Older versions of the Ask.com toolbar will be automatically identified as malware and removed by Microsoft security programs as part of a larger effort to banish unwanted software, the company said in an advisory.
Last month the company said that Windows Defender, Microsoft Security Essentials and Microsoft Security will now target programs that use browser search protection in a release. Browser and search protection code are used by programs like the Ask.com toolbar to make it difficult to change or remove default settings and browser functions.
These programs will be detected as "unwanted software" regardless of the whether or not the code is active.
Last year the tech giant said that it will change its evaluation criteria to recognize products as malware if they prevent or limit users' control over their browser search settings. To avoid detection, developers are urged to remove all search prevention code from their software.
Microsoft confirmed in a release that the newest version of Ask.com toolbar won't be considered malware, it's actions only apply to older versions.
A limited number of outdated Ask.com toolbars still include the legacy search protection feature, which alerts users to third party software attempting to change their settings. Microsoft recommended that users who suspect that their toolbars are outdated restart their browsers and to see if they have the current working version.