Posted March 22, 2008 4:07 pm by with 18 comments

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It’s been a few months since Apple has done anything to mark its reputation, so the time is right for a few fireworks. The creator of Safari has (allegedly) decided that it’s perfectly fine to dump its internet browser on Windows users, without their express permission.

When Windows users update their iTunes or QuickTime software, Apple conveniently bundles Safari 3.1 with the download. How jolly nice of them!

Surprisingly, it’s not “Papa Microsoft” that’s griping about the sneaky install, nope. It’s actually Mozilla CEO John Lilly that’s doing the complaining–apparently he feels a threat to Mozilla’s own Firefox browser.

According to Lilly

The problem here is that it lists Safari for getting an update — and has the “Install” box checked by default — even if you haven’t ever installed Safari on your PC.

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.

A competitor complaining about Apple? I’m sure the Apple fans will flock around this story–or will they? If this were Microsoft complaining that it was unfair on IE, then I’d fully expect Mac users to circle the wagons. But, this is Mozilla doing the complaining and, last time I checked, many Mac owners use Firefox over Safari.

A clash between Apple and Mozilla? This could be the browser equivalent of the immovable object against the unstoppable force!

(photo and hat-tip CNET)

  • It is to laugh. I remember when Firefox would have the automatic poll thingee that would fire up just when I was ready to post a blog or answer a question in a forum or …. in every single fleeping case, it would destroy my work. I used Opera for some time after that until that FEATURE was removed.



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  • Apple is acting like the Big Bro it supposedly freed us from. In addition to Sneak Bundling, Apple engages in format locks and provides next to zero-backward compatibilities. It is evidently Steve Jobs’ mal-plan to turn us all into scurrying (paying) hamsters on his endless upgrade wheel.

    I’ve had it. I’ve given up on AppleApps. I buy only used macs. I run OS9 (with an occasional Panther). Next stop… LINUX

  • @Barbara – I remember that too. It’s the pot calling the kettle black if you ask me.

  • larry

    As a longtime Mac user I prefer Opera over Firefox (bad memory leaks) and rarely use Safari (too slow). I don’t use any Mac apps on my 3 WinXP machines, and would never install a Mac app on them.

    As I see the problem, Apple is treating Windows users as they are accustomed, which has been to ignor ULA’s and speed click through 5 install screens, have 10 icons installed everywhere, and force reboot into a new experience.

    The only problem will be when Apple does this within its operating system and forces loyalists to accept undesired applications or undocumented features.

  • this is a really bold move by Apple. if they continue to market this way they will soon find themselves with a lot of problems

  • when this popped up on my wifes computer she had already gotten the latest itunes and safari was the only upgrade listed. not knowing what safari was she was about to accept, when I looked over her shoulder and caught it.
    Pretty underhanded if you ask me. I wonder how many people installed it not knowing they had a choice. The ethics of this should not be compared to microsoft or mozilla, they are just bad in their own right.

  • Definitely not on the up and up here, though something that’s becoming more common across the board.

    One thing I wonder if companies realize. If I didn’t ask for your browser, but it somehow gets downloaded why do you think I’m going to look for it or even realize it’s there when I need a browser?

  • rcjordan

    It appears there are enough cases of conflict of interest to go around, Andy. Moz may not be exactly transparent….

    “Mozilla made $66.8 million in revenue in 2006, quite a bit of it from Google”

    “‘other revenue sources’ are piddling in comparison to Google’s contribution, which apparently accounts for a full 85% ($56 million or so) of Mozilla’s revenues.”

    “So it’s supremely ironic then to hear Mozilla CEO John Lilly…”

  • rcjordan

    Given the last Apple-related thread here on MP, full disclosure might be in order:

    “I swear, to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never knowingly bought anything from Apple.”

    Well, OK, a Shuffle for a grandkid as a Christmas present but THAT’s all.

  • I’m with Steven on this one. This is ridiculous. Why would Mozilla even care? Unless Safari injects itself when IE or FF runs, just the presence of a program doesn’t make one a user of it. I still have Opera installed on my PC. I tried it… once. That installation isn’t a threat to FF.

    Maybe Mozilla is hoping all the press will get the average user to go, “What the heck is a FireFox?” In fact, it’s probably a brilliant joint tactic between the two.

  • Car Guy and Steven…
    Safari asks at the end of the installation if you would like to make Safari your default browser, and has the option checked by default. All of a sudden you are using it and don’t know how to make IE or FF the default again.

  • brodie:
    You might have a point. Some people may not be able to find their original shortcut, or they may even wonder why Internet Explorer is now called Safari. Sometimes I find it difficult to think like a “typical” user. 🙂

    With that said, I’ve always assumed FF users were a little more tech savvy, and usually re-opening FF will re-prompt you to switch back.

  • Yes, and I am not scared of their tactic, I actually even had safari installed and used it maybe twice. This threw my wife for a loop. I fixed her computer as she likes IE (I don’t know why), and it does not re-prompt to switch back. It really annoyed her.

  • DavidK

    You know there is a solution. Don’t install it. Mozilla should be confident in there work, instead they are freaking out. I smell fear. If anything, Apple should remove the preselected default browser option that selects them but leave the choice of browser as a open selection of browsers loaded on machine. Other than this I personally think this is getting way too much ink.

  • I think you’re over reacting. If you don’t want it, don’t install it. Even if the box is checked by default, it’s your problem if you don’t read what you click.

    I think it’s a cool way to let people know that you can actually run Safari on Windows, although
    I personally installed it and tried to get it to run. Both times y executed it it crashed. :s

  • Doesn’t even matter…

    I downloaded it just because I was curious, and believe me, it’s complete junk. Apple tried to emulate their animations within the Windows environment, and it looked horrible. Keep Safari where it belongs…on Macs. Apple’s developers should really be ashamed on how they put the Windows version of Safari together. Very unstable and buggy.

  • Ridiculous

    This is all a rather pointless thing. If you don’t want Safari, just don’t click on it. It doesn’t start routing all of your links over to Safari, and after installing and using it, it’s not half bad. I don’t know what this Mozilla guy is freaking out about. If his browser is so superior (which I personally think it isn’t…) what does he have to worry about. In my honest opinion this is a cowardly move, and he’s just trying to generate press for himself. I for one am tired of all these “open” people getting mad at Apple.