Oracle starts pushing Yahoo instead of Ask Toolbar with Java installations

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 25, 2015

When it comes to individual software programs spreading potentially unwanted programs (PUP), it is Adobe Flash and Oracle's Java that need to be mentioned in this regard in particular due to the immense reach both products have.

Adobe's been spreading McAfee Security Scan Plus with Flash downloads while Oracle had an agreement with Ask to spread the company's toolbar to user systems.

The latter appears a thing of the past though as the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Oracle will soon replace the Ask Toolbar offer included in new Java installations and upgrades with Yahoo offers.

Yahoo's Chief Executive Marissa Mayer announced the deal on the company's shareholder conference according to the magazine.

Users who install Java anew or run upgrades on their systems will be "prompted to make Yahoo their browser's default search engine and home page".

The offer is opt-out which means that any user not paying attention to the installation dialog will end up with Yahoo being installed as the homepage and search engine in browsers installed on the system.

Java's installer checks for installed browsers and modifies the prompt accordingly. For instance, if you only have Internet Explorer installed only Microsoft's browser will be listed while Chrome may be listed as well if it is installed on the machine.

  1. Google Chrome: Yahoo will be set as the new homepage, search provider and new tab page.
  2. Internet Explorer: Yahoo will be set as the new homepage and search provider.

It appears that Firefox is exempt from the offer. While it is not clear why that is the case, the most likely explanation is that Yahoo has a deal in place with Mozilla already that deploys Yahoo Search on US Firefox installations as the default search engine.

The offer appears to be only integrated in the online installer that Oracle pushes out by default. Offline installers, which you find listed on this page on the Java website, appear clean at this point in time. It is unclear if the offer is limited geographically, for instance US-only, or worldwide.

Oracle did not comment on the deal and why it switched from offering the Ask Toolbar to Java downloaders to Yahoo's offer instead. While it may be tempting to assume that this has something to do with Microsoft classifying the Ask Toolbar as a threat, it could very well have other reasons, for instance that Yahoo's offer was better financially or that the constant spreading of Ask's Toolbar has saturated the market and lowered Oracle's income in the process.

End users who install Java on their computer systems are as affected as before by the third-party offer. While it will "only" replace homepage, search engine and tab page in the browser and not install add-ons on top of that, it is still highly problematic due to the opt-in nature of the offer and the time it takes to undo those changes if unwanted.

Oracle starts pushing Yahoo instead of Ask Toolbar with Java installations
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Oracle starts pushing Yahoo instead of Ask Toolbar with Java installations
Oracle has started to include Yahoo offers instead of the Ask Toolbar in Java installers.

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  1. Ian Scrimgeour said on June 26, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    I seem to have managed quite well without Java this past year, Windows 8.1, am thinking of trashing Flash as well.

  2. Gary said on June 25, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    Doesn’t Adobe try to install Chrome on systems as well? I thought it was Adobe but I get tired of having to say NO to Chrome all the time…

    1. Graham said on June 27, 2015 at 8:54 am

      I’ve never heard of that, Gary. I know they do try to push McAfee, though, which is thankfully (and easily) opt-out.

  3. Nebulus said on June 25, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    I don’t understand from where this ill will towards Yahoo! comes from… When Oracle bundled Ask toolbar, everyone was blaming Oracle for the move, and not Ask themselves; now when Yahoo took the place of Ask, people suddenly started blaming them instead of Oracle…

    1. JohnB said on June 25, 2015 at 10:35 pm

      The difference is this: “Ask” had already established itself as a bottom-feeding slimeball company, and people were slagging Oracle for getting into bed with them. Whereas Yahoo is supposed to be a reputable, top-tier tech company that should know better. Apparently not.

  4. brunob said on June 25, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    You guys seem to have forgotten Google is/was pushing the Chrome the same way. It’s just too tempting and (probably) effective not to use it.

    1. theMike said on June 26, 2015 at 12:25 am

      when i work on people’s computers I’ll ask if they use Google chrome. 99% don’t know what it is much less how it got onto their computer.

  5. Craig said on June 25, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    I do not want either.

    1. Sukhen said on June 25, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      I too hate all these 3 – Oracle, Yahoo and Ask and of course, Java since it’s become vulnerable

  6. JohnB said on June 25, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Great. Oracle has been sneaking “Ask” onto people’s computers via Java updates for years. Now it’s gonna be Yahoo instead. Slimey move on Yahoo’s part… I thought they were better than that.

    Oracle needs to figure out a different way to monetize Java – preferably one that doesn’t involve shoving unwanted search engines & useless toolbars down people’s throats.

    1. DVD Rambo said on June 25, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      Yeah, this puts Yahoo! in Ask territory, which is not a favorable place to be.

      I wonder if this change will undo the checked box for “Suppress Sponsor Offers” Since checking that box in Java settings I haven’t seen any Ask offers at all. I hope not.

  7. Inderjeet said on June 25, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Agree with Wybo !

  8. wybo said on June 25, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Yahoo has been down in the dumps for years. It shows they are kinda desperate to get business by sneaking in their PUP. Never used Yahoo and never will.

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