Oracle’s Java software has long been a sore spot for Windows PC users. The default installation deceptively includes the option to install the Ask.com toolbar, a piece of irritating aware that returns poor search results laden with ads. It also changes your default homepage without asking.
Curiously enough, Oracle has chosen not to bundle the toolbar with Mac versions of the Java installer… that is, until now.
In an obvious effort to double down on revenue, Oracle is now trying to pull its same tricks on Mac users. Java 8 Update 40 for the Mac, much like its Windows counterpart, ticks the option to install the Ask app by default. Users that typically fly through the software installation process or those that aren’t terribly tech savvy likely won’t realize they’ve agreed to install Ask until after the fact.
Aside from tracking your browsing history and serving up crummy search results littered with ads, there isn’t yet any evidence to suggest the Ask app is malicious in nature. It’s just really annoying and completely useless.
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to remove the toolbar through either the extensions menu or the toolbar’s own help menu depending on which browser you’re using. You’ll also want to revert your homepage back to the site of your choosing.
The timing of Oracle’s decision is especially poor considering Lenovo’s recent Superfish fiasco. That incident served as an opportunity for the industry to break free of its bloatware tactics but thus far, that scenario has failed to materialize.
If nothing else, this simply reminds us to pay attention during the installation process of new software, even if it’s from a seemingly trustworthy source.