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Keep Your Paws Off My PC, Microsoft

<rant>

I’ve had it. I’m tired of Microsoft programs taking over my computer without permission.  This time it’s IE7 – yes, I know, IE8 is out, but I could not care less.  In fact I have not launched IE7 for a long time.  Sticking with Firefox, and if I was not so dependent on several Ffox add-ons, the browser I’d switch to would be Google’s Chrome, not Internet Explorer.

So what happened?  Read on

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Apple Was Just Testing You All : Lawyers Follow

Oh, this is hilarious.  All the brouhaha about Apple being aggressive / sneaky … trying to install the Safari browser via Apple Update:

Well, now we know thanks to The Register that it was just a test.  They wanted to see if you abide by the legal terms:

Yes, you agree to only use it on Apple computers.  And if you took the bait and installed Safari on your Windows PC, expect the Apple lawyers anytime.  (OK, not reallysmile_tongue).

 

Update: The Apple Software Update points to this page, a list of all Apple software licences, where, digging a little we find these two documents:

The text in the Update program is clearly taken from the License for Mac, the Windows version of the file uses brand-neutral language, just mentioning “computer owned or controlled by you”.

 

Related posts: Hardware 2.0, 9 to 5 Mac, Ryan Stewart, CNetArs Technica and Channel Register.

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Apple Sneaky, Microsoft is No Angel, Either

I’ve been observing an annoying trend on TechMeme for a while now: when a good discussion happens over the weekend, obviously some writers will miss it – then they sleep on it, come back to it a few days later and TechMeme picks it up as a new theme.

That’s what we’re seeing today with ZDNet blogger Ed Bott coming back to the Apple Update brouhaha and trying to place Microsoft on a morel higher ground.

In summary, the issue was that the Apple iTunes update program all of a sudden wanted to install the Safari browser on Windows PC’s and had it as the preselected default. That’s certified bad behavior. Even worse is the fact that it’s not new at all – a fact missed by almost all but yours truly. I pointed out that:

  • the same update program has been trying to install iTunes on a Windows machine where I don’t have it, don’t need it forever, despite unselecting it every single time
  • the update runs because I do have Quicktime installed, and Quicktime itself is as aggressive as it gets, re-installing itself in the XP systray no matter how many times you remove it.

To me this was all about respecting users choice or not. But the discussion went the “wrong way”:

  • Apple fans are a religious cult who came in hordes to defend Holy Apple. (before you chastise me, just look at how often I point to Apple as a better choice, without becoming blindly faithful)
  • Most debate focused on whether Firefox or Safari is the better browser (IE dully ignored) – nice tactics to change the subject…

And now here comes Ed Bott with a provocative title: What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates:

For the record, I think Apple is dead wrong in the way it’s gone about using its iPod monopoly to expand its share in another market.

Right.

Ironically, an excellent model for how this update program should work already exists. It’s called Windows Update, and it embodies all the principles that Apple should follow.

Dead wrong.

I can’t believe anyone in their right mind would quote Windows Update, known for delivering patches that mess up one’s system only to be patched again and again as the ideal model to follow. One does not have to go too far, just look at the reports on systems disabled by the recent Vista SP1 update. The worlds richest company could not put a decent operating system together in five years, and a full year later the best they can deliver is a botched update!

But since Ed takes the opportunity to place Microsoft on the moral high ground in general, let’s not forget about another recent Microsoft update coup:

The windows live installer, released last September while offered an opt-out screen like Apple does now, then proceeded to install Windows Desktop Search, without ever asking for permission or even notifying the user.

Not only this was outrageously bad practice, completely ignoring the users right to decide what they want on their computers, it was also performance degrading, especially on systems that already had another desktop search installed (see system bar above).

So back to Ed Bott: yes, I condemn Apple’s latest move, but please, please, never in a million years would I think of setting Microsoft as the model to follow.

 

Update:  This window just popped up on my system:

Windows Firewall blocked Foldershare – a Microsoft product, which just got updated a few days ago. Only (?) problem is, I have (I should have) Windows Firewall turned off, since McAfee is installed, too.  WTF is this message?  Or has Win Firewall been turned on by some update, without asking me?   And why is it my job to investigate?

 

Related posts: Inner Exception, Tom Raftery’s Social Media and ParisLemon

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Apple’s Sneakiness Did Not Start Today

The entire blogosphere is up in arms against Apple, for their attempt to sneak the Safari browser onto Windows machines, via Apple Update.   Everybody is shocked, after all we’re more used to such behavior from the (Micro)Borg, but Apple are supposed to be the good guys…

Except they aren’t, and have never been.  The sneakiness hasn’t started today, it just went unnoticed for a good reason.  What’s wrong with the screen image below?

Safari selected as default?  Nope.  Nothing new there, that’s what everybody’s talking about today.  What’s really wrong is the selection of iTunes.  Wait! – you may say, this is the iTunes update program in the first place … Wrong!

I happen to be one of those weirdos who don’t have iTunes on my computer.  This is a Vista PC (no, I am not happy with it, but that’s another story) and I’ve never ever had iTunes installed. In fact I don’t like to have Quicktime either, for its stickiness (close to impossible to kill if off the systray), but I need it as some videos are only available in this format.  

But why is this thing pushing iTunes on my machine, without any config option to unselect it once and for all?  It’s just as much of an aggression as the Safari invasion today.

Now, it’s the top of TechMeme – but where is FSJ? 

 

Update (3/22):  A commenter below warned:

Be careful not to touch the “Thin Skin of Apple Fans”.:-).

