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Mozilla Flips Kill-Switch On Skype Toolbar

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the take-a-time-out-until-you-can-play-nice-with-the-other-kids dept.

Firefox 284

An anonymous reader writes "Whenever Skype is installed or updated, it automatically installs the Skype Toolbar add-on for Firefox. Unfortunately, the add-on causes serious performance problems, slowing down some operations by a factor of 300 and is one of the top causes for Firefox crashes. As a result, Mozilla has decided to 'soft-block' the add-on, effectively killing it on all Firefox installs unless the user intentionally re-enables it. Given the extreme popularity of Skype, this has ramifications for millions of users."

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do it mozilla. (5, Insightful)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958858)

the skype toolbar is junk anyway.

wait, let me fix it for myself

toolbars are junk anyway.

Re:do it mozilla. (0)

airrage (514164) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959158)

hadn't posted since "...by airrage on Friday July 28 2006, @11:52AM." so just thought I would log back in and say hello. I shall now go back to my experiments. Good day to you sir!!

Re:do it mozilla. (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959392)

Wow... that's a long time to lurk.

Re:do it mozilla. (3, Interesting)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959206)

What puzzles me is companies (that are for-profit) blindly alienating customers by installing crap behind the scenes. I know that the average Joe probably notices nothing and will be hard pressed to link the firefox slowdown with the Skype install. On the other hand, skype users are not complete n00bs, so they are a population that probably has a good chance of finding out where the crap came from.

All in all, this kind of "strategy" puzzles me. What is the toolbar for anyways?

Re:do it mozilla. (2)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959786)

skype users are not complete n00bs

Really, my roommate loves skype, She cant figure out how to work it worth a damn. Id like to throttle the person who told her about it, because Ive become customer support.

Re:do it mozilla. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959844)

All in all, this kind of "strategy" puzzles me. What is the toolbar for anyways?

Highlights phone numbers online, then adds a button so you can make a skype call to that number.

Re:do it mozilla. (5, Funny)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959290)

You're wrong -- toolbars are awesome [penguinpetes.com] ...

Re:do it mozilla. (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959812)

OMG. I suppose you have to give IE credit for even being able to load all that.

Re:do it mozilla. (2)

cboslin (1532787) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959558)

Skype is wonderful as a VoIP phone, 3-way video calling tool, but a toolbar from them, no way in you know where.

You are sooo right, tool bars are crap (junk as you put it). Why companies waste their time putting yet another attack vector into their products and on our PCs, laptops, netbooks and smart phones (no root access ~ dumb device...it just ain't smart) is beyond me. A good reason not to purchase their products/services.

Even more unforgivable is auto update, auto upgrade or doing anything with my purchased hardware without my explicit permission, period. Even opensource companies are now making this fatal mistake. Fortunately I can switch to other Linux distros that are not stupidly attempting to control this part of my IT/Internet life. The last thing we need is having a tool bar forced upon us during an upgrade!

Toolbars, Flash, Actionscript, .NET, that put additional scripting into our browsers without allowing us some form of control is just slowing down our surfing and opening up our life to crackers and should be avoided. Bandwidth is at a premium for most of us, they need to stop wasting what little we have. (There is not bandwidth scarcity, this is a myth created by cable/telcos in order to increase our monthly payments)

Lets face it until our Internet providers STOP throttling our upstream bandwidth any excessive additional scripting, javascript, actionscript, crapscript, etc.. only serves to slow down our web surfing. It was bad enough to see "Loading..." that use to be reserved for inferior Flash sites and Yahoo eamil, now we see that crap on Gmail accounts too ... ugh.

It would not be a problem if my cable upstream bandwidth which is suppose to be "up to 2Mb" were not throttled to below 10Kb the majority of the time. When scripts stop working, video sputters, web pages will not load, I check my DD-WRT logging software and see my upstream bandwidth has been restricted all the way down to 0 Kbps, with spikes to 4Kbps...pathetic. Digg is unusuable at low upstream bandwidths, as our other social media sites that use frames and extra HTML + CSS + (anything else) and especially TOOLBARS!

