Microsoft ‘Accidentally’ Deleting Google Chrome from Windows

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Oh no they didn’t (but oh yes they did): Microsoft’s antiviral software’s been “accidentally” wiping Google Chrome off the face of the map, or at least from the hard drives of several users’ Windows-based computers.

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 realtime antivirus and malware scanning under one rooftop. In the splashy marketing slides on the product site, Microsoft calls it “anti-annoying.”

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Except for the part where it’s been annoying the heck out of Google Chrome users, since it’s been disabling or outright zapping the browser from Windows PCs, mistaking Chrome for a trojan horse. Oops.

“I have been using Chrome on my office PC for over a year. This morning, after I started up the PC, a Windows Security box popped up and said I had a Security Problem that needed to be removed,” wrote one user on Google Chrome’s official message board last Friday.

“I clicked the Details button and saw that it was ‘PWS:Win32/Zbot’,” continues the user. “I clicked the Remove button and restarted my PC. Now I do not have Chrome. It has been removed or uninstalled. The Chrome.exe file is gone. Was there really a problem, or is this just a way for Microsoft to stick it to Google?”

Microsoft’s not mincing words about the screwup, admitting that “On September 30th, 2011, an incorrect detection for PWS: Win32/Zbot was identified and, as a result, Google Chrome was inadvertently blocked and in some cases removed from customers PCs.”

The company says it’s “already fixed the issue,” so there’s that. All’s fair in love and occasional incompetence? Browse on, Chrome users, browse on.

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Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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