Mozilla: Microsoft, Google, Apple, and others are being evil

By on November 30, 2010, 12:34 PM
Asa Dotzler, Mozilla's director of community development, has called out Microsoft, Apple, and Google for installing browser plug-ins in Firefox. The Mozilla executive is annoyed with the practice and calls it evil, since the user is not asked to give the companies permission to install the plug-ins in question.

"Why do Microsoft, Google, Apple, and others think that it is an OK practice to add plug-ins to Firefox when I'm installing their software packages," Dotzler wrote on his blog. "Yes, Firefox and other software can do more to help users deal with this bad behavior, but we shouldn't have to for "trustworthy" software vendors like Google, Apple, and Microsoft. These vendors should stop this behavior and let Mozilla and other software organizations focus on more important usability issues than combating their evil behavior."

For Microsoft, Dotzler complains about the Windows Live Photo Gallery and Office Live Plug-in that are added to Firefox after installing Microsoft Office. For Google, he complains about the Google Update plug-in added to Firefox after installing either Google Earth or Google Chrome. For Apple, Dotzler installed iTunes to manage his music collection and sync to his iPod, but it also resulted in the iTunes Application Detector plug-in being added to Firefox.

Dotzler has verbally attacked Google in the past, saying that users should use Bing instead. This was surprising, given that the larger majority of Mozilla's revenue has always come from Google (over 90 percent).





User Comments: 22

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Sheesh...give the guy a baby rattle and be done with it.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't think it is simply about rattling about something, I surely do sympathize with his assertion, because I don't like anyone installing something on my PC without my knowledge, beside cleaning unwanted stuff is annoying anyway.

Guest said:

Ya, specially that google-installer is really extra-annoying.

I've already blocked it through my firewall, and dont have any plans undoing it, till they understand some things...

princeton princeton said:

TomSEA said:

Sheesh...give the guy a baby rattle and be done with it.

That's hypocritical considering people could say that about your views on piracy.

princeton princeton said:

P.S. Don't take that as offensive. I'm just saying I felt it was hypocritical and In no way am I trying to paint myself as someone who is never hypocritical them self.

lipe123 said:

Guest said:

Ya, specially that google-installer is really extra-annoying.

I've already blocked it through my firewall, and dont have any plans undoing it, till they understand some things...

I'm sure google is REALLY scared now...

Anyways maybe it's because everyone just clicks "express install", I'm pretty sure if you choose the custom install option most of these extra toolbars and nonsense can be avoided.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

This article made me look at my Firefox plugins, and in all fairness, I don't think I approved any of them when their parent programs were installed, maybe except VLC.

Cota Cota said:

I agree, im tired of watching stuff stack on my PC, im even more tired of watching it on my family/custumers PC's.

Its time to piss off and stop doing tard stuff in the background, we dont need trash bars in our browsers >

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

"That's hypocritical considering people could say that about your views on piracy."

I had a feeling that was coming.

Regenweald said:

I think Mozilla just realized this year that everyone else has caught up to them and passed them. It's like they're shellshocked. Can't claim most secure, can't claim fastest and rather than digging deep and doing what made them such a great browser for years, they're just bawling......

windmill007 said:

I think firefox should have a default option not to install any toolbars. It should have a window pop up saying a toolbar wants to install. Are you sure you want to allow this. I mean toolbars are one of the biggest causes of browser crashes. Plus they are usually worthless and people don't ask for them. Like they said they are always hidden in the install of some other program and checked by default which makes it even worse. Seriously does anyone ever use a toolbar other then newbies who have 10 toolbars installed and no idea how to rid of them...is that what they are counting on...you looking at a name all the time you are surfing.

windmill007 said:

Hummm Toolbar blocker add on in the mean time anyone?

MrAnderson said:

Sure Mozilla has a lot of heat on them, but they have a point. Even if the average user might consider looking through what is installed, the developer often marks that section "Advanced"... or when you are presented with a list of the things that are going to be installed, the details don't say much espacially when it is going to be operating outside of the realm of the main app.

