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2 June, 2009

Assisting .NET Framework's departure

A while ago, a standard monthly Windows Update installed a Firefox add-on, without (informed) consent and without the option to remove it.  Needless to say, I wasn't impressed: neither by Microsoft's action nor Mozilla's failure to prevent what has to be a significant vulnerability.

Specifically, MS installed a '.NET Framework Assistant' add-on; I'm not entirely sure what it does and, frankly, don't remotely care. It's uninvited, so it's not staying, on principle. The problem was that it was installed on an 'all users' basis whereas Firefox's Add-ons manager operates on a 'per user' basis, which means the 'Uninstall' button was greyed-out.

The Register reports that the offending MS utility has been updated, and can be uninstalled, though for some reason the newer version isn't being pushed out via Windows Update so those wanting to remove the unwanted software will need to visit an obscure page on MS's website.

Once per computer:

  • Follow the instructions there, checking your copy of Windows has the prerequisite other updates, then downloading and installing the update.
  • Reboot.
Once per user:
  • Open Firefox. '.NET Framework Assistant v.1.1' will be installed, but you'll need to restart Firefox for it to take effect.
  • Open 'Add-ons', find '.NET Framework Assistant', and hit 'Uninstall'.
  • Never use Windows Update again.
I'm joking about the last stage – that'd be dangerous – but it is a temptation. As with Apple's abuse of its Software Update utility, if users can't trust an official facility to provide only essential updates – not additional software the company would like users to install, only software the user needs – and to not modify other organisations' software there's a risk people will skip the genuinely important updates too.

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