Boy, was he right.  Look at otherwise reasonably objective Dennis Howlett come to Apple’s defense, who is turning it into a Mozilla issue, talks about “Badmouthing the competition”.  Dennis, you know Apple is out of line, if this was Microsoft, you and I both would condemn it, like we did in the past. 

 

Related posts: VentureBeat, InfoWorld, Asa Dotzler , MacDailyNews, InformationWeek, ReadWriteWeb, Brandon Live,

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Intuit’s Update Fiasco: There is a Better Way

Intuit appears to have entered a new market, that of permanent file deletion. Whether you want it or notsmile_angry:

“Mac users who installed an update to their QuickBooks software over the weekend were met with a nasty surprise: missing data.

The update caused several Mac users to lose data from their Desktop folders, infuriating many who were hoping to close their books this week for 2007, only to lose valuable purchase orders and spreadsheets” – reports News.com.

Intuit’s recommendation:

“For those of you who have been affected, we are testing out options for recovering the deleted files. Our recommendation for now is to turn off your computer and do not use it further. If you continue using your computer or reboot, you may over-write the area on the disk where the deleted data is stored, preventing any recovery efforts from being effective.”

Hm…considering the type/size of businesses typically using QuickBooks, not touching their computer in the middle of the year-end rush may not be a viable option.smile_sad. Intuit is clearly throwing in support resources, customers can register and will be called back to individually assess their situation. For many, the damage may very well be more than losing a few hours:

(This is where I wanted to quote an Intuit forum message claiming lost file, lost business damage – I saw the post 15 minutes ago, now it’s gone. Could it have been deleted?)

We’re living in the age of crappy software. QuickBooks is not alone, this incident is just more dramatic than the typical update failures. Even when updates don’t fail, they are becoming a nuisance. Last week I just pinged someone on Skype, when my Internet connection dropped again – a “standard” Vista feature, to be remedied by a reboot. So there I was, waiting to resume the chat session when the machine decided to implement 9 updates. This being a ‘screamer’ PC the update only took 7 minutes before shut-off, and a few more to configure on re-start; by the time I could come back online, my chat partner was gone. The two XP laptops in the house are a lot slower, so I just left them alone to complete their 11 updates… experience tells me sometimes these take half an hour or more.clock Who has time for this? Between the applications we actually use and all the crapware needed just to keep our computers running (virus scan, firewall, anti-spy, desktop search, backup, synchronization …etc), it’s just getting way too much to deal with.

By now my regular readers probably know where I am heading: there is a better, safer, easier way. Proponents of Cloud computing (On-demand, SaaS) typically point out portability, collaboration as key benefits, but there’s another huge benefit: ease of mind. The web applications I often use (Gmail, the Zoho Productivity Suite, CRM..etc) get updated just as frequently (actually, more) than their desktop counterparts, but I don’t have to worry about these updates: the service provider takes care of them. The whole process is not transparent to me, the user. I dumped the responsibility on the service provider: they work for me. smile_wink

Are you ready to have peace of mind?

Update: I could not have made this up: just as I was about to post this, I checked TechMeme for updates to the Intuit story, only to see this headline: Microsoft security update cripples IE .

I rest my case.

Related posts: support.quickbooks.intuit.com, CNET News.com, The Apple Core, CrunchGear, MacUser, Macsimum News, Ubergizmo, Apple Gazette, O’Grady’s PowerPage, Zero Day , Donna’s SecurityFlash, AccMan Pro.

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FireFox Flocked: Feature Glut vs. Performance

Mozilla has released the scoop on Coop (sorry, couldn’t resist), a product that will incorporate social networking right into the FireFox browser.

This cannot be good news to social browser Flock (originally built on Mozilla) says TechCrunch. (Flock is another story on it’s own right: pre-release over-hype, underwhelming early beta, still waiting for a 1.0 product). Not everyone thinks Flock is .. well, *flocked*, for example Matthew Ingram and Mark Evans think the more competition the better.

But there is a bigger story here. The initial reaction on TechCrunch is almost unanimously negative – and it’s not the typical Arrington-bashing pile-on.

  • “I hope they offer a version without. I want a browser, not a social network.”
  • “I’d rather see them address the resource-hogging issues in Firefox. If social-networking features cause it to use any more system resources, I’ll need a freakin’ dedicated server just to browse the web.”
  • “It does sound exciting but why does Mozilla want to add further memory hogging features in firefox.”
  • “I don’t want anything more in Firefox until they stop it consuming 98% of my CPU cycles.”
  • “Firefox is still a resource hog. I’d rather see that fixed before it becomes a social browser.”

Clearly, users want their browsers to work reliably, fast, without becoming a resource-hog. I’ve said before, performance is a feature, and apparently it’s becoming feature #1 for many – yours truly included. I must be getting old, not getting this social “networking 24×7″ – heck, I don’t even watch Justin.tv smile_omg

Now, to be real, I’m sure (?) Coop will be an optional add-on, so those who don’t want it can continue with a more lightweight browser. But this mini-revolt at TechCrunch is a good reminder that the memory-hog issue has been present and largely unaddressed by Mozilla for years. I think it also offers a lesson to any software company: even your most religious fans/users can easily jump ship if either something better comes along, or you “flock” up badly.

Related posts: Startup Meme, Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim, Infocult, Techscape, mathewingram.com/work, Mashable!, Mark Evans, Compiler, franticindustries, 901am, CenterNetworks, Between the Lines, The Social Web and more …