There’s been a lot of talk over the last few days over Safari 3.1 which is Apple’s web browser. It was released last week to both Mac and PC users via Apple’s Software Update mechanism (which Apple users have as part of OS X and Windows users get when they install an Apple application such as iTunes). What’s generated the discussion is not how fast it is or how much better it is than Internet Explorer. The source of the discussion is the fact tat Safari is showing up in the Software Update panels of Windows users who have never installed the application. That doesn’t sound like an update to me. This has Mozilla CEO John Lilly irate as evidenced in this blog posting. Here’s a quote from the post in question:
“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.“
I can see his point. Mozilla cranks out FireFox after all, so it’s understandable that he’d be ticked off. But I’d like to point out two things:
- There is a checkmark next to the Safari entry (check the blog posting I referenced earlier for a picture) which gives users the choice to install it. Granted, most users are from the “click next without reading” school of computer usage, so it is likely that they would just install it without thinking about it. Still, the choice is there.
- Steve Jobs gave fair warning that he was going to do this. Granted, “Joe Enduser” doesn’t keep up to date with what “The Steve” says, but nobody had any issue with it at the time. So why whine about it now?
I think what needs to happen is people need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and pay attention to what you’re installing regardless of who it comes from. Computer users need to take responsibility for their computing environments rather than passing that off to someone else. Users really have to understand how their computers work so that this sort of thing isn’t an issue. Take it from someone who does tech support for a living: If you simply just install anything that appears on your screen without understanding what the program in question does, you are asking for trouble. Period.
So…. Is Apple Forcing Safari Down The Throats Of PC Users? Maybe. But that doesn’t absolve you of making the decision to install it or not.