A Second Look: Apple Windows Updater, Safari 3.1, and You.

Yesterday I stated my position on Apple’s use of their Windows Software Updater to “update” Safari on systems that don’t run it. Many other bloggers, analysts, etc. posted their positions as well.

There’s been a lot of debate about it, so today I thought I’d take a second look by reviewing some of the recent commentary on this topic.

First, see the comments to my first post that since Apple means no harm, and other’s are doing it, then it’s OK. After all, this is to some extent the Windows world (with which I don’t disagree). But I touched on that in my post, and simply don’t think it’s a valid reason. Apple has made their way by not doing what others do, and I’m not sure they should change now.

Second, John Lily of Mozilla blogged about this. As you might expect, it’s not favorable. But Lily is a bit irrational when it comes to Safari on Windows. I’m sorry, but he lost credibility when he put on a tin foil hat and started babbling about “a world of tight control” when Apple simply introduced Safari for Windows in the first place! Given how he freaked out at just the product’s introduction, he must be wetting himself now.

Just as before, a public event (and free publicity) Lily could have used to promote Firefox was wasted. It turned into a lecture about “the trust relationship great companies have with their customers”. Have you seen the Customer Satisfaction scores for Apple, John? Have you noticed the brand loyalty? I’d say Apple “trust” is running pretty high right now. Maybe you should take notes.

Third, Paul Thurrott naturally drools all over Lily’s piece. Remember, Paul is objective about Apple (because he tells us so) so we can take his opinion seriously. The voice of reason, if you will. And yet, when he says stuff like this:

I’d also like you to silently imagine, for a moment, the outrage that would break out if Microsoft were to try something like this.

You have to puke. Paul, Microsoft did do this. Only worse. Silently. In the background. Under the guise of “security” updates. They did it with WGA, too. At least Apple makes you click ‘Install’ before it does anything.

It appears there are no limits to Paul’s shillness. Not that this would be a surprise to anyone who reads his stuff.

Fourth, Daring Fireball (and others) posed this question:

Would it make a difference is the checkbox for Safari were off by default instead?

A fair question. I’ve made remarks about how the current method relies on Apple “tricking” the user into the installation, or that it requires the user to be “asleep at the wheel”. If the box were not checked by default, then the user must specifically initiate an action to have the product installed — a big difference.

In this scenario, if the user is inattentive, or “asleep”, or even just blindly following the suggested “updates”, then Safari would not be installed. It seems to me this approach would have created a lot less furor. Unfortunately, it’s not the approach Apple took so we’ll never know.

Finally, Joe Wilcox has weighed in on this again. As his original post is the one that seems to have touched off this debate to begin with, it’s an interesting read.

Basically, Joe says since Microsoft does it, so should Apple:

Apple’s Safari distribution tactic is sheer brilliance. Apple is co-opting Microsoft’s monopoly product. Other developers shipping updaters should follow Apple’s approach.

Windows is the biggest software distribution mechanism on the planet… Microsoft pushes loads of full software products through Windows Update that aren’t already installed on the end user’s PC

This argument just brings us full circle, back to what began this post: Apple should do it because others do. I find that just a little too convenient.

Basically, what I’m looking for here is for Apple to “think different”, as I’ve come to expect from them. But perhaps this is their way of saying that — on Windows — they can’t?

12 thoughts on “A Second Look: Apple Windows Updater, Safari 3.1, and You.

  1. I hope those of you saying ‘this is war, apple has to do what they did’ etc, blah blah blah, never write any software. If you do, please let me know in advance so I’ll know what POS not to purchase. Thanks.

    The customer needs to be able to trust that a company is not going to, nor appear to try to, pull a fast one on them and trick them into using products of theirs other than the ones they’ve already opted for. It really IS that simple.

    I know how to get other Apple hardware/software if I need it. Maybe they should let me make my own choices without annoying ways of “helping” me.

    And yes, this is being typed on a MBP using Safari 3.1 in OS X 10.5.2, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I hate “real player” like maneuvers.

  2. There should be quotes around the first sentence just above.

    Also, James Katt wrote: “This is a war against Microsoft using similar tactics but far more honorable than Microsoft!”

    Yes, and the software is pretty good too. This is war, Apple has been stepping up the fight a step at a time. Whatever you do in this world, someone will oppose you. The bigger the thing you do, the greater the opposition, or the more they make you pay. You have to pay to make gains.

    Soon China and India will be the largest computer markets. Microsoft rules in these countries now because PC’s are cheap and Macs are expensive in these countries.. Apple strategy must also include these markets. Having 10 or even 30% of the US market won’t mean much 5 years from now. The software is the real battleground, and there Apple can compete.

  3. Many Apple-bashers are pretty pissed off, though. I mentioned a few of them in this post.

    Bashers are going to bash no matter what Apple does.