One day I will have Synchronous FTTH Internet and a minimum of 10Mb/10Mb and these Cable Internet no service issues will becomes a thing of Christmas past - thank goodness. Even DSL at a promised 384KB upstream is over 300 times faster than 100% of throttled Cable Internet, DSL is cheaper too, even after paying out $200 to get started. Not a fan of AT&T, however they offer an 80% upstream bandwidth guarantee with their DSLExtreme service and the price is right, but I digress.

People take a look at your websites, let the web surfer decide when an event is triggered, stop helping us and automating events we don't care about that only serve to slow us down. It makes your website unusable for many of us and if it gets frustrating enough, we will stop using your site, period.

purpose. (1, Informative)

LordMyren (15499) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959600)

i wasnt aware the addon had a toolbar. what i was aware of, is that it attempts to detect phone numbers on the page, and replaces those numbers with a graphical link that launches a skype call to that number.

Re:purpose. (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 3 years ago | (#34960034)

It that's true, then that solves the question with regards to why it would cause a slowdown. I could image that parsing a whole Slashdot page with 500 comments in it to find phone numbers and inserting links would cause some kind of additional slowdown ;-)

This is why... (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958862)

...software makers should not auto-install add-ons to other programs that users haven't asked for. WTG Skype.

Re:This is why... (2, Insightful)

gorzek (647352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959468)

Oh, but you "asked" for it when you didn't bother to uncheck the "Yes, install Skype Toolbar!" button during installation. Never mind that it's checked by default and most people just click "Next" until the thing is finished...

Re:This is why... (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959482)

Skype installing a toolbar isn't half as annoying as the JRE (Java Runtime) or my Logitech Mouse Software installing the Yahoo! toolbar.

All I have to say is... (5, Insightful)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958864)

All I have to say is good for them! Yahoo toolbar here, Some-Terribly-Pointless toolbar there... as I warn people I know, always press the "Advanced Install" option and if possible.

Skype is Adware, there I said it. Do something without the user's consent or knowledge (what is a EULA?)... I mean who uses a Skype toolbar anyway? Most people I ask usually reply, "Well I didn't know how to get rid of it..."

Rabble rabble rabble...I hate these types of software "bonuses" and blatant "promotions". Is it just me or do companies not realize that these practices usually make the customer angry? (I mean it certainly doesn't make them happy every time they view something they disabled.) /endrant

Re:All I have to say is... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958944)

It's code like yours which makes for buggy toolbars. You're missing the /rant tag for your /endrant.

Re:All I have to say is... (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959614)

For me the /rant tag is depreciated... it is implied now and built into my thought-process compiler.

Re:All I have to say is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34960022)

Depreciated? It's value went down over time?

Re:All I have to say is... (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958986)

If you aren't angry enough to not purchase over it, then clearly you aren't offsetting the money they make using the feature.

Re:All I have to say is... (1)

danlip (737336) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959266)

I'm just vaguely annoyed. I do advanced install on every piece of software I install. Skype allows you to not install the toolbar, and so does just about every other piece of software with this annoyance. It so common and there is a work around so I'm not going to try and shop around for products that don't do it. Still I wish they wouldn't.

Re:All I have to say is... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959196)

It's not that they don't know, it's that they don't care. So what if they piss you off? They don't need your business; it's a global market and they have seven billion other prospective customers.

Re:All I have to say is... (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959710)

Very true... but if we look at AOL's homepage and Google's homepage, there is a tipping point for many users on clutter.

it's a global market and they have seven billion other prospective customers

Except for China now right? Either way your point is entirely valid.

Re:All I have to say is... (1)

egranlund (1827406) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959258)

Well, beyond the ads you speak of, this toolbar is useful in that it makes phone numbers on web pages render as links to call the number in skype which is nifty.

Re:All I have to say is... (1)

vlueboy (1799360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34960088)

Is it just me or do companies not realize that these practices usually make the customer angry?

The sad reality is that they do all the math in advance and it works for them to use this formula:
take_advantage_of_customer() until ( angry_customer_count >= oblivious_customers_count )

Bold company complacency creates user distrust, boredom and other such "customer classes" who become very vocal online. Some major complaint convinces a class or two to riducule or vouch against the company, and suddenly you have the next AOL, who has gone from 20 million users to 5 after y2k [clarkhoward.com] .

