Mozilla blocks Skype toolbar in Firefox

Mozilla has seen some shocking statistics regarding the ever-growing internet phone application, Skype. When Skype is installed, it also will include an extension for Firefox to help integrate some features into web pages. This is a good concept. However, multiple flaws exist in the extension that cause Firefox to crash or slow down.

Skype's toolbar extension detects phone numbers within web pages and transforms them into a clickable link which will then dial the number from the Skype desktop application. Since anyone who installs Skype also installs the extension by default, a large number of users have it and, according to Mozilla's list of top crashers for the latest stable version of Firefox, 3.6.13, Skype ranks up in second place, causing almost 40,000 crashes just last week.

Mozilla outlined the issues in a blog post, noting that in addition to crashes, the method that the Skype toolbar uses "to detect and re-render phone numbers can make DOM manipulation up to 300 times slower, which drastically affects the page rendering times of a large percentage of web content served today (plain English: to the user, it appears that Firefox is slow loading web pages). "

The browser giant's solution was to add all versions of the Skype Toolbar to the Mozilla Firefox Blocklist, which is a list of extensions that should not be used with Firefox. The entry made in the blocklist is a "soft block" where, simply speaking, the toolbar will be disabled automatically with a message displayed to the user alerting them of the block and its cause, but still giving them the option to re-enable it.

Mozilla wishes to note that only the toolbar within Firefox will be blocked, not the desktop application in any way. They have contacted the Skype Toolbar developers and will be working with them to correct the issues to allow the extension back into Firefox.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Win 8 hits retail in January 2013, Win 7 SP2 in 2012 and other info leaks out

Next Story

Hell Freezes Over: Duke Nukem Forever Available Worldwide May 6th

47 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I got tired of uninstalling the sky extension every update. So I don't now. I don't install it. Gtalk for me. Thanks, Skype, for driving me away.

Fire fox crashes ? So what is new?

Firefox is turning out to be a sine wave with each new update/upgrade. Alternating between very good to horrible.

I am currently using version 3.6.13 for Windows without Skype extensions and it still crashes. Half the time it cannot come to foreground with alt+tab. I very regularly have to kill the process using IBPROCMAN. In fact I have had to it pin it to my quicklaunch bar.

I continue to use it simply because I NEED some of the extensions - not YET available in Chrome .

*hugs Opera* lol
But serious, Skype is a royal pain in the butt...The whole service is. I haven't had anything except trouble with it. I wonder how long it will take them to fix the toolbar...

Jonessie said,
All browsers should block toolbars they are a they are a pain in the backside.
We should block silly comments like yours

Is Skype still based/being developed out of Estonia? That would actually explain a lot.

> They have contacted the Skype Toolbar developers and will be working with them to correct the issues to allow the extension back into Firefox.

That's a bit late, isn't it?

Well, bundeled toolbars suck, I love how IE9 tells you that toolbars slow down the browser and "Would you like to disable one or more". how about all?

And one thing that all browser should have is a "protect settings"-setting. so that only the user can change things like the home page.

morphen said,
Well, bundeled toolbars suck, I love how IE9 tells you that toolbars slow down the browser and "Would you like to disable one or more". how about all?

And one thing that all browser should have is a "protect settings"-setting. so that only the user can change things like the home page.


Yeah, and not only does IE9 tell you that toolbars slow down the browser, it gives you a ranked list of the slow toolbars and the time required to load each. Very nice.

I'm glad Mozilla are dealing with this. I never accept to install the Skype add-on because I mainly use Skype for its IM functions: not its ability to read phone numbers on web pages. I'm ecstatic I didn't choose to install the Skype toolbar when I was offered by the program this time. I like Skype for its IM but it is still not perfect in that area either; I downgraded to Skype 3 due to a dislike for Skype 4 and 5.

I noticed that firefox 4.0.10 preview crashes often too. they are not ready for final version, maybe they will delay the final version of firefox 4 until they fixed the bugs. I don't trust firefox anymore.

gameboy1977 said,
I noticed that firefox 4.0.10 preview crashes often too. they are not ready for final version, maybe they will delay the final version of firefox 4 until they fixed the bugs. I don't trust firefox anymore.

