Mozilla CEO says Apple's Safari auto-update 'wrong'

The Firefox browser is updated automatically, too. But that's different because people downloaded it on their own in the first place, says Mozilla chief John Lilly.

A lot of people appear to be bent out of shape about Apple using its auto-update service to distribute the Safari Web browser on Windows. The CEO of Mozilla, which makes the rival Firefox browser, calls it bad business.

In a blog on Friday, Mozilla CEO John Lilly criticized Apple's practice, uncovered this week, of offering iTunes and QuickTime users Safari 3.1 on Windows through the Apple Software Update pop-up.

Lilly says that automatic updates are a good way to ensure people have the most recent and secure versions of software. It's a practice that Mozilla uses with the Firefox browser.

What's different in what Apple is doing is that it is adding a product to the auto-update list that users never requested. That means they could very easily install software unintentionally, he argued:

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's wrong because it undermines the trust that we're all trying to build with users. Because it means that an update isn't just an update, but is maybe something more. Because it ultimately undermines the safety of users on the Web by eroding that relationship. It's a bad practice and should stop.

Easy for users or a breach of trust? CNET Networks

An Apple representative issued an e-mailed statement on the matter to Information Week: "We are using Software Update to make it easy and convenient for both Mac and Windows users to get the latest Safari update from Apple."

Meanwhile, my colleague, Tom Krazit, in a post on Friday argues that people should become more aware of the software on their systems and think before they install .

 

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