Unfortunately, that's an exception and most companies can do what they like, especially for free services. See Facebook.

Bravo (1)

Fast Thick Pants (1081517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958882)

Any extension that's known to be installed on the sly should make the kill list in my opinion, but especially one that's causing crashes.

Problems with Chrome too (4, Interesting)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958884)

I had a similar problem yesterday except in Chrome. I guess I wasn't really paying attention but why the hell does Skype install toolbars without my input anyway?

That addon was removed pretty damn quick after it crashed and locked up my browsing session. Useless crap...

sounds like this (2)

nimbius (983462) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958906)

summary was written by a skype executive...just because you developed a great product doesnt mean there isnt:
1. competition that is less popular but technologically superior, just waiting for an advance
2. cause to assume your success and popularity are justification for sloppy software lifecycle practices.
3. open source communities capable of reacting organically to protect their users, not your profits.

Re:sounds like this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959198)

summary was written by a skype executive...just because you developed a great product doesnt mean there isnt: 1. competition that is less popular but technologically superior, just waiting for an advance 2. cause to assume your success and popularity are justification for sloppy software lifecycle practices. 3. open source communities capable of reacting organically to protect their users, not your profits.

If Apple did this, would you be saying the same thing?

Re:sounds like this (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959926)

Youd have to tweak #3 some but, yes.

If they make a decision based on the customer good (key point), and make it easy to undo the change. Then I have no issues with them doing it.

Note: Im not a big Apple fan.

re: sounds like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34960016)

Dear Sir or Madam,

When you start your post in the "subject" box, and continue it on in the body of the post as if it's just another line break, it makes you look like an ignorant twat.

Please refrain from this usage in the future.

Thank you,

Rand M. User III

But you still can't uninstall it... (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958912)

I had this blocked from the minute I installed Skype, and since I'm not in the habit of calling random strangers on the internets via the 'callto:' tag, I haven't noticed any performance problems with Skype at all...

However, the uninstall button for the plug-in is greyed out, so there's no quick way to remove it altogether. I'm sure there must be a way, I just haven't cared enough about it (yet) to google for a solution.

Re:But you still can't uninstall it... (5, Insightful)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959090)

WHY is it grayed out? WHY MOZILLA? Tell us?

This is not acceptable, the button should always be enabled even if the file is a plugin and resides outside of mozilla's profile folders, have a delete plugin file button. When you click it if you don't have the user rights to delete the file it should automatically throw a user escalation prompt.
How hard is it to get this right? COME ON!

While we are at it forbid installation of plugins and extensions without direct user approval from inside firefox. What OTHER installers are doing to firefox shouldn't be trusted, not at all.

Re:But you still can't uninstall it... (3, Interesting)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959250)

I agree that no outside installer should be able to install an addon without explicit permission the next time the user enters the browser. Would avoid people who don't know better than to look at all those checkbox options when they install something (like anything from Yahoo or even Java).

Re:But you still can't uninstall it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959476)

i agree. say a application does install a toolbar without the user being aware. FireFox could detect the new toolbar and prompt the user if they would like to actually use it. We can't control what others do during installation but we could control what FireFox does when new stuff is added to it.

Re:But you still can't uninstall it... (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#34960094)

The next time the user enters the browser, how is the browser supposed to know if an addon is new?

Should Firefox maintain a list of installed addons? What stops a shady addon from manually modifying this list?
Should Firefox sign a list of installed addons? Firefox is open source; what stops a shady addon from just reading the key from the code and signing the updated list? Would you want your list of installed addons to automatically transmit to a mozilla website so that they can sign using a private key? That causes all sorts of privacy concerns on its own.

I, too, would like and have asked for something like this. But I'm pretty certain that they can't do it without a server call or closing a piece of their code.

Re:But you still can't uninstall it... (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959322)

You've got to be really careful with anything that requires user escalation... I'm not sure if there is a clean way to do this. However, this is the reason there are some "uninstallable" addons - They're addons that were installed system-wide.

Just deleting files from Firefox unfortunately screws up uninstaller apps.

I don't think there is a clean way to do what you want in a cross-platform manner.