Funny. I haven't had a single crash with Minefield since beta 8.

Magallanes said,

i bet:ie9 + crappy toolbar = crash


In IE9 the toolbar will run in a sandbox, thus creating the following.
IE9 + crappy toolbar = toolbar crashes, IE9 continues to run

Very poorly coded extensions which is not so easy to opt out during installation.

Firefox had given the right decision imo.

epple said,
External installations of toolbars should be prohibited considering how shady most of the installers are with them. I'd rather see them available strictly through https://addons.mozilla.org/, if you want one.
I believe this is something they're looking into - at least more restrictions on being able to install toolbars outside of Firefox.

epple said,
External installations of toolbars should be prohibited considering how shady most of the installers are with them. I'd rather see them available strictly through https://addons.mozilla.org/, if you want one.

FF certainly needs a prompt to install, and they also need to prevent addons from being non-uninstallable. The "Microsoft Default Manager" for example, has been blocked for as long as I can remember, but I don't see why I can't uninstall it from Firefox (I know I can uninstall it via add/remove programs, but that's moot).

Ci7 said,
wish browser leaders just ban toolbars

those little pesky ****** :@

While I hate browser toolbars too, I don't want them to go away because the bundling helps to support people that write various pieces of Freeware (Foxit reader, CCleaner, etc). Even if I don't install them .

I'm not really that surprised that Skype's toolbar is causing all of that considering how many issues I run into on the application itself.

Try as you might Chrome still owns Firefox (speed-wise at least). That said, the Skype toolbar extensions are indeed a horror story - I have been specifically doing a custom install to make sure they are not installed for years now.

Breach said,
Try as you might Chrome still owns Firefox (speed-wise at least). That said, the Skype toolbar extensions are indeed a horror story - I have been specifically doing a custom install to make sure they are not installed for years now.

I modify the Skype installer as well to just install the Phone components.

Breach said,
Try as you might Chrome still owns Firefox (speed-wise at least). That said, the Skype toolbar extensions are indeed a horror story - I have been specifically doing a custom install to make sure they are not installed for years now.
Honestly that may be true, but the differences are negligible. If you put them on a graph they look dramatic, but you're talking in time that's less than a second in many cases.

So I will take my ultimately more usability in Firefox and a speed difference that is negligible in terms of human quantification, and pass on Chrome.

Sorry - the start-up AND rendering performance difference is VERY noticeable to me - I wouldn't call the difference negligible. I was a FF user for years. Switched to Chrome and haven't looked back. Sure, I don't get all the fancy extensions etc. but 99% of the what matters is browsing (loading, rendering) speed.

Breach said,
Sorry - the start-up AND rendering performance difference is VERY noticeable to me - I wouldn't call the difference negligible. I was a FF user for years. Switched to Chrome and haven't looked back. Sure, I don't get all the fancy extensions etc. but 99% of the what matters is browsing (loading, rendering) speed.

How about you quit trolling in a thread that has zip all to do with Chrome vs Firefox fanboyism and stay on topic?

Majesticmerc said,

How about you quit trolling in a thread that has zip all to do with Chrome vs Firefox fanboyism and stay on topic?

But I am staying on topic "(plain English: to the user, it appears that Firefox is slow loading web pages)." - it's all about keeping Firefox's market share and the fact that Skype makes Firefox less stable and much slower. And I am saying that Skype's add-ons are definitely crap, but even without them Chrome is still flying higher, much higher. There's no fanboyism involved here so chill.

Breach said,

But I am staying on topic "(plain English: to the user, it appears that Firefox is slow loading web pages)." - it's all about keeping Firefox's market share and the fact that Skype makes Firefox less stable and much slower. And I am saying that Skype's add-ons are definitely crap, but even without them Chrome is still flying higher, much higher. There's no fanboyism involved here so chill.

he sounds like a kid: "no ma! I'm really not a fanboy!"