Mar 21 2008

Apple upgrading Safari, even where it’s not installed

Published by at 5:35 am under Apple/Mac

Yesterday a friend of mine posted in a chat room “Hey, why’s Safari upgrading? I don’t even have Safari installed.” Most of us figured it had been installed alongside Quicktime or iTunes and let it go. But it turns out that wasn’t the case; in a bid to increase Safari’s marketshare, Apple is pushing out Safari to anyone and everyone who’s got Apple Software Update on their computer. And that means all Mac’s (obviously) and anyone who’s ever installed Quicktime or iTunes. If you’ve got an iPod, you’ve probably installed iTunes, despite your better judgment.

I wouldn’t go as far as to call this evil, but it’s definitely a questionable tactic on Apple’s part. Most users aren’t going to know Safari from the Sound Recorder in Windows, and they’ll just download it because it’s from Apple. They’ll probably never fire it up, but Apple will be able claim a big increase in the number of Safari installations. I’d say this ranks pretty high on the list of questionable business practices.

I have iTunes installed on my PC, but the Apple Software Update service is set to manual, since I want to be in control of my upgrades, not Apple. Most people should have it running, since patching is not something the average user ever willingly thinks about, let alone does. But the way Apple is abusing this service is reminds me of the tactics malware writers use to get their software on your computer; promise one thing and then load a number of other programs onto your computer when you’re not looking. Is this really the type of reputation Apple wants to garner?

Update:  Here’s Andy’s own take on the Apple Safari “upgrade”.

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6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Apple upgrading Safari, even where it’s not installed”

  1. Adrian Laneon 21 Mar 2008 at 6:11 am

    Evil? No. Dastardly? Absolutely! This type of behavior drives me nuts. It shows a complete contempt for their user base, both in the sneaky way it is deployed, and the assumption of my computer system resources without permission. And as many of the pieces of software introduce new security issues, it’s reckless to distribute add-ons without permission. Of course, they will only stop after someone writes a virus to exploit the junk they dumped onto their customers machines.

  2. Lori MacVittieon 21 Mar 2008 at 9:28 am

    Meh. In all my years in the press I tried to ignore market share statistics because it’s too easy to manipulate them and it’s nearly impossible to get a clear understanding of what it’s based on – actual sales? downloads? installations? contractual agreements?

    Microsoft used to generate market share of IE based on the total number of Windows installs because, after all, IE is distributed by default with Windows. Software companies tack a brand name onto products and then report sales/market share based on the branding rather than individual products.

    You’re right in that this is likely a marketing tactic to increase the alleged market share of Safari, but here’s hoping that people are smart enough to see through such tactics.


  3. Roger Merceron 21 Mar 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Apple should admit that this is a big a mistake and apologize. Still, I must admit I prefer Safari for its speed, lean lines, simplicity and power, much of which is hidden until you delve into preferences.

    For example, Safari tells me that I left the “d” out of admit when I first typed it, above.

  4. Roger Merceron 21 Mar 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Oh, by the way, I checked, and you do have the option to not download Safari. It isn’t forced onto your computer.

    I didn’t realize that until I tried a friend’s computer. I don’t have Windows on mine.

  5. Martinon 21 Mar 2008 at 3:40 pm


    I never said it was required, just that it was a sneaky way for Apple to get it on people’s computers. Most trojan’s aren’t required either, they just find sneaky ways to get on your computer, which is exactly what Apple’s done with Safari.


  6. […] their existing client base to their advantage.  If you didn’t know, check Martin McKeay’s post about this.  If you are running Apple’s software updater, they decided you need to bloat your system […]

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