In these unhappy days where Oracle is working hard to regain the trust of users, it seems a staggeringly bad idea that the Java updater installs the Ask toolbar by default. It's plainly bad for Java and can't possibly be worth the few clams in additional revenue. If you agree, sign the petition!

These are unhappy days for desktop Java. Java is under constant attack by hackers. Operating systems and browsers now disable Java by default. (Just yesterday, I had a Webex call and for the life of me, I could not find out how to get Webex—which uses Java—to work in Firefox. We switched to Flash-based Adobe Connect instead.)

Could it get worse? Sadly, yes. The Windows installer for the JRE now installs crapware by default.

This may have been going on for a while. I don't really know. On Linux, I just run tar xvfz ~/Downloads/jdk-7u*.tar.gz ever so often (which apparently is a challenge to many). And the JDK installer, which I run ever so often, doesn’t seem to do this.

Now I don't know whether the Ask toolbar is actually evil, but it certainly is unloved. So, where is the win? Right now, people don't trust Java very much. Oracle is working hard to regain trust by providing timely security updates. Why undermine that effort? You don’t earn people’s trust by “recommending” to install stuff that they are likely to hate.

I feel particularly strongly about this because many students need to use Java-based software. You can't expect students to parse and question every screen of every installer. For example, here is the first screen of the JDK installer:

Should students have to worry whether it is bad that the JavaFX SDK is now included as part of the JDK? Should instructors have to reinstall Java every few weeks to see what might trip up their students next?

Come on, Oracle. Tear down this toolbar!

If you agree, please sign this petition to help things along.