Re:But you still can't uninstall it... (3, Informative)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959370)

Because such add-ons are installed and loaded differently from standard add-ons. Normal add-ons are per-user and reside in the user's profile; Firefox knows what this directory structure looks like and can safely remove addons. However these special add-ons are installed who knows where on your disk and a special registry entry set up to have every Firefox user profile load them. Firefox doesn't even know if it CAN be uninstalled (Example: user permissions forbid writing to the add-on's folder, likely to happen under Vista/7).

Re:But you still can't uninstall it... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959842)

Then it shouldn't ever load them

Re:But you still can't uninstall it... (2)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959474)

WHY is it grayed out? WHY MOZILLA? Tell us?

Because it's installed globally, IE for all profiles. Why should user a be able to remove it for user b?

Re:But you still can't uninstall it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959824)

Because chances are 90 out of 91 that user B doesn't want it either.

Re:But you still can't uninstall it... (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959902)

> Why should user a be able to remove it for user b?

Because maybe it is a trojan/spyware/adaware that was installed by mistaked, you know.

Firefox should either
a) let the _user_ uninstall it, with the dialog that pops up "Warning: This will effect all users!", or
b) "You need to restart firefox in administrator mode to uninstall this plugin. Would you like to do that now? [ ]Yes, [ ] No"

It's not fricken rocket science.

Re:But you still can't uninstall it... (1)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 3 years ago | (#34960092)

Then why not have the uninstall button active, but instead of uninstalling, it pops up an explanation?

Grayed-out Addons... (4, Informative)

kcbnac (854015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959194)

Are installed not to the user profile. Exit Firefox, re-launch as an Administrator (Right-click the shortcut, select 'Run as Administrator' and accept the UAC prompt)

You'll now find yourself able to uninstall that, and any previous versions of the Java Console that have been left behind by numerous updates to that piece of software as well.

Re:Grayed-out Addons... (1)

obarel (670863) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959852)

Thank you thank you thank you thank you so much!

Re:Grayed-out Addons... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34960000)

Are installed not to the user profile. Exit Firefox, re-launch as an Administrator (Right-click the shortcut, select 'Run as Administrator' and accept the UAC prompt)

You'll now find yourself able to uninstall that, and any previous versions of the Java Console that have been left behind by numerous updates to that piece of software as well.

Lies. Even running as admin you can't remove quicktime, windows drm, .net, adobe, and other crap from firefox.

I might have to keep quicktime installed on my computer for some video work, but I hate quicktime and I DON'T want firefox to interface with quicktime at all.

The most annoying thing about firefox is that it doesn't allow the ADMIN USER to easily remove extensions & plugins from firefox.

The only way that really works is to edit the C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\greprefs\all.js file so that the plugins/extensions aren't loaded at all.

Queue endless discussion on allowing add-ons... (3, Funny)

HarvardAce (771954) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958914)

And here comes the endless 500 post thread on how shouldn't allow to install without . This then ends up becoming a debate on operating system security and rights management and 100 other completely unrelated topics. Oh, and vi is better.

Re:Queue endless discussion on allowing add-ons... (1, Offtopic)

HarvardAce (771954) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958930)

d'oh...that should have read:

And here comes the endless 500 post thread on how [Browser X] shouldn't allow [Add-on Y] to install without [User doing Z].

This then ends up becoming a debate on operating system security and rights management and 100 other completely unrelated topics.

Oh, and vi is better.

Re:Queue endless discussion on allowing add-ons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958954)

And here comes the endless 500 post thread on how shouldn't allow to install without . This then ends up becoming a debate on operating system security and rights management and 100 other completely unrelated topics. Oh, and vi is better.

Naw, it becomes a 500-post thread about how, if they'd just left an about:config option for the goddamn status bar, we wouldn't have to bog our browsers down with third-party modifications (whether they be in the form of add-ons or extensions.)

Re:Queue endless discussion on allowing add-ons... (2)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959024)

And here comes the endless 500 post thread on how shouldn't allow to install without...

And another 501 posts complaining about other people's comments...

Re:Queue endless discussion on allowing add-ons... (4, Funny)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959162)

Oh, and vi is better.

F that noise. If it was so great there wouldn't be an improved version. Having said that, Emacs has never been improved. Thus Vim is the best of all. QED.

