Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Firefox Bug Communications Mozilla News

Mozilla Flips Kill-Switch On Skype Toolbar 284

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-a-time-out-until-you-can-play-nice-with-the-other-kids dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Whenever Skype is installed or updated, it automatically installs the Skype Toolbar add-on for Firefox. Unfortunately, the add-on causes serious performance problems, slowing down some operations by a factor of 300 and is one of the top causes for Firefox crashes. As a result, Mozilla has decided to 'soft-block' the add-on, effectively killing it on all Firefox installs unless the user intentionally re-enables it. Given the extreme popularity of Skype, this has ramifications for millions of users."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Mozilla Flips Kill-Switch On Skype Toolbar

Comments Filter:
  • do it mozilla. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:07PM (#34958858)

    the skype toolbar is junk anyway.

    wait, let me fix it for myself

    toolbars are junk anyway.

    • Re:do it mozilla. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Pieroxy (222434) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:29PM (#34959206) Homepage

      What puzzles me is companies (that are for-profit) blindly alienating customers by installing crap behind the scenes. I know that the average Joe probably notices nothing and will be hard pressed to link the firefox slowdown with the Skype install. On the other hand, skype users are not complete n00bs, so they are a population that probably has a good chance of finding out where the crap came from.

      All in all, this kind of "strategy" puzzles me. What is the toolbar for anyways?

      • by Cwix (1671282)

        skype users are not complete n00bs

        Really, my roommate loves skype, She cant figure out how to work it worth a damn. Id like to throttle the person who told her about it, because Ive become customer support.

        • Id like to throttle the person who told her about it, because Ive become customer support.

          Then stop. Unless you're getting something out of it, why be free support for friends and roommates? I'll help people once for twice as a favour, but after that I play dumb and make like I've exhausted my knowledge on the matter and refer them to a professional.

      • Re:do it mozilla. (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, 2011 @06:04PM (#34959844)

        All in all, this kind of "strategy" puzzles me. What is the toolbar for anyways?

        Highlights phone numbers online, then adds a button so you can make a skype call to that number.

      • by metamatic (202216)

        On the other hand, skype users are not complete n00bs

        Allow me to introduce you to my mother and her sister-in-law. (People who aren't complete n00bs use standard VoIP, not proprietary crap like Skype.)

    • by by (1706743) (1706744) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:33PM (#34959290)
      You're wrong -- toolbars are awesome [penguinpetes.com]...
      • by Cwix (1671282)

        OMG. I suppose you have to give IE credit for even being able to load all that.

      • One of my colleagues sent me a pic similar to that, from a real client with the caption "What is wrong with this picture". I looked at it for a few seconds and said ...

        "It doesn't have Y! or Google Toolbars?"

        Noticed that on this one too.

        Also, I call Bogus, as it is running vmware tools. Nice try though.

    • by cboslin (1532787)

      Skype is wonderful as a VoIP phone, 3-way video calling tool, but a toolbar from them, no way in you know where.

      You are sooo right, tool bars are crap (junk as you put it). Why companies waste their time putting yet another attack vector into their products and on our PCs, laptops, netbooks and smart phones (no root access ~ dumb device...it just ain't smart) is beyond me. A good reason not to purchase their products/services.

      Even more unforgivable is auto update, auto upgrade or doing anything with m

      • by yuna49 (905461)

        Why companies waste their time putting yet another attack vector into their products and on our PCs, laptops, netbooks and smart phones (no root access ~ dumb device...it just ain't smart) is beyond me.

        You don't see any value to having a corporate logo like Yahoo's or Norton's continuously in front of people's faces whenever they use their web browsers? Hmm, maybe you should sign up for Marketing 101.

        Most people don't care about second- and higher-order ramifications of installing something like a toolbar

    • purpose. (Score:2, Informative)

      by LordMyren (15499)

      i wasnt aware the addon had a toolbar. what i was aware of, is that it attempts to detect phone numbers on the page, and replaces those numbers with a graphical link that launches a skype call to that number.

