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4/7/2008
03:31 PM
Tom LaSusa
Tom LaSusa
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Admins On The Hunt For Safari Downloads

When I launched iTunes over the weekend, I got the typical software update notification pop-up that I've come to expect every couple of weeks from Apple. As part of this update, however, there was a request to install the Safari browser -- which I had absolutely no interest in doing.

When I launched iTunes over the weekend, I got the typical software update notification pop-up that I've come to expect every couple of weeks from Apple. As part of this update, however, there was a request to install the Safari browser -- which I had absolutely no interest in doing.I was just glad I was paying close attention and quickly unchecked the download Safari box. Had I been doing this, say, an hour earlier -- when my twin boys were "at their peak" -- I might have totally have missed the box and downloaded the entire package.

Unfortunately, that's what's been happening to a lot of users recently who have gotten the notification both from iTunes and QuickTime -- and that spells "headache" for many a network administrator charged with removing Safari from corporate machines -- and instituting measures to prevent it from being re-installed.

Putting aside the natural argument as to why these apps are on office desktops in the first place (for the sole reason that someone's job could require one or both of them to be there -- hey, you never know), it almost seems as if Apple intentionally configured this recent software update with the purpose of getting Safari onto as many PCs as possible. Across the blog-o-sphere many outraged cries have been heard, accusing the company of essentially resorting to Trojan-esque tactics.

Back in late March, Mozilla CEO John Lilly had a few choice words for his competitor. "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," Lilly said.

Lilly went on to further decry Apple's actions, "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."

Lilly's outrage doesn't come as much of a surprise. Any chance to demonize his adversary in the Mac Browser war, right? But does he have a valid point?

Sure, we can try to place blame on the users and say that everyone should be more aware of what's being downloaded onto their machines. But truth is, it is very easy to be distracted by something and then simply click OK on a pop-up from a company that you've come to trust. I'm not exonerating such lackadaisical behavior -- but if I've done it a few times in the past, I'm not going to throw stones.

As I said earlier, had one or both of my boys been in front of me at the time, demanding I settle some earth-shattering debate (I think at the time it was whether Batman can fly), I could have just as easily clicked the button and been oblivious of the extra install until it was too late.

Do you think Apple's recent software update was a little underhanded? Or do you think this is a case of user beware and the message here is "pay attention, stupid?" Sound off below!

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