Re:Queue endless discussion on allowing add-ons... (1)

HarvardAce (771954) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959280)

+1 internets to you, sir.

Re:Queue endless discussion on allowing add-ons... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959534)

Having said that, Emacs has never been improved.

I was going to respond by saying that there have been various emacs variants, but...

Whisky tango... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958920)

Why do people insist on having desktop apps embedded as plugins to browsers?

Re:Whisky tango... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959166)

Why do people insist on having desktop apps as webpages?

Good Griddance (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958932)

Thank god. I had to install skype for an interview.
When I removed it, it decided to wipe out all my bookmarks, addons and themes for firefox.

I was pissed, but at least I had xmarks.
If not, there would be hell to pay.

Should have had a notice rather then just disable. (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958936)

I would much rather a pop up told the user that addon X has problems and then give them the option to disable it.

Re:Should have had a notice rather then just disab (1)

orkim (238312) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959012)

Thats exactly what happened. At least, thats what happened for me this morning.

Had I not thought sooner I would have manually disabled it to. It was a nice reminder that I had not disabled it yet.

So... it only disables the toolbar plugin, right? (1)

Just Brew It! (636086) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958958)

Do "millions of users" really rely on Skype's toolbar plugin? Do "millions of users" even know what Skype's toolbar does? Didn't think so.

This is a complete non-event, except perhaps for the developers who worked on the toolbar code (who may be facing a demotion, or at least a less-than-stellar performance review).

Re:So... it only disables the toolbar plugin, righ (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959042)

Do "millions of users" really rely on Skype's toolbar plugin? Do "millions of users" even know what Skype's toolbar does? Didn't think so.

This is a complete non-event, except perhaps for the developers who worked on the toolbar code (who may be facing a demotion, or at least a less-than-stellar performance review).

No, but millions of people have Firefox and Skype installed together, which means the addon is installed by default, and most people don't bother to go changing things. The toolbar makes Firefox slow and crashy, and these millions of people think it's just Firefox sucking.

Re:So... it only disables the toolbar plugin, righ (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959214)

33,000 crashes in one week from one cause is a definite event, and means someone needs to fix it. Mozilla tried to get Skype to work on it for two weeks and, when that failed, they had to do something themselves.

Note that each user is warned (2)

guanxi (216397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959006)

The toolbar isn't silently turned off; there's nothing that nefarious going on. Users are notified about what is happening, and as the post says, can re-enable the toolbar if they choose.

That said, I'm not thrilled about anyone remotely doing anything on my computer without my explicit permission ahead of time.

Re:Note that each user is warned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959278)

The nefarious part is Skype installing a fucking toolbar on all of my browsers without asking for, or allowing, any input on the matter. This is pure malware behaviour. It's indefensible. It should NEVER be accepted. Mozilla is doing the right thing here, even though they didn't to it because of the malware behaviour but because it made Firefox more unstable.

Auto-Installing *anything* needs to die. (5, Interesting)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959014)

Anything that auto-installs needs to go to hell and burn.

Most recent example: My boss finally starts using Chrome instead of IE. Shortly after he starts using it, he complains that Gmail won't load - it gets stuck in a reloading loop. I look it up and NO ONE seems to know what is happening. Clearing the cache - all that - nothing works. A couple weeks later, it happens to me, and I immediately notice something new - a new extension has been installed, a big green "M" in the upper right hand side. McAfee decided I needed their "safe browsing extension" (something I NEVER want), and the safe browsing extension seems to cause the gmail reload loop. I uninstalled it (just because I didn't want it) and immediately noticed that the gmail problem was resolved.

Browser makers (well, google, and maybe mozilla) work really hard to make a kick ass, stable program, and then any jackass with some untested crap can auto-install whatever they want and bring it down. Skype, McAffee, these are supposed to be mature companies (well, some people hate McAfee, but whatever) yet they still pull BS shit (yes, two shits) like auto-installing something that isn't even stable. Or Apple installing safari automatically (but apple is already evil so that wasn't too much of a surprise).

I really wish there were some way to make that illegal without just causing some big legal shithole. Really I just wish there was some code of honor that good software vendors would agree too - autoinstalling being something to avoid (or have a box that says "Do you want to install the Skype shitty toolbar" *making sure* to have a "don't ask me again" checkbox).

