Last Updated on August 22, 2023
I don’t swear much, in fact there are only three things that are likely to make me swear at all. In no particular order – my teenage son, printers and the Ask Toolbar.
I try to avoid the first two whenever possible, however I am forever plagued by the scourge that is the Ask Search toolbar. You’ve probably come across it too, in fact if you don’t stay constantly aware the little bastard will certainly install it on your computer at some point. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about here’s a reminder and the origin of about 99% of the installs.
This screen which most of us skip through in nano-seconds during the install of one of the 100 yearly Java updates is where you’ll get caught. I know it’s there and it’s always getting me, you click on next and in the corner of your eye you just catch a glimpse of the ‘Add Search App by Ask.’, but it’s too late your mouse has already registered your click and continues. You have just requested that one of the most pervasive and irritating pieces of adware be installed on your computer and have signed your agreement to whatever horrors are contained in the Ask.com Terms and Conditions.
There are hundreds of different versions of this vile search add on, which produce a variety of annoying results. Depending on which version you have the misfortune to install, you’ll get your search results modified, adverts inserted into your browsing, your home page altered and forced to use the Ask search engine. I hate it vehemently, it is also a complete bugger to remove as is usually the case.
Finally now though the industry is beginning to act on the sort of hate that this toolbar generates. It’s only achieved any sort of legitimacy from piggy backing the Java install, and it’s probably done some severe damage to Oracle’s reputation. Now Microsoft has finally classed it as malware and it’s security products now remove the accursed toolbar. Well to be more accurate, Microsoft have classified it as ‘unwanted software’ which is like classifying leprosy as an unwanted skin condition. I presume that’s to prevent legal wranglings and arguments over the definition of ‘malware’ – even though it is.
It’s not perfect, not all versions of the Ask toolbar are included only the earlier advert injecting ones, so you’ll still have to be on your guard. I presume it’s still in the Java Runtime installer but fortunately I’ve cut down on my drinking and haven’t accidentally installed that for a while.