Mozilla is taking steps to protect users from programs that install add-ons in Firefox without user permission, citing numerous reasons including security concerns and the desire to make sure that the person using Firefox has ultimate control of the add-ons installed.
Two new features will be making their debut in Firefox 8, currently on the Firefox nightly channel but planned to move to the Aurora developer's build early next week. The first feature automatically disables add-ons added to Firefox by other programs. When you start Firefox after the add-on has been installed, a notification window prompts users to either activate the add-on or ignore it.
The second feature kicks in the first time Firefox runs after upgrading to version 8. It goes through your add-ons and sorts them into two categories: ones you've installed, and add-ons from third-party programs. All active add-ons that you have installed will be kept active, while all third-party add-ons will be de-activated unless you choose to re-activate them. As an additional level of protection against unwanted de-activation, the feature will offer a confirmation list of the add-ons you want killed.
Mozilla said in a blog post announcing the features that it sees 1.5 million add-ons downloaded daily, and noted that while add-ons create new features, they can also hamstring the browser's performance. Not unlike Microsoft taking steps to get users to upgrade beyond Internet Explorer 6, Mozilla appears to be interested in getting people to think about the add-ons they've installed and deactivating or uninstalling the unused ones.
Assuming development goes according to plan, Firefox 8 will reach the stable channel, the broadest base of Firefox users, on or around September 27.