Where By “Interesting”, I Mean “Annoying”

March 20th, 2008

Gruber comments on Apple’s Windows Software Update tactics, in which offering up Safari as a “software update” for any other of Apple’s Windows applications is deemed “interesting”.

Well, no.

Apple knows how to behave on their own platform. When I talk to Windows-using friends, Apple is legendary for being bad Windows citizens. I don’t think that’s the case myself. iTunes, for example, is often brought up as a slow resource hog, something that I never saw after the initial dog-slow iTunes 4.1 or the initial dog-slow Safari 3.0 beta. (Maybe Apple’s Windows QA leaves something to be desired.) But Apple’s certainly not doing their best to be a good Windows citizen.

  • Installing QuickTime reinstates that bloody fucking tray icon every time. Even if they’ve stopped doing this, putting it there by default is complete bullshit. Just because everyone else is doing so doesn’t mean people like these arcane tokens in their bottom right. There’s absolutely no need for there to be a tray icon, just like, say, there’s no need to stick a tray icon there every time Java is running in a browser. (Hello, Sun!)

    Update: An anonymous tipster claims that QuickTime no longer puts the icon in the tray by default.

  • Installing QuickTime without iTunes is not the default. This is important. People expect Apple, as the provider of a secondary platform, to show that they know how to behave and not bundle crap like everyone else does. Hosting iTunes with QuickTime bundled is fine since QuickTime is what makes iTunes able to play music in the first place. But it’s not the other way around, and Apple should know better.

  • Listing new applications in the Software Update list is wrong. It’s Software Update, not Software Installer. Google, even if they too call it an ‘Updater’, does this right on OS X by making it ridiculously clear that you’re about to install a new product instead of updating an existing product, but even so this is not a feature that most people expect of an updater.

  • More or less silently installing completely new applications is so much bullshit it’s hard for me to stomach. Imagine downloading QuickTime, running Software Update and hitting the “Update” button (and the “I agree” EULA buttons). When you return from lunch, there are two new icons on your Desktop: iTunes and Safari.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!

    Even if we concede that yeah, Apple Software Update should be able to install new apps from Apple, and sure, Apple should be able to point out to you that there are new applications, and okay, these applications may even appear in the same list as the updates, there’s absolutely no fucking reason whatsoever for them to be pre-checked for installation, the same fate as actual updates and actual security fixes to the products you’ve actually got installed already.

    This is disgraceful. It fails the user in favor of serving Apple. It is, in fact, malware-level tactics. You don’t get to push new applications to people just like that, you just don’t, no matter how good you think they are, no matter how good they actually are. Software Update is a malfunctioning application since it can’t be relied on to just update. It fails “first, do no harm”.

Apple’s done three good things for Windows in the past year: they’ve introduced Safari, making it possible for web designers to not have to run out and buy Macs and ending decades of bad excuses; they’ve adapted most products to run well on Vista and they’ve introduced 64-bit versions of iTunes, QuickTime and Bonjour. This is progress, but they still haven’t really gotten their act together.