This isn't 2003 and I don't want every toolbar you came up with installed on my machine!
-Taylor

Re:Auto-Installing *anything* needs to die. (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959106)

But creating add-ons for Firefox is cool so they have to do it to look hip.

(I think I'm repeating myself.)

Re:Auto-Installing *anything* needs to die. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959134)

I recently updated Adobe Acrobat Reader, and it installed some McAfee program in the process. Of course, I immediately uninstalled the McAfee crapware, but that's beside the point.

I lost all respect for McAfee to handle security on computers after I found out how poor of a job at handling their own security: For some time, all of McAfee's products were stored on their FTP server for download, protected by the username and password combination of: licensed:321

Re:Auto-Installing *anything* needs to die. (0)

Graff (532189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959180)

Apple installing safari automatically (but apple is already evil so that wasn't too much of a surprise).

Apple never automatically installed Safari on Windows machines. When you use Apple's updater it will have Safari checked as an additional, optional install but you can uncheck that and Safari won't be installed. It's not hidden or automatic, the user can check or uncheck the box as they desire.

Re:Auto-Installing *anything* needs to die. (1)

egranlund (1827406) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959304)

Yes, but it's an opt-out install rather than an opt-in install which most of these toolbars are in the first place. Most people don't notice (hence why they make it opt-out in the first place) and get a load of crap with everything they install.

The Skype toolbar is opt-out too...

Re:Auto-Installing *anything* needs to die. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959366)

QuickTime is the thing they force you to install when you only want iTunes.

Re:Auto-Installing *anything* needs to die. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959742)

Or put another way, they require codecs to be installed if you want to install their software that uses said codecs. Not just for *your* files, but *all* files that iTunes can play.

Re:Auto-Installing *anything* needs to die. (5, Insightful)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959536)

Apple installing safari automatically (but apple is already evil so that wasn't too much of a surprise).

Apple never automatically installed Safari on Windows machines. When you use Apple's updater it will have Safari checked as an additional, optional install but you can uncheck that and Safari won't be installed. It's not hidden or automatic, the user can check or uncheck the box as they desire.

You are wrong, sorry:
http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9901006-7.html [cnet.com]

When they first introduced the tactic, it was not listed under "optional installs", but right alongside iTunes under "updates" or whatever, so it looked like an update to something you already had. For years, I just clicked "yes" to the apple updater, because it was always just there to update software I had (iTunes). And then one day, it said Safari needed an update, even though I didn't have it installed. Well, *I* noticed this, but plenty of other people didn't.

After a little while, they moved it from "updates" to "additional installs" or whatever, but it was still checked by default. People had to pay attention, and normally with software updaters, you just say yes - its an "update".

You build a certain level of trust with a user that your "updater" will only be used for updates, and it is an abuse of that trust to use it for installing new software without making it extremely clear that something has changed (like not having it checked by default, or having a prompt that is different from the usual software's behavior).

You may say it would be my fault for getting duped, but what about my mom? She doesn't have a lot of money, so her computer is a few years old. She's also not very computer savvy, so she falls victim to every one of these things, and her computer is constantly loaded up with extra junk. All she wants to do is log onto facebook to message her children, and her computer is so slow she can't really do that anymore.

The bottom line is:
*When someone like Apple tricks a user into installing new software, they're cheating old ladies out of communication with their loved ones just to pump up their install base.*

That is true sleezeball move.

Re:Auto-Installing *anything* needs to die. (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959226)

We should just make a foundation that goes around and sues companies that make auto installing toolbars, maybe hire some layers to pull them through the mud, using despicable legal tricks to stall the case and cost them money.
Small claims court cases submitted out of town or to a minor employee so when they ignore it you autowin.

Re:Auto-Installing *anything* needs to die. (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959606)

We should just make a foundation that goes around and sues companies that make auto installing toolbars, maybe hire some layers to pull them through the mud, using despicable legal tricks to stall the case and cost them money.
  Small claims court cases submitted out of town or to a minor employee so when they ignore it you autowin.

