Microsoft Anti-Virus Software 'Accidentally' Deleted Google Chrome

By Erin Harrison October 03, 2011

It was an honest mistake, really.

Long recognized for its competition in the browser space, it appears that Microsoft’s anti-viral software has on occasion “accidentally” deleted Google Chrome from the hard drives of users’ Window-based computers, according to media reports. The software was apparently mistaking Chrome for a trojan horse.

“The trouble stems from a bug in the company’s antiviral security suite, an inconspicuous slice of software dubbed Microsoft Security Essentials. It’s a freebie utility that bundles real-time antivirus and malware scanning under one rooftop. In the splashy marketing slides on the product site, Microsoft calls it ‘anti-annoying,’” reported Time’s Techland.

But apparently, the product was in fact, annoying.

One user, “chasd. harris,” complained upon starting up their PC on Sept. 30, a Windows Security box popped up indicating a security problem that needed to be removed. 

“I clicked the Details button and saw that it was ‘PWS:Win32/Zbot.’  I clicked the Remove button and restarted my PC. Now I do not have Chrome,” Harris wrote on Chrome’s message board. “Was there really a problem, or is this just a way for Microsoft to stick it to Google?  If I reinstall Chrome, will it have my bookmarks and other settings?  Not sure what to do about this, but I much prefer Chrome to Explorer.”

Google employee Jacky H promptly replied Oct. 1 with this helpful tidbit:

1. Please be cautious when allowing exceptions in antivirus or protection software; there are legitimate trojans that are included in the MS Security update, Zbot included. 

2. Chrome was incorrectly identified as a Zbot by Microsoft as per their official messaging here:

3. Microsoft has released an update to MS Security that reverses this incorrect identification; this update is included in all MS security updates with the signature 1.113.672.0 and higher.

Within a few hours, Microsoft released an update that addresses the issue. Now that the issue has seemingly been rectified, Chrome fans can carry on as usual.

Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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