According to this article on InformationWeek, Mozilla’s CEO John Lilly called Apple’s latest move “wrong.”
So, what did Apple do?
Apple is distributing it’s own Safari web browser (Windows version) through it’s “Apple Software Update,” as an update, even though users may not want the software installed. The browser has it’s installation option checked for install with both the regular iTunes and Quicktime updates, even though the Safari update is not an upgrade, but a full new installation.
The Mozilla CEO calls this move “wrong.” I fully agree.
When I upgrade software, I want upgrades, not a new application. For most users used to just hitting “Install” in the Apple Software Update without really reviewing the updates will likely end up with the Safari web browser, regardless of whether they want it or not. I can understand that the Mozilla CEO is not happy with this distribution method, as most users will most likely install Safari, and then end up with a new web browser, instead of Mozilla’s competing Firefox web browser.
The problem I have with this method is that it really takes advantage of the situation among the 70% of media player users who use Apple’s own iPod. I seem to remember Microsoft pulling a similar trick with Microsoft Windows Genuine Advantage, which was used to check systems to see if they were “legal,” although the application has been argued to be adware, and all in the effort to get the software on users’ computers as silently as possible. Really, who wouldn’t want to get rid of Internet Explorer on their computer? Other browsers are more secure, easier to use, and lighter-weight on the system resources, but distributing software so quietly is sneaky… and kind of cheap. It is as if Safari is not good enough for Windows users to take notice, so they are going to try and sneak it by, giving users an almost assured test of the browser.
Apple, in this case, has taken advantage of it’s users to get it’s rather unpopular browser (on Windows) onto unsuspecting computers as quietly as possible. For those who may be interested, Firefox is doing rather well, and comes preinstalled on most Linux distributions, including Ubuntu. Also, for all of the Ubuntu and other Linux users out there, you do not need to worry about surprise applications making their way through your updates; you are safe. My recommendation is that you look through your updates before installing them, no matter which system you are using.
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