  4. Al,

    Yours is the first report I’ve seen that the suggested “update” is NOT occurring. I’m very curious why your system did not prompt to install Safari.

    “…but I can’t see many being pissed off about more free, excellent software from Apple.”

    Yet the fact remains that many people are. I’m not pissed about it, though I don’t agree with how Apple is doing it. Many Apple-bashers are pretty pissed off, though. I mentioned a few of them in this post.

  5. OK, I’ll take your word for it that Apple is sending Safari For Windows out with regular updates to iTunes on Windows although you couldn’t prove it by my experience.

    So Apple is sending out a great browser, written by Apple, to users of Apple software on Windows who, for the most part, are very pleased with any Apple software they have ever used. Chances are they will be curious about this browser from Apple and want to try it out. They will use it, or not, but I can’t see many being pissed off about more free, excellent software from Apple.

    You worry too much.

  6. I think Apple may believe that Safari is a necessary update for IE on Windoze. No harm, no foul.

  7. On Windows PCs, Apple has to fight fire with fire. And it does it not in the background without user choice like Microsoft.

    If you want to break the Windows monopoly, I think Apple’s technique is fantastic. Mozilla’s CEO is just jealous and is expressing sour hypocritical grapes because he should have thought of this in the first place.

    Go Apple!

    This is a war against Microsoft using similar tactics but far more honorable than Microsoft!

    You cannot fight Microsoft passively. This rams Safari down Internet Explorer’s throat.

    I applaud Apple for what it is doing.

    Go Apple!

  8. Al,

    As you’ve discovered, GETTING the browser is not a bad thing at all. I’ve been running Safari on XP since the first beta — writing a two-part review at the time — and like it a lot. I’ve been running the final version this week and it could very well unseat FireFox as my browser of choice on XP.

    Getting Safari is not the issue. The issue is HOW you get it. Actively seeking it out as you did is great. Would that all Windows XP users actively try a different browser than IE! If they did, Microsoft’s browser share would probably shrink to 20%. However, most users don’t do that.

    Clearly, Apple wants to make it much easier than an “active seek” to get Safari. I’m all for that. But I took issue with a process where the user’s led to believe he’s installing needed updates when in reality he’s installing a new app.

    So am I “right” or “wrong” (yes, the question’s rhetorical)? Should Apple have done this or not? If not, what should they have done instead? Well, those are the questions surrounding this debate, aren’t they? 🙂

    The one thing not in question (to me, anyway) was the Safari browser itself. I think it’s much better than IE 6 or 7 and, depending on your browsing needs and habits, fully capable of giving FireFox a run for its money.

  9. I just updated iTunes on my XP laptop. I knew it was not the latest version but I did it in order to get Safari on my XP laptop. Well, the updater updated iTunes and Quicktime but there was no Safari or even an option to add Safari while downloading the other programs. I had to go to Apple’s site to find where to download Safari For Windows.

    It sure blows away IE7. Very fast. Built in spell checker too!

    How is getting this excellent browser on my sorry Windows XP laptop a bad thing?

  10. I re-read the June article and something become clear to me.
    As you stated, it is more probable that “someone that already tasted another browser will taste the new one”.
    But here, we are in another world: the people that update iTunes/QuickTime come to Apple thru the iPod… so they are getting a whole new group of people. Once again, as you said, Apple did a magnificent job on marketing.
    The only thing that they missed is to change the name of the app to “Installer and Updater”!

  11. I say, so what? If someone was “tricked” into installing Safari, then Apple loses a little cred and the user uninstalls it. Microsoft pushes lot of crap the user can’t uninstall and probably doesn’t know what was installed. Safari is just an app; what MSFT installs is…well…who knows? Updates, WGA, more secret updates, and the list goes on. And some times it is forced on Windows users. I can’t tell you how many times my PC at work has been rebooted after I specifically said I wanted to be asked about updates before installing them.

    I see this as a non-issue. Microsofties just want to talk about everything Apple does wrong, in their eyes, right now. The show is not all about MSFT anymore, and they don’t know how to handle things when someone else is successful. Apple is making an end around in the Enterprise and they are going to ruffle some feathers along the way. So what. It’s still a drop compared to the river of indecency that is still flowing out of Redmond. How many lawsuits and fines does a company have to endure until the public wakes up and realizes just how bad they are?

    I don’t mean to turn this into an Apple vs. MSFT debate, but that’s what it has become. And the changing of the guard is happening, albeit very slowly. MSFT is standing flat-footed while someone else is eating their lunch. And Windows fans don’t know how to take it. They see what Apple is doing and cry foul, while MSFT has been doing it to them all along.

    I guess it’s OK when you are a monopoly.

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