances.org says:

This update adds to Firefox one of the most dangerous vulnerabilities present in all versions of Internet Explorer: the ability for websites to easily and quietly install software on your PC. Since this design flaw is one of the reasons you may’ve originally choosen to abandon IE in favor of a safer browser like Firefox, you may wish to remove this extension with all due haste.

Hotdog you say! Now Firefox has one of Internet Exploder’s greatest disadvantages! And Microsoft doesn’t even bother to ask if you want it installed.

It gets better though. The Un-Install button in the Firefox Extension control window is greyed out. You can’t use it. To get rid of the damned thing, you have to edit the Windows registry. Now this is really not that hard. Yes, unlike Linux you will have to use the command line, but both Annoyances.org and Brad Abram’s blog post give detail instructions on how to do it. My guess is that it will take five minutes at most.

In that case, why did I write this post? Because it YOUR COMPUTER. And Microsoft doesn’t understand that.

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