Yeah, that's not that bad of an idea. I hate that kind of shit, but that's kind of what the companies are asking for when they ignore user rights. They go sleezy, we go sleezy. So much nowadays, people will walk all over you unless some lawyer scares them away from it.
-Taylor

Re:Auto-Installing *anything* needs to die. (1)

Damek (515688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959242)

I pretty much agree. I hate installing Adobe Reader and how it puts toolbars all over everything.

It would be nice if browsers like Firefox and Chrome could monitor installed extensions and only activate ones the user approves. Both Chrome and Firefox already warn you that extensions can harm your computer, and require you to confirm installation of ones you want to download and install. Shouldn't they be able to notice when a new extension has been installed that hasn't been approved by the user, and prompt the user with something like, "Firefox has noticed a new extension has been installed. Do you want to activate _EXTENSION_ by _COMPANY_?"

I guess then the third parties would just start spoofing user approval and we'd be right back where we started.

Re:Auto-Installing *anything* needs to die. (1)

Prikolist (1260608) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959636)

We can all keep dreaming. It will happen around same time when programs will ask during install whether we actually want their quickstart/autoupdate services/startup items/tray icons.
I remember QuickTime used to bug me with installing one of those automatic programs (qttask?), which I had to either disable with some startup control utility or open the program and go through several hard to find screens of options to disable it (not explicitly either, it was rather disabling updates). Then newer versions (since around 2007) had an option during install whether to set the program to update automatically. Guess what? After making sure I select the right thing during install, on a clean new system, it would still run on startup with automatic updates set to 'on' in options. Haven't used the program for over a year now, so not sure if that bug (intentional or not) was ever fixed. I think that was the point when I lost the remains of my faith that friendly software installations will ever exist.

and quite a long time in coming, too (1)

pm_rat_poison (1295589) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959032)

did I get asked for this? noooooo.
all extensions not explicitely allowed by the user should be disabled.

not happening under OS X? (1)

bball99 (232214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959168)

have not seen this problem w/ff and skype under os x?

Two Comments (1, Insightful)

Wooky_linuxer (685371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959174)

1. Skype shouldn't have the ability to install an extension without explicit user agreement. I believe this is Mozilla's fault, it has been abused by others as well. Fix the extension installation process.

2. There shouldn't be a kill switch to an extension. It may be used in a benign form today, but tomorrow perhaps it will be used to kill an extension that allows users to see Facebook pictures, or whatever. I don't wan't that in my browser.

Basically, let me decide what I install in my browser (as well as my computer). It's simple.

Re:Two Comments (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959494)

2. It isn't really a kill switch. It disables the addon by default, but you can select to leave it enabled. Call it a stun switch.

Re:Two Comments (1)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959618)

But what if the Mozilla landing party loses too many redshirts?

Re:Two Comments (3, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959550)

1. Skype shouldn't have the ability to install an extension without explicit user agreement. I believe this is Mozilla's fault, it has been abused by others as well. Fix the extension installation process.

No, its the OS's fault. As Mozilla is just another application with the same level of privileged access to the user's configuration settings as any other application, anything that Mozilla can do to stop auto-installers can be undone by the very same auto-installers. If Skype really wanted to, the next version of their auto-installer could turn off this "kill-switch" too.

Re:Two Comments (1)

robmv (855035) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959870)

If Mozilla try do do #1, this will happen

First round

1) Third-party install extension
2) Firefox detects it and ask for user confirmation
3) Firefox saves somewhere that the add-on was approved or rejected

Second round

1) Third-party install extension
2) Third-party modify the same files Mozilla saved on the first round to set itself as approved
3) user do not see any confirmation and the add-on is enabled

A third-party installer will always be able to set an extension as enabled, no matter what Mozilla developers do. Only if the OS give you the technology to separate entirely one application from the other, for example like Android do, one user per application (a user could be shared but the applications must be signed with the same key)

Re:Two Comments (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959880)

If it had been installed through Mozilla's extension installation process, you would be right. Except it isn't, it's installed by Skype. It's a problem you have on all platforms as far as I know, any installer can write all over the place. Personally I think it would have been rather nice to have a system where the skype installer only got access to the skype directory. Not like UAC or sudo which gives you all the keys to the kingdom, but a much more fine grained permission.

