Did Microsoft make the right move by labeling some versions of the Ask Toolbar as malware?

Last week Microsoft’s malware protection efforts made headlines across the Internet because they decided to add the Ask Toolbar to its list of blocked software on Windows systems.

This news was met with widespread praise as the Ask Toolbar, which accompanies Oracle’s Java installation and other downloadable software, can wreak havoc with your web browsers default search choices, block your ability to change to your own preferred search provider and at times keep you from completely uninstalling it.

The companies that bundle toolbars with their software downloads are always looking for ways to get installs because that is how they get paid. In fact, last October Oracle made a subtle change to the default Ask Toolbar installation screen to make it more difficult for users to understand how to prevent it from installing with the software it comes bundled with.

After all of the headlines last week, Microsoft has since clarified that they are not blocking all versions of the Ask Toolbar but only those that contain search protect code. That is the part of the toolbar that aggressively tries to keep you from changing to your search engine instead of Ask.com.

While this is not a complete block of the bandwidth and system resource consuming toolbar it is a great way to at least get Ask playing fair with the options that allow users to make a change if this ends up on their systems.

What do you think?

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