Software vendors want you to use their software, but you don't always have to install things that pop up on your screen if you don't want them.
Look, people, it's 2008: You're responsible for what you install on your PC.
The outrage is spewing forth over Apple's move to include Safari 3.1 as part of its Software Update program. The new twist is that Windows users who never had installed Safari are now seeing it pop up in Software Update, where they are accustomed to seeing updates for iTunes and Quicktime, and that's not sitting well with many who inadvertently installed the browser.
Short attention span syndrome strikes again. This practice, of trying to get people to install your software through coy tactics, has been going on for years. All the major IM vendors have tried it at one point or another. Yahoo faced an outrage in 2005 over the fact that its "standard" installation of a Yahoo Instant Messenger application included toolbars and this really obnoxious "live words" thing that directed people to Yahoo Search.
Hell, Sony is actually charging people $50 to prevent software they don't want from being installed on their PCs.
That doesn't mean Apple's move is any less annoying, but it's hardly ground-breaking. And in this case, at least you have options. Apple made Safari 3.1 a standalone update option, so you can choose to uncheck the box next to the title and download just the iTunes updates. The company tells you exactly what you're downloading, and offers a link to its site for more information.
Had Apple bundled Safari with iTunes, the way they bundle Quicktime, I can see where Windows users would have more of a complaint. Being forced to install something you don't want just to get updates for something you do want is not cool. You can download standalone versions of QuickTime or iTunes on Apple's site, but sometimes they appear bundled in Software Update and people don't realize they have other options.
But that's not what's happening with Safari. If you don't want Safari, don't click "install."
It seems that at some point people became conditioned to downloading anything that shows up from an official source, like Microsoft, Apple, AOL, Yahoo, or whoever. Remember, it's your PC; spend your installation capital wisely.