Microsoft installs another Firefox add-on without asking users' permission
With an update for Microsoft's Search Enhancement Pack deployed in the past few days, unaware Windows Live Toolbar users, MSN Toolbar users and Bing Bar users were not only given an extension for Internet Explorer, but also a Firefox add-on, without first being asked for permission. In addition, the furtively installed "Search Helper Extension" can't be removed in the usual way, as the Uninstall button in the Firefox Add-on panel is greyed-out.
To cap it all, it now turns out that Microsoft made a mistake when deploying the update. When queried by Ars Technica Microsoft explained the update was actually only intended for the users of the Bing Bar and MSN Toolbar 4.0. Microsoft said that the flaw has been fixed and the update is now only deployed for the Bing Bar and MSN Toolbar 4.0.
Microsoft has apologised for the mistake and released instructions on deleting the add-on. This involves closing Firefox and then deleting the "SearchHelperExtension" directory in
C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Search Enhancement Pack\Search Helper\firefoxextension; on 64-bit systems, the files can be found in
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft\Search Enhancement Pack\Search Helper\firefoxextension.
Microsoft recommends that users keep the IE extension, as apparently, existing older versions of the MSN Toolbar and the Windows Live Toolbar may not function properly without it.
Microsoft had already caused some annoyance last year by furtively installing a Firefox add-on ("Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant") as part of an update for the .NET framework.