      • by ls671 (1122017) *

        It that's true, then that solves the question with regards to why it would cause a slowdown. I could image that parsing a whole Slashdot page with 500 comments in it to find phone numbers and inserting links would cause some kind of additional slowdown ;-)

    • by digitig (1056110)
      Most of them. Certainly the Skype one is; it trashes the look of websites by putting the skype icon next to almost any string of numbers whether it's a phone number or not, and it's completely unnecessary for using Skype.
    • by sourcerror (1718066) on Friday January 21, 2011 @06:56PM (#34960514)

      The Stumpleupon toolbar is quite cool. And there's the Webdeveloper's toolbar as well.

    • by flyneye (84093)

      Hey!
          Get your damn snow tires off my dragster!

    • The latest BitTorrent update installs a toolbar even if you tell it not to.
  • ...software makers should not auto-install add-ons to other programs that users haven't asked for. WTG Skype.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gorzek (647352)

      Oh, but you "asked" for it when you didn't bother to uncheck the "Yes, install Skype Toolbar!" button during installation. Never mind that it's checked by default and most people just click "Next" until the thing is finished...

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Skype installing a toolbar isn't half as annoying as the JRE (Java Runtime) or my Logitech Mouse Software installing the Yahoo! toolbar.
      • Skype installing a toolbar isn't half as annoying as the JRE (Java Runtime) or my Logitech Mouse Software installing the Yahoo! toolbar.

        Why bother installing the Logitech mouse software? Surely it works fine with out it?

  • by masterwit (1800118) * on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:07PM (#34958864) Journal

    All I have to say is good for them! Yahoo toolbar here, Some-Terribly-Pointless toolbar there... as I warn people I know, always press the "Advanced Install" option and if possible.

    Skype is Adware, there I said it. Do something without the user's consent or knowledge (what is a EULA?)... I mean who uses a Skype toolbar anyway? Most people I ask usually reply, "Well I didn't know how to get rid of it..."

    Rabble rabble rabble...I hate these types of software "bonuses" and blatant "promotions". Is it just me or do companies not realize that these practices usually make the customer angry? (I mean it certainly doesn't make them happy every time they view something they disabled.) /endrant

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:12PM (#34958944)

      It's code like yours which makes for buggy toolbars. You're missing the /rant tag for your /endrant.

      • For me the /rant tag is depreciated... it is implied now and built into my thought-process compiler.

    • If you aren't angry enough to not purchase over it, then clearly you aren't offsetting the money they make using the feature.

      • by danlip (737336)

        I'm just vaguely annoyed. I do advanced install on every piece of software I install. Skype allows you to not install the toolbar, and so does just about every other piece of software with this annoyance. It so common and there is a work around so I'm not going to try and shop around for products that don't do it. Still I wish they wouldn't.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      It's not that they don't know, it's that they don't care. So what if they piss you off? They don't need your business; it's a global market and they have seven billion other prospective customers.

      • Very true... but if we look at AOL's homepage and Google's homepage, there is a tipping point for many users on clutter.

        it's a global market and they have seven billion other prospective customers

        Except for China now right? Either way your point is entirely valid.

    • by vlueboy (1799360)

      Is it just me or do companies not realize that these practices usually make the customer angry?

      The sad reality is that they do all the math in advance and it works for them to use this formula:
      take_advantage_of_customer() until ( angry_customer_count >= oblivious_customers_count )

      Bold company complacency creates user distrust, boredom and other such "customer classes" who become very vocal online. Some major complaint convinces a class or two to riducule or vouch against the company, and suddenly you have the next AOL, who has gone from 20 million users to 5 after y2k [clarkhoward.com].

      Unfortunately, that's an exc

  • Any extension that's known to be installed on the sly should make the kill list in my opinion, but especially one that's causing crashes.
  • by decipher_saint (72686) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:09PM (#34958884) Homepage

    I had a similar problem yesterday except in Chrome. I guess I wasn't really paying attention but why the hell does Skype install toolbars without my input anyway?

    That addon was removed pretty damn quick after it crashed and locked up my browsing session. Useless crap...

