The Ask toolbar is now considered malware by Microsoft

windows, microsoft, computing
Microsoft PR
Update 6/5/2015 11:58AM: Microsoft has updated its alert to clarify that only older versions of the Ask toolbar are a problem. An spokesperson told us the company believes less than one percent of Ask users are impacted by the old version.

If you have a Windows computer, you’re likely already familiar with the Ask toolbar. This add-on, which comes with the installer for Java, can be a big annoyance. In addition to taking up screen space, it can change your default search provider without your permission. Now, Microsoft has deemed the dreaded toolbar as malware.

The Ask toolbar adds 10 different files to your computer upon installation, as well as 10 folders. However, you can protect your computer from it by using Windows’ built-in security software, according to

“Microsoft security software detects and removes this unwanted software,” Microsoft wrote on its website. “Older versions of software can restrict or limit your control over your search provider. It can prevent you from disabling or modifying your search provider.”

Windows Security Essentials and the latest malware protection will now spot the Ask toolbar on Windows 7 or Windows 8. On May 26, Microsoft announced that it plans to protect its customers from similar software that includes “browser search protection functionality.”

“To avoid detection, developers should remove any search protection code from their programs, regardless of whether it is functional or not,” Microsoft stated. “We’ll be working with search protection developers and vendors who have completely disabled search protection functionality from their programs in alignment with our evaluation criteria.”

A program, like the Ask toolbar for example, that may be perceived as a threat to Microsoft is categorized by its ability to hijack a browser and alter its settings.

Java defines the Ask toolbar as a free browser add-on that allows you to surf the Web through However, it also highlights its abilities to stream Facebook notifications, access radio stations and access local weather information. Over time, Java has also released various editions of the Ask toolbar, including Ask Shopping, which provides “enhanced” shopping search results. Evidently, Microsoft isn’t having any of it.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Self-balancing skates, tiny tripods, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

iOS 12 is now available -- here's how to install it on your Apple device

Apple unveiled iOS 12 at this year's WWDC and it's now ready for everyone. Here's how to install iOS 12 on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch using your device's settings or with iTunes on your computer.

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation. Updated meta…

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.

Security flaw on modern PCs could leave your encrypted data exposed

Hackers can revive the decade-old cold boot attack to steal your data by exploiting weaknesses in a modern PC's or Mac's firmware, researchers discovered. The hack requires attackers to have physical access to your PC.

Don't buy a new router, fix your Wi-Fi with these quick tips

Don't panic when your Wi-Fi goes down. Instead, fix it. These simple solutions to the most common Wi-Fi Problems will get you back online at high speed in no time (hopefully) without buying a new router.

This orange puck keeps you online in any country, with one hidden catch

Staying connected on your travels can be a challenge and sometimes results in hefty cell phone bills you could do without. We tried out the Skyroam Solis, a global Wi-Fi hotspot and power bank billed as the perfect solution.

Our favorite gaming desktops make the latest consoles look pathetic

PC gaming doesn't always come cheap, but it doesn't have to be extortionate either. In this guide we've put together a list of the best gaming PCs you can buy, with everything from the big and flashy, to the super compact.

These 15-inch laptops are both powerhouses, but which should you buy?

The Asus ZenBook Pro 15 UX580 offers an innovative twist on the tried-and-true touchpad: the LCD-equipped ScreenPad. That's not all that Asus has up its sleeve, but is it all enough to compete?

Microsoft may go back to black with 2018 Surface Pro and Surface Laptop

Microsoft may be adding black as a color option to its refreshed Surface Laptop and Surface Pro models on October 2nd. Rumors of the new color along with an image of the black Surface Laptop popped up over the weekend.

Microsoft could debut transparent Surface Dial sequel at October event

Microsoft's upcoming October Surface event could show off more than just laptops. A new FCC filing suggests Microsoft may also debut a new Surface Dial device, potentially with a transparent center.
Home Theater

HDMI 2.0b is a whole lot more than just a connection to your TV

HDMI 2.0b is the backbone for many of the latest updates in 4K UHD technology. And while a new cable standard can often involve a bunch of changes for consumers, that is not the case this time around.

The best laptop deals for September 2018

Whether you're getting ready for a new school year, shopping for a special student, or just need a new computer, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going, from discounted MacBooks to an on-the-go gaming PC.

Black Friday 2018: When it happens and where to find the best deals

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.