The mid- to late-90s seemed to be the heyday of software vendors deciding that if you ran one of their products, you’d want a bunch more as well. In my opinion, it was not Microsoft, but Real, that typified this behavior and annoyed me greatly.
Even when all I wanted was their media player, it seemed I was stuck with their little message center and other crap. Turning it all OFF was a pain in the rectum, and in my opinion should never have been necessary. It made me hate Real, and I’ve yet to install any more than the minimum software of theirs needed.
To a certain extent, this practice lives on in the form of checkboxes that say “Oh, I see you’re installing our utility, do you want me to create an icon for it in 23 different places, and also install six helper apps, and change your browser home page?” You can turn these OFF, but again it’s a pain. Still, since the user initiated the installation, I guess asking them for others that they have to implicitly turn off is not the worst of crimes.
Microsoft continues the practice in some ways by sneaking stuff under the radar with an automatic sustem update (especially a “security” update). They got WGA on systems this way, and also pulled this stunt on Internet Explorer 7.0.
Whatever. Such is the PC world, but Apple doesn’t play that game.
Much has been written about how the Apple Software Updater on Windows XP and Vista is now suggesting an “update” to Safari 3.1. This is amazing when you consider it’s doing this for people who were not running the older (beta) version of Safari. How exactly does one “update” what they’re not running?
Sorry, Apple, but I think you’re wrong here. Big time. Perhaps you thought other vendors do it so you can, too. Well, you’re not “other vendors”. At least, your image is not one of being just another vendor, so why act like it?
Or perhaps you thought PC users are used to this kind of stuff, so why not? I’d say even if they are used to it, they’re not used to it from you, and you will not endear yourself to those who already have a dislike for your company by offering new software under the guise of an “update”. I hate this sort of thing and, push come to shove, I think most other people do, too.
Finally, perhaps you figure that savvy people will ignore it, and only those not paying attention will get it installed, maybe use it, and maybe convert to Safari, etc. But this strategy is simply an attempt to take advantage of the unwary (certainly, that’s what Real was doing) and is all the more galling for it.
Yes, I’m aware that some people think Steve Jobs “promised” this. But in my opinion saying you’ll use iTunes to leverage Safari, and using your updater to do the dirty work, is not the same thing. If Apple believes new customers should come from those they can “trick” into installing their software, maybe their stock isn’t such a good buy after all.
[UPDATE:] I’ve posted a second look at this, based on some recent commentary here and elsewhere.