The Google updater drives me crazy. At work we have a app blocker, and it keeps telling me google updater is trying to run - block or allow. The funny thing is I don't recall installing Chrome or a Google bar on my machine???

And yes when another app plans to "augment" another it should give you a separate prompt after the main app is finished and be straight forward with the user. Otherwise we end up with a mangled Registry after have to search and destroy unwanted plugins and unauthorized services... yeah I'm talking to you Apple!

Guest said:

Ever since Google was pinned with having coined the term "Do no evil" as a motto for their company every half-butt exec and his kid brother now think it's 'in' to toss it at each other. I guess "creative" and "business" are oxymoronic.

mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

It would be nice if on the FIRST screen of any installer, we got a ballet screen showing us what was going to be installed, as simply as possible. I mean how many clicks is it just to update Java before I have to uncheck the option to install bing toolbar? A minimal install is what should be the default and they know it. I agree that current practices are not what they should be. Even if it's just on an annoying level for many, it just plain shouldn't happen.

treeski treeski said:

I don't care much either way whether the companies have the plugins available to install on Firefox, but I think users should be made more aware that it's happening.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

lipe123 said:

maybe it's because everyone just clicks "express install", I'm pretty sure if you choose the custom install option most of these extra toolbars and nonsense can be avoided.

BINGO! I ALWAYS click "custom install". I'm pretty paranoid about what goes on my computer. Programs, plug-ins, whatever the case, I'm cautious with it and if there's a "custom" selection, I'm all over it. A lot of programs I've used made it pretty obvious they wanted to install a toolbar or plug in of some type. You just need to be smart enough to see what all is being installed. Clicking "custom" just shows you what is being installed, and gives you the option to take out or add things.

gobbybobby said:

toolbars do tick me off, but come on, Mozilla should do more to make Firefox go, Hey u realise your installing this, u sure ya wanna?

ChrisG683 said:

I agree 100% with Mozilla here. Phantom plug-in installs are really annoying. They still popup sometimes even when I don't use Express installs. *cough* AVG

tengeta tengeta said:

Yeah its unethical and annoying, but anyone with a slight technical knowledge can get out of it easily. I guess what I'm saying is it isn't surprising.

Guest said:

Just playing devils advocate here (I don't like the practice either, but I can see the reasoning behind it on the developer's side), but if third party plugins should not be installed without the user's permission, shouldn't it be Mozilla's responsibility to make sure they don't get installed without the user's permission?

It seems to me that Mozilla is allowing anybody and everybody to install plugins, then complaining when anybody and everybody installs plugins.

A routine that checks for newly installed plugins on startup (and that intercepts such plugins while running, obviously) and verifies their installation with the user would solve the problem completely, and the only one who can do that is Mozilla. It's not really Microsoft's, Apple's, or Google's problem that Firefox assumes everything in the plugin directory has been approved by the user (and in fact, in a sense it has).

It might be nice if they would tell you they are installing a Firefox plugin, but it isn't really practical. I mean, should they also tell the average user every time they install a background service as well? If so, installs will quickly become extremely tedious. Anybody who doesn't know better probably needs it installed anyway, and those who do know better are capable of finding and removing such things themselves.

Guest said:

None of those companies are saints and small dirty tricks are expected. Adding plug-ins to a browser without asking permission that could lead to them collecting/accessing traffic data is a big deal. Privacy is a big deal and shouldn't be overlook how little or large of a sacrifice it may be. The fact they didn't take a moment to write a few lines of code to ask if you wish to implement the plug-in or not shows they don't care if you want it or not, you're gonna get it. Sure, they can say that they didn't think it was a big deal, but why do near all software developers give you the finer options when installing their software (for example a Yahoo! toolbar or some third-party web-based download) they don't just install it without your consent. These are big companies, they can get it right, but they don't. You think setting the precedent with small installations of plug-ins and software here and there won't lead to them eventually installing bigger and bigger things without your consent? And besides, not everyone is a computer techie who knows how to install software/toolbars/plug-ins.

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