Apple pushes malware, says Mozilla honcho (and dumb luck)

An updated IT Blogwatch: in which Apple is accused of "malware distribution practices." Not to mention stupid game show answers...

It all started last week, as Gregg Keizer reports:

As Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs promised last summer, Apple has begun leveraging its dominance in the music download business by pushing the Windows version of its Safari Web browser to iTunes and QuickTime users running XP or Vista. Starting Tuesday, when Apple updated Safari to Version 3.1, the company has been posting the browser as a download in Apple Software Update, the utility packaged with iTunes and QuickTime for Windows ... Typically, updaters only notify users of -- or in some cases download and install -- updates to existing software, and are rarely used to seed new software. The move, however, should not have been a surprise. Last June, when Jobs unveiled Safari for Windows at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, he clearly tied the browser's distribution to iTunes. more

Scott Gilbertson cuts to the chase:

The dialog box makes it seem like Safari is already installed, when in fact it’s a new program. Perhaps a better design decision would be to separate out Safari so users know it’s new software and leave it unchecked by default. Of course Apple isn’t the only company doing surreptitious application installs — Microsoft does it with Windows Live Messenger, which offers to install the entire Windows Live suite, and Google pushes all sorts of software when you install the Google Toolbar. But the fact that Apple is no different than Microsoft and Google in this respect doesn’t make the practice any less wrong. more

Cade Metz checks out the odds:

On Windows machines, Apple Software Update is automatically installed alongside iTunes and Quicktime. So you can bet that Safari has been offered to many millions of folks over the past week ... Mozilla CEO John Lilly is peeved. Presumably, Lilly is peeved because Safari browsers on Windows machines would eat into the market share of Mozilla's very own Firefox browser. But Lilly says he's peeved for different reasons. He says he's peeved because Steve Jobs' little Software Update trick undermines the security of the entire internet. more

Here's John Lilly (for it is he):

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 ... There’s an implicit trust relationship between software makers and customers in this regard ... when the user trusts the software maker, they’ll generally go ahead and install the patch, keeping themselves and everyone else safe ... the likely behavior here is for users to just click “Install 2 items,” which means that they’ve now installed a completely new piece of software, quite possibly completely unintentionally. 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 undermines the trust that we’re all trying to build with users. more

Julie Kent misquotes the Bible:

The move seems to have ruffled a few feathers, particularly those at Mozilla. But why do they care, and how is it any different from what any other software company does? What it all comes down to is money. You know, the root of all evil and cause of countless fights. In this case, Mozilla, who has captured a significant share of the browser world, gets a lot of money from Google, who pays to be the top search engine in their browser. A little search box in the top right corner of the Mozilla Firefox browser features Google as its main search engine. Mozilla didn’t just decide that Google was the coolest kid on the block, and made them number 1 out of the kindness of their hearts - Google pays for this privilege. The more people who get Firefox, and the more people who conduct searches on Google through Firefox, the more kickbacks Mozilla receives. more

Matthew Gertner calls that idea "rather artless":

The real reason for Apple’s move is that it sees Safari as a strategic application platform on the whole range of computing devices, not just the iPhone. Despite continued gains in PC market share, its management realizes that they aren’t going to dislodge Windows from its entrenched position any time soon. So they are fighting to get more widespread deployment on Windows of their two application stacks, Cocoa and WebKit. It is a no-brainer that Apple is eventually going to launch some sort of Rich Internet Application platform, and overall market penetration of Safari will be a huge success vector. The hardest part of driving adoption of any new platform, after all, is getting your runtime onto the end user’s machine. Just ask Microsoft (.Net) and Sun (Java). more

Dave Murdock doesn't see what all the fuss is about:

What I haven't seen mentioned in the sources I have read is how easy it is to ignore Safari 3.1 ... I have to think that this has become a controversy simply because it is Apple. By them doing this, they will start to eat into Windows browser market share, even a little bit ... during installs or upgrades, on Windows anything goes. You want to install Windows Live Messenger, you get a mess of IE toolbars and other products. Depending on how you get Firefox, get a bundled Google Toolbar. This is all par for the course on Windows. more

But Ken Fisher says, "It's about the software, right?":

Safari 3.1 is the first non-beta release of Safari for Windows. Along with the Mac version, 3.1 brings support for CSS Web fonts and animations, and improves existing support for SVG and HTML 5. There are also a handful of performance and stability improvements rolled into the release, as well. Standards compliance is impressive. Safari 3.1 scores a 75 on Acid 3 ... Safari ends up using 25 to 50 percent less memory [than Firefox 2], keeping it from getting sluggish and unstable ... Safari is very fast, subjectively faster than IE and about as fast as Firefox, perhaps a bit speedier ... Fonts are still a problem. In fact, for me, the fonts are a deal-breaker ... it looks broken because it looks different. Apple needs to fix this. more

And finally...

Buffer overflow:

Other Computerworld bloggers:

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You too can pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email:

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