  • by nimbius (983462) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:10PM (#34958906) Homepage
    summary was written by a skype executive...just because you developed a great product doesnt mean there isnt:
    1. competition that is less popular but technologically superior, just waiting for an advance
    2. cause to assume your success and popularity are justification for sloppy software lifecycle practices.
    3. open source communities capable of reacting organically to protect their users, not your profits.
  • I had this blocked from the minute I installed Skype, and since I'm not in the habit of calling random strangers on the internets via the 'callto:' tag, I haven't noticed any performance problems with Skype at all...

    However, the uninstall button for the plug-in is greyed out, so there's no quick way to remove it altogether. I'm sure there must be a way, I just haven't cared enough about it (yet) to google for a solution.

    • by jack2000 (1178961) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:21PM (#34959090)

      WHY is it grayed out? WHY MOZILLA? Tell us?

      This is not acceptable, the button should always be enabled even if the file is a plugin and resides outside of mozilla's profile folders, have a delete plugin file button. When you click it if you don't have the user rights to delete the file it should automatically throw a user escalation prompt.
      How hard is it to get this right? COME ON!

      While we are at it forbid installation of plugins and extensions without direct user approval from inside firefox. What OTHER installers are doing to firefox shouldn't be trusted, not at all.

      • by RazzleFrog (537054) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:32PM (#34959250)

        I agree that no outside installer should be able to install an addon without explicit permission the next time the user enters the browser. Would avoid people who don't know better than to look at all those checkbox options when they install something (like anything from Yahoo or even Java).

        • The next time the user enters the browser, how is the browser supposed to know if an addon is new?

          Should Firefox maintain a list of installed addons? What stops a shady addon from manually modifying this list?
          Should Firefox sign a list of installed addons? Firefox is open source; what stops a shady addon from just reading the key from the code and signing the updated list? Would you want your list of installed addons to automatically transmit to a mozilla website so that they can sign using a private key

          • People are proposing a solution for problem A and your counterargument is that it doesn't solve case B. Skype is not a malicious addon, it's an incompetent addon, and this is a fix for incompetent addons.

            A lock on your door makes it slightly more difficult for unauthorized people to get in, even though a murderer could just set your house on fire while you sleep.

      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        You've got to be really careful with anything that requires user escalation... I'm not sure if there is a clean way to do this. However, this is the reason there are some "uninstallable" addons - They're addons that were installed system-wide.

        Just deleting files from Firefox unfortunately screws up uninstaller apps.

        I don't think there is a clean way to do what you want in a cross-platform manner.

      • by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt.gmail@com> on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:38PM (#34959370) Homepage
        Because such add-ons are installed and loaded differently from standard add-ons. Normal add-ons are per-user and reside in the user's profile; Firefox knows what this directory structure looks like and can safely remove addons. However these special add-ons are installed who knows where on your disk and a special registry entry set up to have every Firefox user profile load them. Firefox doesn't even know if it CAN be uninstalled (Example: user permissions forbid writing to the add-on's folder, likely to happen under Vista/7).
        • Well, Firefox could ignore that "special registry entry" and instead require special add-ons to install a small "hook" in each user's profile. That way each user could still remove the addon from their Firefox instance, yet only one version of the addon is still required on the system.

          New users wouldn't get the existing addon. Tough.

      • by OverlordQ (264228)

        WHY is it grayed out? WHY MOZILLA? Tell us?

        Because it's installed globally, IE for all profiles. Why should user a be able to remove it for user b?

        • > Why should user a be able to remove it for user b?

          Because maybe it is a trojan/spyware/adaware that was installed by mistaked, you know.

          Firefox should either
          a) let the _user_ uninstall it, with the dialog that pops up "Warning: This will effect all users!", or
          b) "You need to restart firefox in administrator mode to uninstall this plugin. Would you like to do that now? [ ]Yes, [ ] No"

          It's not fricken rocket science.

        • Then why not have the uninstall button active, but instead of uninstalling, it pops up an explanation?

        • by CCarrot (1562079)

          Why should user a be able to remove it for user b?

          Conversely, why should user b be able to force it on user a?

