Mac users who install Oracle's Java are finding it comes with unwanted baggage: the Ask Search toolbar that many call adware, bloatware or worse. The toolbar has long appeared as a sponsor offering with Java for Windows, but it's recently started appearing in the Mac version as well.
MalwareTips describes the Ask toolbar's search function as a "browser hijacker" that can reset a user's browser homepage and default search engine. The adware also skews search results by displaying ads and sponsored links.
Oracle and other companies earn revenues by bundling such sponsor offerings with their software. In its 2014 Annual Report filed in February, IAC -- Ask.com's parent company -- reported paying $883 million last year in traffic acquisition costs and "payments made to partners who distribute our B2B customized browser-based applications, integrate our paid listings into their Web sites or direct traffic to our Web sites." The company's other brands include Investopedia, OKCupid, The Daily Beast and Tinder.
The news that Java for Mac now comes with Ask's adware is riling many users, especially in light of the recent black eye Lenovo received for shipping PCs preloaded with adware. In Lenovo's case, the adware called Superfish not only served up unwanted advertising but left devices vulnerable to "man-in-the-middle" attacks by hackers.
Lenovo responded quickly by issuing an apology and promising to stop preloading unnecessary software onto its PCs. "This should eliminate what our industry calls 'adware' and 'bloatware,'" the company said in a statement.
Windows users have long criticized Oracle for including adware such as Ask's with Java. "The inclusion of adware such as the Ask Toolbar in the Java installer pollutes the user experience for all Java-based programs and delegitimizes Java as a viable programming language for production grade software," wrote one user on...