Is Safari taking Windows users for a ride?

This morning after I logged in, Apple’s Software Update program popped up and asked me if I wanted to install Safari.  “Safari? ” I wondered, “the only Apple software I’ve installed on this system is the QuickTime+ITunes bundle.  Why’s it asking me about Safari?”

But I’ve mean meaning to install Safari anyway to test browser compatibility, so I said, “Sure, why not?”

Well, apparently a lot of folks out there aren’t as easygoing about this as I am.

Mozilla CEO John Lilly says:

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.

Of course he’s not biased.

I guess maybe most users don’t pay much attention to what they’re installing on their systems, and just click OK to anything that pops up and asks for their permission.  Maybe it’s becoming a knee-jerk reaction in response to Vista’s UAC.

My own opinion is that this isn’t such a big deal.  What I was choosing to install was quite clear to me, and I had the option of saying no without losing any other functionality or security.  And if you don’t know what Safari is, Google can take you there as its first result.

What do you think?  Is Apple pushing its products in too subtle a fashion here?

Oh, and as for that browser compatibility test… it looks like I may have some work to do.

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21 Responses to Is Safari taking Windows users for a ride?

  1. I actually completely agree with Lilly. And, as true geek, I can't get over the feeling that applications shouldn't suggest to install other software from the same vendor. It's like Firefox asking you to install Thunderbird and Sunbird. And one can think of much worse (better?) examples. It's not supposed to work that way. I've installed that exact application and I don't ever want it to go beyond its boundaries.

  2. You're right, it's probably not that big of a deal. I personally have no issue with it, just as long as the update asks for the permission. If it gets to a time where Apple (or any other group) starts installing applications without us knowing, then we're in for a massive battle… they would join the realms of some of our favorite spammers, and that for me would be a complete boycott of anything Apple.

  3. No, I do have a problem with and I pretty much agree with John Lilly and fett. It could be done in nearly exactly the same way but just through an advertisement with a web link. Clearly if people haven't gone looking for it, they don't need it. And while I've no doubts that Safari is better than IE (not a compliment really) quality isn't the issue here. Lilly hit the target, it is 'trust'. It's practically nag-ware. I'd say the vast majority of users don't know what they're doing on PCs and that's why PCs the world over end up clutter and crippled by hundreds of unused programs. It's detrimental to any PCs performance and therefore irresponsible.

  4. How is this any different than Java asking permission to install Google toolbar (checked by default) or Firefox offering options to customize it after the install (back to their website where, low and behold, there's Thunderbird and Sunbird and t-shirts, etc). The option is giving in all these instances by way of an app that you are or have voluntarily installed. You don't want it, don't install it.

    • Does Firefox update ask you to install Thunderbird? If you answered no, you've pinpointed the difference.

  5. At first read, I thought "what's the big deal? I get software update notices all the time". But as a longtime Mac user, I have all that stuff already and they really are just updates that I almost always would want anyway. It really is a different thing to be offered something you probably don't already have a version of and don't know much about, even if it's free. Sounds like Apple either unthinkingly added Safari to the update system they might have in place for iTunes for Windows, or else it was done with plenty of thought. Probably the latter, but I can't see much profit in it for Apple.

  6. As a Windows user I pretty much hate Apple software.

    I used to use a pirated Quicktime Pro, for one reason, and one reason only. I really have absolutely ZERO desire to use Quicktime Pro, and if I really get asked to upgrade when the only option to get Quicktime to shut up IS to upgrade, I'm ready to slam the software up against the wall. I now run Quicktime Alternative, which works, but still gives me quirks on some pages that claim I can't run their video or whatever. I download it, and then it runs just fine. It's probably just some adjustment that QA needs to make, but it works for me now with a lot less headaches.

    Oh, and when I was using Quicktime, I got real tired of "accidentally" installing iTunes every time there was an update. I don't like iTunes, it thinks that it needs to be the keeper of the MP3 and other sound files, doesn't work well with others (like Winamp) and it is a real bitch to find the link to the iTuneless version on Apple's website. And now they want to throw Safari at us??

    I had Safari installed. It was buggy, it didn't look anything at all like Windows (still doesn't), I still can't remember what color does what on the title bar, and as far as I'm concerned it's ugly. If they ever get it to look like a Windows program (not likely, QT is just as ugly and it's been out a hell of a lot longer) then I may give it a try. Otherwise I'm giving it a pass.

    • That reminds me — I have one XP system that has QT installed, and it constantly pops up a message box saying that some QuickTime components are out of date and do I want to upgrade. If I say "yes", then it gets an error. I've tried uninstalling and reinstalling QT without success. It only happens on the one system.

  7. while i love apple and all, i don't think it's a huge deal for apple to include that in the update. you can always cancel it. and as far as the average user goes anyway, they'll use whatever is on their computer. people get sucked into all the bloatware that comes standard on their computer and their mostly ok with that. they'll use IE until a computer geek is so flustered that he installs firefox himself and tells them to stop using IE. AIM installs some trial version of aol and asks to install other various stuff during install. everyone does this to some extent.

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  9. This is a very dirty trick and I'm suprised Apple would do such a thing. Maybe it doesn't seem like a big deal to Mark but this forces most users who don't know what they're doing to install a software they didn't want to install in the first place….

    plus, firefox is better

  10. And can I just point out in regards to the Java install and google toolbar; while it is in some sense the same idea and, I want to make this clear; I don't agree with that either, in my view it's not quite as bad because Java itself is an internet aid and something that runs in any browser installed be that Safari, Firefox or IE. Which I also believe Google Toolbar will do. Still pretty suspect though.

    • I'm actually much more put out by the auto-install of the Google Toolbar.

      Nobody makes me run Safari, even if it's installed. But once that toolbar is installed I have to look at it in my browser of choice until I remove it.

  11. @Sampi

    Actually, I am not surprised at all that apple would do something like this. I consider them a very dirty company(figuratively speaking). They take advantage of people that don't know any better, for one thing. I really don't know why anyone uses apple products anyway(I feel the same way about windows and IE… and their media formats.).

      • Well, most people with opinions like that would also be more likely to blindly follow a company like Apple down whatever path they decide to lead you on, just because they can make you believe they are different.

        BTW, I have no preference for either MS or Apple, as I believe they are both as bad as each other in so many ways. However, all cases of this type should be judged by the same standards, no matter where it comes from. It seems some companies manage to get away with things that people would not accept at all from other sources.

  12. I am with John Lilly on this one. I have never installed iTunes/QuickTime/Safari because I do not want Apple's software taking over my computer and I already have much better alternative software that performs better than Apple's.
    If you want iTunes/QuickTime/Safari buy a Mac, if not, don't install Apple software.
    Just how I feel about Apple…