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March 2008

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Apple Safari - How Did I Get That Icon?

25th March 2008

Millions of Windows users have Apple QuickTime or Apple iTunes installed.. but not Apple have decided that those applications aren't enough, and have opted those millions of users into their own web browser - Apple Safari. As a result, those millions of users are looking at their desktop and wondering just how did I get that icon?

Here's the evidence that Apple are foisting this application on unsuspecting users, in a manner that is arguably unethical.

A common way to install QuickTime is to visit www.apple.com/quicktime and to click on the "Free Download" button.

For Windows XP, there are just two options. QuickTime with or without iTunes. In this case, we selected QuickTime without iTunes.

It's quite a hefty application at 22Mb, but never mind. Let's download it and install it.

So, now we're installing the application and QuickTime is asking us about updates. Updates are good, right? After all, QuickTime 7 has had a staggering 17 security issues according to Secunia, and these have been several active exploits. In other words, installing QuickTime and not updating it will probably lead to the bad guys getting control of your PC.

The installation is complete, and we have a QuickTime Player icon on the desktop (the icon underneath is the Installer we downloaded earlier).

Instead of waiting, let's go into the Control Panel and update QuickTime from there.

There's an Update tab, with an Update button on it. Let's press that.

Despite the fact that we have only just installed QuickTime, this application says "Apple Software updates are available for your computer. Would you like to update now?". In fact, the only Apple software on this machine is QuickTime.. there are no other applications at all. Clicking OK brings us onto..

..this. Well just wait a moment. The dialogue box say New software is available from Apple. "Select the items you want to update, then click Install). Listed underneath it has iTunes + QuickTime as one product - there is no way to download QuickTime without iTunes. And then underneath is Safari. Both boxes are ticked, so the default is to install QuickTime, iTunes and Safari. (To be fair, Apple have done the iTunes + QuickTime thing for a while now, but it's still annoying).

This is a much bigger download than the original 22Mb, totalling nearly 90Mb. Imagine having all your corporate PCs do this. Yes, there are a couple of EULAs too, but who reads those?

Your software has been successfully installed.. whether or not you wanted it is another matter.

And now you have iTunes and Safari.. but you only wanted QuickTime.

Just to make it more fun, if you actually run the Safari icon it tries to set itself as the default browser (the Yes button is animated).

Is this ethical?

Is this ethical? After all, you only wanted QuickTime and now you have two other commercial applications that you weren't expecting. iTunes, in particular, starts all sorts of services and processes that you don't want. And Safari probably now crops up when you least expect it if you made it the default browser.

It's all about money, of course. Apple are hoping that you'll buy stuff from iTunes and the Apple store because the applications have now invaded your desktop.

Of course, a company like Apple would never do anything unethical.. would it? Well, if this had been a lesser known company then it would have been accused of pushing adware when it wasn't wanted. Ultimately, is there a difference between adding a few toolbars to an unsuspecting user's PC and giving them a whole new web browser?

I have nothing against Safari as a browser, but if I didn't want it then I don't want it. Yes, I can get rid of it.. until next time.

Businesses may have a more serious problem. That application you thought wasn't going to be an issue is now pulling down a 90Mb download per client, users are ringing up to wonder why their web browser has changed and all this is costing time and money.

This behaviour from Apple is not excusable, so if you can live without QuickTime and iTunes then you are best off deinstalling them.. forever. Businesses may want to add QuickTime to their banned list, presumably to sit alongside iTunes. These applications certainly border on being unsolicited commercial software, and they introduce a whole set of new potential security risks to any business using them.

One final thought.. if Microsoft had behaved in this way, just how quickly do you think a lawsuit would have been filed?

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 Subj: Shopping and Services


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