Mozilla CEO John Lilly said:
Apple has made it incredibly easy–the default, even–for users to install ride along software that they didn’t ask for, and maybe didn’t want. This is wrong, and borders on malware distribution practices.
It’s wrong because it undermines the trust that we’re all trying to build with users. Because it means that an update isn’t just an update, but is maybe something more. Because it ultimately undermines the safety of users on the Web by eroding that relationship. It’s a bad practice and should stop.
I certainly agree with the assessment that it borders on malware distribution. I remember installing GoZilla! or some kind of file download manager on my Windows 95 PC when I saw it recommended in a computer magazine. Little did I know, a spyware application was bundled with the program. After that incident, I disabled Windows Update and started installing all my updates manually. It wasn’t until I switched to XP did I finally allow my system to download updates but I still wanted to know what was being installed before it completed the process.
I know that Safari isn’t a piece of malware. It’s a nice little browser: very fast, standards-compliant. But let people decide that: tell them about Safari so they can install it and then use it. Don’t distribute it through an automatic update system where it’ll probably won’t benefit Safari at all… users won’t know it’s there and Safari gets a reputation as bundled malware.
It has been argued that IM distributors such as MSN and Yahoo also bundle toolbars, etc. That’s true. But they ask you whether you want to do it during the installation process where you expect new applications to be added. And you give the green light for the toolbars to be installed. With Apple’s Software Update, I certainly do not expect a new piece of software to appear on the computer.