    • Grayed-out Addons... (Score:5, Informative)

      by kcbnac (854015) <kcbnac@gmai l . c om> on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:29PM (#34959194)

      Are installed not to the user profile. Exit Firefox, re-launch as an Administrator (Right-click the shortcut, select 'Run as Administrator' and accept the UAC prompt)

      You'll now find yourself able to uninstall that, and any previous versions of the Java Console that have been left behind by numerous updates to that piece of software as well.

      • by obarel (670863)

        Thank you thank you thank you thank you so much!

      • by CCarrot (1562079)

        ... and any previous versions of the Java Console that have been left behind by numerous updates to that piece of software as well.

        Aha! I always wondered what "POS" stood for...piece of software! Thanks!

        Note to self: Java Console Update handler = POS

  • by HarvardAce (771954) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:10PM (#34958914) Homepage
    And here comes the endless 500 post thread on how shouldn't allow to install without . This then ends up becoming a debate on operating system security and rights management and 100 other completely unrelated topics. Oh, and vi is better.
  • Whisky tango... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:11PM (#34958920)

    Why do people insist on having desktop apps embedded as plugins to browsers?

  • Good Griddance (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Thank god. I had to install skype for an interview.
    When I removed it, it decided to wipe out all my bookmarks, addons and themes for firefox.

    I was pissed, but at least I had xmarks.
    If not, there would be hell to pay.

  • I would much rather a pop up told the user that addon X has problems and then give them the option to disable it.
  • Do "millions of users" really rely on Skype's toolbar plugin? Do "millions of users" even know what Skype's toolbar does? Didn't think so.

    This is a complete non-event, except perhaps for the developers who worked on the toolbar code (who may be facing a demotion, or at least a less-than-stellar performance review).

  • by guanxi (216397) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:16PM (#34959006)

    The toolbar isn't silently turned off; there's nothing that nefarious going on. Users are notified about what is happening, and as the post says, can re-enable the toolbar if they choose.

    That said, I'm not thrilled about anyone remotely doing anything on my computer without my explicit permission ahead of time.

    • by lgw (121541)

      Of course, the right solution if software X installs any toolbar without asking is to remotely delete the toolbar, uninstall X, modify the user's AV software to consider X malware, exploit DNS vulnerabilities to null-route X's homepage worldwide, then dust off and nuke the headquarters for X from orbit - it's the only way to be sure.

      Mozilla was a bit restrained IMO. I was disappointed that this "kill" switch was figurative.

  • by Facegarden (967477) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:16PM (#34959014)

    Anything that auto-installs needs to go to hell and burn.

    Most recent example: My boss finally starts using Chrome instead of IE. Shortly after he starts using it, he complains that Gmail won't load - it gets stuck in a reloading loop. I look it up and NO ONE seems to know what is happening. Clearing the cache - all that - nothing works. A couple weeks later, it happens to me, and I immediately notice something new - a new extension has been installed, a big green "M" in the upper right hand side. McAfee decided I needed their "safe browsing extension" (something I NEVER want), and the safe browsing extension seems to cause the gmail reload loop. I uninstalled it (just because I didn't want it) and immediately noticed that the gmail problem was resolved.

    Browser makers (well, google, and maybe mozilla) work really hard to make a kick ass, stable program, and then any jackass with some untested crap can auto-install whatever they want and bring it down. Skype, McAffee, these are supposed to be mature companies (well, some people hate McAfee, but whatever) yet they still pull BS shit (yes, two shits) like auto-installing something that isn't even stable. Or Apple installing safari automatically (but apple is already evil so that wasn't too much of a surprise).

    I really wish there were some way to make that illegal without just causing some big legal shithole. Really I just wish there was some code of honor that good software vendors would agree too - autoinstalling being something to avoid (or have a box that says "Do you want to install the Skype shitty toolbar" *making sure* to have a "don't ask me again" checkbox).

    This isn't 2003 and I don't want every toolbar you came up with installed on my machine!
    -Taylor

    • But creating add-ons for Firefox is cool so they have to do it to look hip.

      (I think I'm repeating myself.)

