Get off your high horse Ed!

There was a big bruhaha on the intertubes over the weekend when Apple ran its software update on Windows and offered the Safari 3.1 browser download as the default selected option.

Now I am not for a second condoning this kind of behaviour. I believe opt-in is the only way to do optional updates, especially when you are adding applications to a users machine.

However, I had to laugh when I saw Ed Bott get all up on his high horse about this. Ed is a Microsoft guy so it was all the more hilarious that he try to grab the moral highground here. In his post he said:

I think Apple is dead wrong in the way it’s gone about using its iPod monopoly to expand its share in another market. Ironically, an excellent model for how this update program should work already exists. It’s called Windows Update, and it embodies all the principles that Apple should follow… The right way to do it involves these four principles

* Opt-in is the only way. The update process should be completely opt-in. The option to deliver software should never be preselected for the user.
* Offer full disclosure. The software company has a responsibility to fully disclose what its software does, and the customer should make the opt-in decision only after being given complete details about how the update process works.
* Offer updates only. Updates should be just that. They should apply only to software that the customer has already chosen to install.
* Don’t mix updates. Updates that are not critical should be delivered through a separate mechanism.

They are good principles, I have no argument with them however Ed offers these principles up as if Microsoft lived by them! Ed, you are dreaming. Microsoft are just as guilty of breaching these principles as Apple. I don’t use Microsoft software much but the last time I tried to update Windows Live Writer my default search engine was changed to Live Search, and I had to opt out or I would have had Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live OneCare installed on my laptop.

Pot kettle black Ed.

25 thoughts on “Get off your high horse Ed!”

  1. AHA! So that’s it! I was wondering when I’d downloaded Safari. Oooh sneaky sneaky. Doesn’t mean I won’t try it but still…

  2. Whatever about Safari as a browser, if you try Webkit you will be seriously impressed with its speed.

    The next fastest browser is the IE8 Beta but that is, as yet, so unstable it crashes on Microsoft sites!

  3. Tom, the Windows Live application you installed was not delivered to you through an automatic updater. You went to the website, downloaded it, and installed it.

    For the record, I disagree with those defaults you show. But I defend Microsoft’s right to deliver software that way, just as I would defend Apple’s right to deliver Safari as part of an INITIAL installation of iTunes. Offer it to me, let me say yes or no, and then be done with it. To push it through an automatic updater is the sin here.

  4. Ed, I went to the Windows Live Writer site to download an update to Windows Live Writer. This was not an initial installation.

    I did not want to have my default search engine changed and I did not want Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Photo Gallery or the POS that is Windows Live OneCare installed on my laptop.

    I don’t disagree with Apple or Microsoft offering software – what I disagree with is that it is offered opt-out, not opt-in. This will trick the unwitting into installing it.

  5. I think it’s ridiculous that Apple did this. Imagine delivering a fast, standards-compliant browser with a nice interface to customers.

    Microsoft would never do that!

  6. I’m a Windows guy with an iPod. When I saw Safari in the update list I thought it must be a mistake. Surely they wouldn’t offer me a new application in an automatic update? Does Safari even run on Windows? (I don’t know) What is Safari anyway? (I know – but a lot of people in my position don’t)

    TBH I still think it’s a cock-up. “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity” I can’t see Apple making new friends this way. Most people won’t even realise they’ve got a new browser, and those that do will be pissed off at the sneakiness of it.

  7. Ah now, steady on mj – in fairness to Microsoft IE8 Beta has most of that (the ui is debatable and it is far from stable yet but…)

  8. @Conn O Muineachain
    I disagree – I think it’s more malice than stupidity. But the sort of people who just click OK anyway – it’s a better option than going IE8.

  9. Tom, two things:

    #1, the behavior you describe is not what I’ve seen with the Windows Live stuff. The screen shot you showed was from a beta that was fixed. I just went to install Live Writer on a test machine here and nothing else was installed except Live Writer. Five additional apps were on the list, but all were unchecked. I have a screen shot and will publish it if you would like. As of today, all the Live services are opt-in.

    #2, you “went to the website” and downloaded an update. This is not an automatic updater we’re talking about, which was my point.

