Mozilla CEO bemoans Apple’s use of Software Update to suggest Safari to iTunes users

“What Apple is doing now with their Apple Software Update on Windows is wrong,” John Lilly, Mozilla CEO, blogs. “It undermines the trust relationship great companies have with their customers, and that’s bad — not just for Apple, but for the security of the whole Web. What they did yesterday was to use their updater for iTunes to also install their Safari Web browser…”

MacDailyNews Take: No, that’s not what Apple did. What Apple did was present the user an option to install and/or update Safari. Users did not have Safari installed and/or updated if they did not want it. That said, Apple should not use the word “update” for all users. Apple should change the nomenclature depending on whether or not Safari is actually installed on the PC. Say “install” if it’s to be an install and say “update” if it’s to be an update. If that single, minor change were to be made, we’d have no problem whatsoever with Apple using Apple Software Update on Windows PCs to offer new software while updating existing Apple apps, including having the “install/update” box pre-selected. However, stating “update” for all users with the “install” box pre-selected, as Apple is doing currently, is unnecessarily obtuse and could be interpreted as an attempt to deceive; in other words: Microsoftian. And, let’s face facts, Windows sufferers in general aren’t the brightest bulbs in the pack; they need all the clarity they can get.

Lilly continues, “Anyone who uses iTunes on Windows has Apple Software Update installed on their machines, which… checks for new patches available for Apple-produced software on your Windows machine, alerts the user to the availability, and allows updates to be installed. That’s great — wonderful, in fact. Makes everyone more likely to have current, patched versions of Apple’s software, and makes everyone safer… The problem here is that it lists Safari for getting an update — and has the ‘Install’ box checked by default — even if you haven’t ever installed Safari on your PC.”

MacDailyNews Take: Agreed.

Lilly continues, “The likely behavior here is for users to just click “Install 2 items,” which means that they’ve now installed a completely new piece of software, quite possibly completely unintentionally. 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.”

MacDailyNews Take: Doh! (Disingenuous overstated hyperbole!) So, Lilly’s not the least bit worried that users might like the much-faster and more elegant Safari over other browsers, including his own? We find that very difficult to believe.

Full blog post here.

MacDailyNews Take: The fear is palpable. Hundreds of millions of iTunes software downloads will do that to you. You can almost hear the beads of sweat dripping on his keyboard.

That said, we repeat: Apple should change the nomenclature depending on whether or not Safari is actually installed on the PC. Say “install” if it’s to be an install and say “update” if it’s to be an update.

And, finally, as we said yesterday: It’s about damned time Apple leveraged those iTunes for Windows installs to help spread the word. There also ought to be a big permanent link to the “Move to Mac” and related videos right in the middle of iTunes’ home page. It’s pedal to the metal time now. Let’s go!


  1. Well, the first thing he needs to do is go and lie down in a dark room and get a grip.

    And the second thing he needs to do is try and download Acrobat on Windows without having the Google Toolbar installed – it’s been a default option for somewhile if I recall correctly.

    I know that the simple things in life are becoming increasingly difficult for some people, but this is simple reading and comprehension on a freakin’ dialog box: if you want it, keep it checked. If you don’t, uncheck it. It really is that simple.

    Of course, we are talking about people who continue to purchase Windows despite all the negative press over the years so maybe the whole reading comprehension thing is a bit of problem…

  2. I don’t think this is a problem. Safari is a tool in the arsenal of the average Internet combatant these days, as is Firefox. Firefox is standard on every Mac I configure for people now. Firefox is out there in the consciousness of the average computer users. People who would be hard pressed to identify the computer in a room full of toasters know about Firefox.

    I have discussed what a joy the Firefox beta is with lots of folks.

  3. LMAO!!!!!

    How DARE Apple offer the option to install software like 90% of all other vendors! The audacity! And the temerity of actually assuming folks would want this update by PRE-CHECKING the install box. Ooooooh, so tricky! Like EVERYONE doesn’t already do this! Oh, wait a minute, everyone already DOES do this…

    Never mind. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  4. Look everyone! It’s quite simple…Apple is just adhering to the Human Interface Guidelines that Microsoft dictates for the Windows OS. This is seems shocking to a Mac user… Under Windows it’s common practice and actually encouraged!

  5. This is NOT bordering on malicious malware distribution practices. First, the user is FULLY INFORMED that Safari is new software that will be installed on their PCs. Malware doesn’t alert you with a nice box, saying “You’re about to install a spyware program which will send me your bank account info.” and giving you the option to uncheck a box to not install it.

    Apple provides WAY more information about updates for users than Windows does anyway.

  6. @No way!

    I use Camino. I love Camino. It’s very fast, and until I tried the beta of Firefox 3, I would have said *the fastest* browser on OS X. When I set up computers, I often add Camino as well. The web is so goofy these days, I find the more browsers you have the more likely you are to find one that might work on a problematic website. Sadly, there’s a ton of people out there still building websites as if Internet Explorer were the only game in town. I get sick of people complaining as if it is a problem with the Mac and not a problem with the site developers.

  7. Yeah right, people who don’t pay attention, probably will install Safari inadvertently, but people who don’t pay attention will get hit by a truck also, should we put stop signs every 10 feet so no one inadvertently gets hurt? How about people use that hatrack they
    have sitting on their shoulders for a change?

  8. @ MDN

    While, fundamentally, I understand your single objection over this whole thing; I think that you are needlessly obsessing over semantics.

    First of all, as has been evidenced time and again, people never bother to actually read anything. Of the handful who actually do, most of those can’t sufficiently comprehend what they are seeing. The select few that remain who can and do both read and understand things will have no issue deselecting installs that they don’t want and or need.

    The rest of the yuks out there may end up installing Safari without paying attention, but why is that a big deal? It isn’t malicious, and if they don’t want to use it, they don’t have to. At the same time, many of these same people might discover a truly elegant piece of software they otherwise may have been forever ignorant of if the check box was off by default.

    Finally, It should be pointed out that Apple’s Software Update does the same thing on OSX, and you don’t hear anyone pitching a bitch over that.

  9. “There also ought to be a big permanent link to the “Move to Mac” and related videos right in the middle of iTunes’ home page. It’s pedal to the metal time now. Let’s go!”

    I agree with this take 100% !

  10. People have such a double standard when it comes to Apple. I installed Windows XP SP2 on my laptop and right off the bat Windows Update asked me if I wanted to install IE 7. Where is the outrage about that? Why is it so much more offensive when Apple’s software update asks you if you want to install Safari?

  11. Sometimes I do updates and install software WITHOUT anyone telling me to, or without the Software Update program asking me to.

    Living on the edge…

    I would see a problem with it if Apple was FORCING people to download Safari. Instead, they are simply advertising, using their installer, which, I believe many folks do with their software packages.

  12. Yes! My uncle has an El Camino with a whip antennae and curb feelers. He dropped a Craig 8-Track system in that bad boy along with a brass headboard opposite the rear window from his gunrack.

    With the spotlights on the roof and ample room in the back, it is the perfect deer AND chick ‘Huntin’ Mobile’.

    And with the nitro, we can surf the turf from fire to foxes without a hitch, which it also has….

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