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Blog: Apple Using iTunes Windows Updater to Push Safari

Blog: Apple Using iTunes Windows Updater to Push Safari

by , 1:15 PM EDT, March 20th, 2008

Apple is using the iTunes updater in Windows to not only update iTunes and QuickTime, but also to promote previously uninstalled software, like Safari, according to Joe Wilcox's Microsoft Watch blog.

"Earlier today, Apple released the Safari 3.1 Web browser for Mac OS and Windows XP/Vista. A couple hours later, Apple Software Update popped up on my daughter's Sony VAIO, offering Safari 3.1 for download. I didn't recall seeing an earlier version installed on the laptop," Mr. Wilcox noted. "And I made no mistake: The Apple updater offered installation of new software, not something that had been there before. Whoa."

It's aggressive marketing, but also raises some questions for businesses that depend on the Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) to manage their PCs. Anything other than WSUS can be considered a rogue installer. Certainly Apple is not alone. Adobe Reader and Firefox also contain their own updaters. How organizations handle this and set up policies is up to them, but they should be prepared to deal with it.

That said, the Mr. Wilcox calmly pointed out some good reasons for Apple to do this.

  • Google is Safari's default search provider, and Google pays. There's good money to be made in search.
  • Apple's iTunes software uses Safari as the browsing engine.
  • There are hidden PC-to-iPhone and iPod Touch synchronization benefits and obvious iPhone SDK benefits with Safari on the computer.
  • Additional software further propagates the Apple brand.
  • Apple one-ups Microsoft with a presumably more standards-compliant browser than the Internet Explorer 8 beta.
"I'll selectively call out the last point," the author added. "Microsoft brags about improved CSS support and limited HTML 5 support in IE 8, which won't likely be released until next year (yeah, that's the timing I got from Microsoft). Apple claims support for CSS animations, HTML 5 multimedia and Web fonts. Today. Not someday. And it's available without asking."

While the practice raises some alarms for business, it also generated some shock and awe. Apple is pushing into Microsoft territory.

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