  10. @Tom Raftery – och, sure never let facts get in the way of a good barney. Microsoft is amusing me in this example because they are the poster-child for nagware in the past. Update IE and it gets turned into your default browser. Update IE? Oh, get Outlook Express too. Run security updates on Windows and get the latest versions of IE and WinMedia at the same time. And reboot three times to get it.

    It’s one thing for you or me to bitch about this latest development from Cupertino. From the lackeys at Redmond, it’s just hypocrisy.

  11. @Ed, you’re not seeing the Windows Live behaviour because MS changed their position 3 months later – largely due to user outcry.

    But it was worse than opt-out instead of opt-in: if you wanted the photo app, you got Desktop Search, without a choice, without even a warning. That’s a fundamental change to a computer’s basic setup, one that can bring it to its knees when two search apps run competing for resources.

  12. Zoli, the software you describe was a beta release. The purpose of a beta is to get feedback from users. They got the feedback, and they changed it for the final release. That sounds like the system worked.

    And again, it was not an automatic updater. A point everyone keeps ignoring.

  13. It’s interesting to read this debate in light of recent “opt-in” scandals related to private personal info exchanged or posted online. The EU requires that a user’s private information be carefully protected through specific opt-ins, an issue that got Facebook into some trouble last year with its Beacon platform. If I choose when to upload/share my personal info, I think that its equally important I choose what gets downloaded/shared with my personal computer. Both should be carefully protected by as many opt-ins as necessary, I think. It’s simple to click yes.

  14. I’ve come across people who didn’t realise you could get additional applications for their computer. And some who thought they could only buy software with the Microsoft seal of approval (logo) on it.

  15. When I get a software update from Apple for my Mac, all the software boxes are checked; And I must uncheck things I do not want. This was the OSX update mode of operation from the start. I never ask for Safari on the Mac but it comes with an OSX install. It appears to me that Apple is somewhat consistent on Windows as it is on the Mac. Although, I think the “opt-in” is a better method.

    I think Apple uses the “Opt-out” on the Mac because many users do not know if they even use the software being up-dated. If it didn’t get updated the user may end up with broken or lesser use of their Mac. I suppose this is also why they send installs of itunes, iPhone, iPod even when you do not have these on you Mac.

  16. Ed,

    two things:
    1 – As Zoli said it was the case when I posted my original post (linked to above). If it is fixed now, I am delighted to hear it but the point remains that Microsoft’s does/has behave/d similarly. You can’t take a pot-shot at Apple for their behaviour when Microsoft is just as culpable.

    2 – As to the automatic updater point, that is pretty much a red herring. Whether I went looking for the update or the update came looking for me, it is still just as wrong to have opt-in apps I didn’t want added to the update.

  17. This could all be very important to Microsoft as Internet Explorer has now drop below 50% of the browser market. Having Safari suddenly inserted into a higher rank, only hurts that much more.

  18. That’s exactly right, Branedy

    Well, there’s several million iPod users and a lot of them are “Yeah, sure” clickers. So there’ll be jockeying for position on the Windows desktop.

    Microsoft is crying foul because it’s they who have the most to lose.

  19. I’ve been using a wide variety of OSes for a VERY long time and I can tell you with certainty that if Apple did this and also then told everyone that Safari couldn’t possibly be un-installed, then they wouldn’t even be getting close to being as sneaky as Microsoft.

  20. I guess he forgot about that little thing that MS did with the OS behind everyones back. Without permissions, MS modified system files.

  21. The next fastest browser is the IE8 BetaThe next fastest browser is the IE8 Beta

    Where on earth did you get that nonsense? Every test so far says it’s not only markedly slower than FF3 and Webkit, but also takes half as long again to do anything as IE7 did.

  22. Where on earth did you get that nonsense?

    I got that nonsense John by testing it in XP on Parallels on my Mac and on Vista on my Vaio and comparing those tests to all other main browsers.

    I blogged all the tests. Check back along in your reader or do a search on the site for “Sunspider”

    I might ask where you got the nonsense about it being slower than IE7?

  23. I personally think that this kind of hijack is what contributes most to the “anti microsoft” feeling. When will they learn that people want choice.

  24. My dear friends, its called marketing – more people will keep it, and besides apple seem to be able to get away with it.

    I suppose I could say that if you want to do marketing the ethical way, then maybe 3R could help you, but one has to wonder if that is ethical in itself!

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