Apple undermines the trust of the InternetMikey 2 comments
According to Steve Jobs, long held Internet trust and etiquette don't apply to Apple. If you hadn't heard, Jobs and Co did something rather sneaky last week, some might say slimey.
You know how some software has an auto-update feature that alerts you when there are new updates? Well software developers go to a lot of effort to gain our trust with things like auto-update features. As end users, we trust that the software update notifications are only for updates to that particular piece of software. We hope that in the process of allowing this, that the company doesn't try to sneak something passed us without our knowledge or permission.
Apple have undermined that trust with the Apple Software Update utility that comes with iTunes and Quicktime by trying to sneak in their latest version of the Safari web browser. The obvious problem here is that Safari is not an update for either Quicktime or iTunes, it's a completely new piece of software. But the notification has Safari listed and checked as a default in the updates dialogue. This makes it very easy for people to install software they didn't ask for or want.
Anyway, Mozilla CEO John Lilly is pissed and I don't blame him. Sure John has two reasons to be pissed, one being the potential to lose market share, but he insists the issue of trust and security trump that. Said Lilly:
"By and large, all software makers are trying to get users to trust us on updates, and so 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. 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."
Something that is quite humorous in this regard, is the discovery by setteB.IT that the Safari licence agreement actually forbids Windows users from installing it. Doing so violates the EULA. Maybe Apple should spend a little time reading their own documentation instead of plotting deceptive deployment practices.
You can read John Lilly's thoughts on this issue on his blog post. All up, I'm inclined to agree with the man's sentiments. Cut it out, Apple.