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February 2nd, 2009

Microsoft Stealth Firefox Plug-In, Or, Where Does Bill Want You To Go Today?

Browsing Slashdot, I just came across this, and figured it needed sharing right away…

Microsoft Update Slips In a Firefox Extension

Posted by kdawson on Sunday February 01, @10:45PM
from the hitch-hiker dept.

An anonymous reader writes 

"While doing a weekly scrub of my Windows systems, which includes checking for driver updates and running virus scans, I found Firefox notifying me of a new add-on. It’s labelled ‘Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant,’ and it ‘Adds ClickOnce support and the ability to report installed .NET versions to the web server.’ The add-on could not be uninstalled in the usual way. A little Net searching turned up a number of sites offering advice on getting rid of the unrequested add-on."

The unasked-for extension has been hitchhiking along with updates to Visual Studio, and perhaps other products that depend on .NET, since August. It appears to have gone wider recently, coming in with updates to XP SP3.

Dig it.  Microsoft is not only trying to modified everyone’s Firefox browser, they’re doing it surreptitiously And in a way that makes it difficult for most home users to undo.

People switch to Firefox, largely because they are concerned about the many security flaws in Internet Explorer.  So what does Microsoft do?  Instead of making a better web browser, they infect the one people are turning to in order to have a more secure computer.  Here’s what I think: Microsoft didn’t do this simply to get its .NET technology into Firefox whether users wanted it or not…they did it to make users who are afraid to use IE, afraid to use Firefox too.  Because now you have no idea what new security holes Microsoft has opened up in Firefox.  This is an absolutely brilliant bit of Microsoft FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt). 

Somehow, I don’t think this is going to win them any fans.  Somehow I don’t think Microsoft gives a damn either.  Microsoft will never change its predatory behavior.  It needs to be broken up.

[Update…]

Some Microsoft droids on Slashdot are bellyaching that…well gosh, Adobe installs plug-ins onto Firefox and so does Sun in the form of its Java plug-in and golly a bunch of other software makers do that too so what’s so bad about Microsoft doing it?  You people just like to hate on Microsoft is all.  Which of course conveniently ignores the reality of Microsoft’s ownership of the operating system and the fact that this Firefox plug-in is being delivered in an update to the fucking operating system. 

Microsoft’s position for years has been that its browser (Internet Explorer) is part of the operating system and cannot be separated from it.  Fine.  Swell.  Great.  Really.  But Firefox is not part of the operating system.  So Windows updates need to leave it the fuck alone!  Or…at minimum…ask first.  I realize that asking is not part of the Microsoft vocabulary though…

One Response to “Microsoft Stealth Firefox Plug-In, Or, Where Does Bill Want You To Go Today?”

  1. Tavdy Says:

    Adobe and Sun didn’t install their plug-ins to my version of FireFox, I did (and more importantly, I did so by choice as well)

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