Re:Two Comments (1)

greed (112493) | more than 3 years ago | (#34960004)

Congrats, you just re-invented the Apple App Store. (And/or SElinux; though I haven't seen SElinux configured that aggressively.)

That's basically what it does: your .app bundle (NeXTStep-speak for specially-suffixed directory) is self-contained and isn't allowed to fiddle with Other Stuff. It's preferences and user data folders are constrained to follow a specific path name convention.

It's like ./configure --prefix=/where/I/want/it but with enforcement from the installer.

Dear Mozilla (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959192)

Please disable all toolbars by default. When the user logs in, pop up a page that says:

"This program tried to install a toolbar, you probably don't need it and it's probably full of ads. The nephew you always call when you have computer trouble would seriously be mad if you enable it. Would you like to enable it at this time? If so, please type in 'yes, I'd like to be inundated with ads and malware please' in the box bellow."

Re:Dear Mozilla (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959466)

I like that.

Ahh big question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959218)

When? which release?

It's been a while, but... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959220)

Every time I installed Skype, I found the option to avoid installing the ancillary junk.

It's not killed (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959228)

If it's a kill-switch, then the software is dead afterwards and cannot be revived. This sounds like it merely just disables the add-in by default. Hardly a kill-switch. Might as well say that it bricks the skype add-in, sheesh.

I removed it... (2)

Mage66 (732291) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959254)

After having Firefox crash several times because of it. I removed it. I never used it, and don't miss it. Most Skype users won't.

Does anyone use it? (1)

lurker412 (706164) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959288)

I like Skype and use it often, but I have never once used it from within FF. They gave me a dollar credit a few weeks ago in apology for the big outage they had, which honestly didn't affect me in the least. I thought that was a lot nicer than the usual corporate stonewalling of "some of our users may be experiencing minor difficulties..." But I don't or trust toolbars from anyone, and I always disable them.

This has got to stop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959354)

If I install your program, I don't want it loading toolbars or extensions into my browser without my express permission. I use Linux most of the time, but when I have to set up that other OS and Firefox suddenly says "new plugins have been installed", I become extremely annoyed. It is bad enough that these other plugins could potentially be security risks, but they also decrease performance.

Simple rule: just ask.

*gasp* (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959538)

[whisper] *awesome*

Toolbars are bad (0)

stalky14 (574130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959568)

MMMkay?

What toolbar? (1)

Artifex (18308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959622)

Never had it try to automatically install a toolbar in my Firefox or my Chrome in OS X.
Doesn't look like it stuck anything in Safari, either, but since I never use that, I wouldn't care.

You people and your OS centricism.

Fantastic (1)

Dega704 (1454673) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959634)

I honestly wish every browser would do this with every toolbar. They are worthless and annoying. Seriously, toolbars should have gone away with the early 2000s, and here they still are all over the place like damn cockroaches. On windows I have another one humping my leg every time I turn around. They don't even provide any useful functionality besides taking up screen space and slowing everything down. Unrequested software that automatically installs by default with other software should be banned; plain and simple. If I took my car in to get new tires and they installed an enormous, ugly spoiler with their logo all over it at the same time I would be livid. Anyone would. So why is anyone tolerating this nonsense?

Ramifications such as... (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959648)

Firefox running faster and not crashing?

Quelle horreur!

Not Automatic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959660)

Wait, since when is this ALWAYS installed when you install Skype?

I've used Skype for almost a year now, and Firefox for many years. I've NEVER had the Skype toolbar installed.

I always use advance installation, but that doesn't mean this statement: "Whenever Skype is installed or updated, it automatically installs the Skype Toolbar add-on for Firefox." isn't wrong.

In fact I recently reformatted and reinstalled both programs a few weeks ago. No toolbar. Not even "greyed out."

4fuck a trolql (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959720)

OpenBSD, As the [goat.cx]

Ramifications for millions of users (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959950)

Not having an apoplectic stroke when I find out that Skype is fucking with my Firefox -- now that's a ramification I can live with.

Also does this on Chrome (1)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34960086)

Normally I operate on a "no toolbars!" principle, but I tried it to see what it did. I wasn't impressed when Chrome began crashing irregularly. I recommend people uninstall it pronto, if you are suffering from Chrome crashes.

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