Google updates Chrome to restore browser after Microsoft blunder

Releases new editions to assist recovery efforts after malware signature deleted Chrome

Google updated Chrome over the weekend to help users affected by Microsoft's errant flagging of the browser as malware.

New versions of Chrome for both the "stable" and "beta" channels were released Saturday, the day after Microsoft's antivirus products identified Chrome as the Zeus botnet Trojan, and deleted the "chrome.exe" file on some users' Windows PCs.

Although Microsoft re-released an antivirus definition file within hours of the Friday snafu, scores of Chrome users reported that they were unable to reinstall the browser or that if they had, they had lost their browser bookmarks.

Google responded later Friday with a blog post that spelled out the steps Chrome users had to take to restore the browser.

The Saturday updates were released to assist that process, a Google spokeswoman said in an email reply to questions today.

"The team rolled out another update of the Chrome stable and beta builds to ensure that users who may have had their Chrome executable deleted due to the faulty [Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus] updater would receive a new update of Chrome," the spokeswoman said.

According to the spokeswoman, the Chrome updates made moot the manual uninstall-reinstall process that Google had outlined the day before.

"We rolled out new builds so that assuming [users'] MSE tools were updated and they received the new Chrome exe[cutable], their browser would be restored," she added.

Computerworld replicated Security Essentials' error by manually deleting chrome.exe, but even after Chrome's Saturday update had trouble reinstalling the browser in Windows 7. Only after uninstalling the remainder of Chrome -- using Windows 7's "Uninstall or change a program" Control Panel app -- was Computerworld able to download the update and restore Google's browser.

Microsoft has not replied to questions about the impact of its goof on Chrome's bookmarks, but Google implied that the reports of vanishing bookmarks could be explained by users erroneously checking a box during the manual uninstallation process.

"Bookmarks, etc. should remain unless users checked the box 'Also delete your browsing data?' during the manual uninstall/reinstall," the Google spokeswoman said.

On Friday, Microsoft said its initial telemetry indicated that approximately 3,000 Chrome users had been affected by the flawed antivirus update. It also apologized for the fiasco.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

From CIO: 8 Free Online Courses to Grow Your Tech Skills
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies