Apple may lampoon Microsoft in its TV advertisements, but suddenly it seems awfully keen to copy one of its less honourable business practices.
Following the formal release of Safari 3.1 coupled with a host of bold speed claims Apple has now decided to push the browser via its iTunes updater. Yep, now you're not just getting Quicktime and iTunes notices but instructions that you don't have the latest edition of Safari - whether or not you even run an earlier version.
In practice, the standard 'New software is available from Apple' alert appears and automatically selects Safari for download along with the spin: "Safari for Windows is the fastest and easiest-to-use web browser for the PC. It displays web pages faster than any other browser and is filled with innovative features - all delivered in an efficient and elegant user interface."
Personally I'd find issue with both those sentences.
Naturally, the move hasn't found favour with rivals. Speaking on his blog, Mozilla CEO John Lilly said, "What Apple is doing now with their Apple Software Update on Windows is wrong. It undermines the trust relationship great companies have with their customers, and that's bad — not just for Apple, but for the security of the whole Web... 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.."
Other than the clear deception involved here, it also has to be said it is sad to see Apple mimic the anti-trust methods adopted by Microsoft over the years. When you sign up for iTunes you don't request Safari. The browser should win merits on its own. Imagine updating Firefox to be told your Thunderbird email client is out of date, or IE to be told you need the newest version of Windows Live Photo Gallery?
With approximately 1m downloads of iTunes a day I get the temptation to give your flagging browser a boost Apple, I do. I just hoped you might be above it...