UPDATE: Here’s the official word from Yahoo spokesperson Terrell Karlsten. They’re claiming they don’t upgrade users to IE7 and their reasons for switching your settings? Everyone else does it.
Yahoo! Messenger’s update process does not download IE7 to a user’s computer. As part of the Yahoo! Messenger update process, people have the choice to download Yahoo! Toolbar, set Yahoo.com as their homepage and set Yahoo! Search as their search engine. This is an industry-wide practice….IE7 is not bundled into the Yahoo! Messenger update process.
UPDATE 2: Jarrod’s added a comment that suggests that IE7 was not added as part of the download, as he first described to us. All other aspects described below are known to be accurate, including changing the default browser to IE, changing the default homepage to Yahoo and changing the default search engine to Yahoo. The post has been updated.
The power struggle between Yahoo and Google for your desktop just took an evil turn, with evidence that suggests Yahoo is covertly trying to switch Google search users without their explicit permission.
Over email, Jarrod Hunt of Text Link Brokers explained how a recent upgrade to Yahoo Messenger includes an innocuous â€œauto-updateâ€ option. When the user gives Yahoo permission to â€œupdateâ€ â€“ what they think is just Yahoo Messenger â€“
the updater downloads IE 7 (which we already know to be buggy) and then proceeds to hijack many browser preferences â€“ including search engine settings.
The updaterâ€™s first sneaky switch is to associate all web links to IE instead of the userâ€™s default browser â€“ in Jarrodâ€™s case all links started opening in IE instead of Firefox. The next step in the process is an ambiguous error message saying your search settings have been changed and would you like to either â€œfix settingsâ€ or â€œallow changeâ€. Thinking you are about to have your browser settings switched away from your default; most users â€“ like Jarrod – will click â€œfix settingsâ€. Upon doing so, theyâ€™ll find their homepage is now switched to Yahoo as the default!
If you think thatâ€™s sneaky, wait until you see what happens next!
Not only does Yahoo hijack your homepage, it also switches IEâ€™s default search engine to Yahoo, without permission. Jarrod didnâ€™t even realize that this had changed until the Google Toolbar displayed a warning that an attempt had been made to switch the default search engine from Google to Yahoo.
Can you believe that such a battle is going on for your search settings? Is Yahoo deliberately using old-school spyware tactics to try and win new users, are they that desperate?
Iâ€™m emailing Yahoo for a response. Maybe theyâ€™ll blame Microsoft on this one, maybe itâ€™s an isolated incident. Or, maybe it is what it is â€“ a battle for your browser, which just turned a little more sinister.