Apple Software Update: Software Distribution

I previously wrote about how Apple pushed Safari out as an update to iTunes and why this was wrong. Of course, this caused some problems for network administrators:

Because of the way Apple had configured the update, anyone who clicked OK automatically installed the company’s Web browser. Most users thought that Safari was simply a component of the Apple software they’d already installed, Wilson said.

“This is not good; this is a security risk,” he said. “We’re a bank.”

Wilson said it has taken him the better part of a week to remove Safari from his network and prevent it from being reinstalled.

To try and appease the critics, Apple has added a new pane to it’s Software Updates marking New Software separately. Many people have welcomed this move but there are still major issues. Firstly, new software is still checked automatically. For the vast majority of people who do not have the time to worry about something like a security update, they will still end up with software they didn’t want.

Secondly: the fact that Apple has added a new pane showing all New Software indicates to me that Apple plans to use this as a software distribution channel. That indicates to me that the release of Safari through Software Update isn’t a one-off: it’s a new software distribution channel for Apple.

Users of Apple Software: iTunes, Safari and Quicktime should expect to see additional unwanted applications from Apple appearing on their computer soon.

Apple EULA forbid install of Safari on Windows

This is pretty funny. Apparently after Apple installed Safari through the backdoor on millions of computers, it turns out the EULA for Safari actually said that users are only permitted to install Safari on “a single Apple-labeled computer at a time.” In other words, it’s illegal to install “Safari for Windows” on a Windows computer.

Now, if everybody has indeed installed “Safari for Windows” knowingly in the ways that Apple fans claim: users read through the dialogs and specifically choose to install Safari, it is a surprise that it has taken a week for somebody to notice this clause in the EULA. I mean, if a couple of million of people have agreed to a license they obviously haven’t read (and this clause is near the top), what are the chances that anybody even bothered reading the software update dialog, finding out what Safari even was and whether they wanted it on their computer?

The EULA has been updated since this story broke.

Apple Safari Backdoor Install "Wrong"

Since I wrote about Apple installing Safari on people’s computers through the backdoor on Thursday, there has been a lot of reaction.

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.

Apple pushes Safari as iTunes Update

CyberNet News reports on Apple pushing Safari 3.1 on Windows as an update to everybody who has iTunes installed. Now fair enough pushing an update to Safari for people who’ve installed it. But to people who haven’t? Steve Jobs said:

How are we going to distribute this? We don’t really talk to these customers, do we? There are over 500,000 downloads of Firefox a day. What are we going to do? Well, it turns out, there are over 1 million downloads of iTunes a day. As a matter of fact, there have been over a half a billion downloads of iTunes to Windows Machines. Over half a billion. And so we know how to reach these customers and we are going to do exactly that.

So I wouldn’t be surprised if we see 500 million copies of Safari for Windows installed soon. Whether anybody will use it and whether this is an ethical thing to do given that Firefox has gained it’s users through word of mouth and actually being a better product is another question.

Apple UK 'Get a Mac' Adverts

Shame on you Apple. Shame on you.

The “I’m a PC, I’m a Mac” campaign has been localized for the UK. Whereas the American edition features the legendary John Hodgeman as PC and the rather annoying Justin Long as Mac, the British version features Mitchell and Webb.

As a long time fan and dedicated follower of the US campaign, I do much prefer the American version. Anyone have any views?

Mac Spoofs

If you love the campaign, you’ll also love the spoofs and parodies (see links down left). I love the iBox spoof.

Sony Vaio’s take on the advert is great too…