Java now loads annoying adware on Macs, too

(CNNMoney) — Lots of websites require your computer to use the program Java, but the latest update for Macs comes with annoying adware.

The update automatically installs a Web browser add-on for Ask.com. When you perform a search, Ask.com becomes your default option, replacing your preferred search engine (Google, Duck Duck Go, etc.)

Your browser homepage also becomes Ask.com — yet another uninvited annoyance.

Previously, only Windows users were subjected to this irritating practice. But now Apple Mac computers — celebrated for their clean, simple experience — are getting loaded up with the extra, unwanted software too.

There’s nothing nefarious about Ask.com on its own. But sneaking in an unnecessary add-on to someone’s computer is widely regarded as intrusive. This is the kind of thing that, over time, fills up a computer with undesired software that slows it down. That’s why it’s often called “bloatware.”

Oracle, which distributes Java, did not respond to requests for comment on Friday. ZDNet was the first to catch Oracle’s new policy.

The company did add the following to the “How do I install Java for my Mac” page:

Oracle has partnered with companies that offer various products. The installer may present you with the option to install these programs when you install Java. After ensuring the desired programs are selected, click the Next button to continue the installation.

If you’re careful when you update Java, you can avoid downloading the Ask.com bloatware by unchecking the option during the installation process. But the average person who quickly clicks through options will miss it. In that case, users can manually uninstall the software in each browser, and reset the homepage.

Users should have to opt in for extra software. But in this case Oracle is forcing users to opt out.

Companies are often criticized for trying this sort of thing. Major PC manufacturers are notorious for loading bloatware on their laptops at the factory. That’s why you get so many pop-ups with stupid programs you never use from Asus, Dell, HP and almost every other computer maker.

Recently, there has been a customer outcry about bloatware. In February, PC maker Lenovo was caught slipping ‘Superfish’ malware into its laptops and tablets. Superfish is an Internet browser add-on that injects ads onto websites you visit.

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