    • by jack2000 (1178961)
      We should just make a foundation that goes around and sues companies that make auto installing toolbars, maybe hire some layers to pull them through the mud, using despicable legal tricks to stall the case and cost them money.
      Small claims court cases submitted out of town or to a minor employee so when they ignore it you autowin.
      • We should just make a foundation that goes around and sues companies that make auto installing toolbars, maybe hire some layers to pull them through the mud, using despicable legal tricks to stall the case and cost them money.
        Small claims court cases submitted out of town or to a minor employee so when they ignore it you autowin.

        Yeah, that's not that bad of an idea. I hate that kind of shit, but that's kind of what the companies are asking for when they ignore user rights. They go sleezy, we go sleezy. So much nowadays, people will walk all over you unless some lawyer scares them away from it.
        -Taylor

    • by Damek (515688)

      I pretty much agree. I hate installing Adobe Reader and how it puts toolbars all over everything.

      It would be nice if browsers like Firefox and Chrome could monitor installed extensions and only activate ones the user approves. Both Chrome and Firefox already warn you that extensions can harm your computer, and require you to confirm installation of ones you want to download and install. Shouldn't they be able to notice when a new extension has been installed that hasn't been approved by the user, and prompt

    • I really wish there were some way to make that illegal without just causing some big legal shithole.

      I don't think there's any need to get the police involved. Why is the Mozilla configuration writable to the Skype installer? That's a huge security hole. Fix that first.

      • I really wish there were some way to make that illegal without just causing some big legal shithole.

        I don't think there's any need to get the police involved. Why is the Mozilla configuration writable to the Skype installer? That's a huge security hole. Fix that first.

        Yeah, I don't really want it to be illegal, because laws like that are just going to make things worse, I just know that this kind of thing isn't likely to go away any other way (and it may not be that likely even if it was illegal).

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Why is the Mozilla configuration writable to the Skype installer?

        Because the installer requires admin privileges, which means it can write to pretty much any file on the machine? On Windows, anyway.

        If you give a random program root privileges you shouldn't be too surprised when it trashes your system.

  • did I get asked for this? noooooo.
    all extensions not explicitely allowed by the user should be disabled.
  • Dear Mozilla (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday January 21, 2011 @05:28PM (#34959192)
    Please disable all toolbars by default. When the user logs in, pop up a page that says:

    "This program tried to install a toolbar, you probably don't need it and it's probably full of ads. The nephew you always call when you have computer trouble would seriously be mad if you enable it. Would you like to enable it at this time? If so, please type in 'yes, I'd like to be inundated with ads and malware please' in the box bellow."
  • After having Firefox crash several times because of it. I removed it. I never used it, and don't miss it. Most Skype users won't.
  • I like Skype and use it often, but I have never once used it from within FF. They gave me a dollar credit a few weeks ago in apology for the big outage they had, which honestly didn't affect me in the least. I thought that was a lot nicer than the usual corporate stonewalling of "some of our users may be experiencing minor difficulties..." But I don't or trust toolbars from anyone, and I always disable them.
  • Never had it try to automatically install a toolbar in my Firefox or my Chrome in OS X.
    Doesn't look like it stuck anything in Safari, either, but since I never use that, I wouldn't care.

    You people and your OS centricism.

  • Firefox running faster and not crashing?

    Quelle horreur!

  • Not having an apoplectic stroke when I find out that Skype is fucking with my Firefox -- now that's a ramification I can live with.
  • Normally I operate on a "no toolbars!" principle, but I tried it to see what it did. I wasn't impressed when Chrome began crashing irregularly. I recommend people uninstall it pronto, if you are suffering from Chrome crashes.

  • I hate when flash or adobe reader or java updates then asks me everytime if I want some stupid toolbar they are pushing for whatever company. It's just like every program that wants to add something in the sys tray or in start-up so that it "launches faster".

    I think just about everyone is fine with using the search bars included with whatever browser you use and everyone is fine with it taking 10 seconds longer for a program to load and skip the 30 second slow down that happens at boot for some stupid prog

It is better to give than to lend, and it costs about the same.

Working...