Did Apple abuse its software update tool?

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Last weekend, tech blogger and book author Ed Bott got an unpleasant surprise when fired up a machine running Windows 7. Apple’s software update tool offered him (and other users) a program called “iPhone Configuration Utility.” Bott doesn’t own an iPhone. He says Apple violated a sacred trust.

6 Responses to “Did Apple abuse its software update tool?”

  1. Drew says:

    Are you kidding me Jon? This was clearly a screwup on Apple’s end but never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence. Hardly the same as the Safari for Windows brew-ha-ha.

    Also since when have the writers of windows books been your Mac experts. You wouldn’t bring in John Gruber to review Windows 7 or talk about MS vulnerabilities.

    I’m sure you’ll write me off as just some rabid Apple fanboy writing you an angry letter, but I’m serious here, why the chip on your shoulder regarding Apple and the Mac?

    There’ve been a string of stories lately where you’ve found a way to mention your distaste for various Apple products or corporate policies or just to highlight yourself as a to windows switcher. Is it because you switched and it’s on your mind? Do you really believe all this? The weirdest thing is that few months ago you ran that surreal Mac vs. PC where you were the–halfhearted–proponent of the Mac.

  2. Jon Gordon says:


    1. Ed Bott is a fair and objective technology journalist. He is not disqualified from talking about Apple just because he is a Windows expert. And in this case, it was an issue for Windows users anyway.

    2. I like Apple products. I’m writing this on a MacBook Pro, bought a MacBook for one college and am about to get another for the college-bound kid, and have about 5 iPods laying around the house. I have no chip on my shoulder. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore stories in which Apple might end up looking less than perfect. And I’m quite certain there have been many more stories critical of Microsoft than Apple on this program.

    -Jon Gordon

  3. Don says:

    I completely agree Ed’s position. As the family’s computer support guy, I have had to repeatedly clean Safari, MobileMe, and now the latest configuration tool off multiple PCs because Apple used opt-out rather than the proper opt-in. This is just one example of Apple violating the public trust.

    Another example was requiring iPod Touch users to pay for the 3.0 OS update, which included security fixes, while making it free to iPhone users. It is wrong economic model to require users to pay for security updates. The segmentation of users was highly insulting especially since the purchase price of my iPod Touch exceeded that of an iPhone.

    Apple needs to match fair and ethical business practices with the coolness of their products.

  4. Steve Rusk says:


    I don’t understand Drew’s reaction. This is straight out a Software issue. We wouldn’t stand for Adobe Acrobat Reader update to load a 30 day trial version of full Photoshop every time we updated would we?

    I’m with you, Jon, updates should only update the program and not add unwanted and unneeded programs. Having to uncheck the box is a waste of time. The only safe way it to keep all boxes unchecked. Then you don’t get accidental installs. As much as I want to keep up with the last version for security reasons. When on the road, I need to get by the update screen when I don’t have time to download the almost 100MB updates for iTunes.

    I help people with their home computers and I can’t count how many time I have to uninstall Safari for people. The way Apple does the update makes many people think they have to have it to make everything work, even MS updates tell you optional, recommended, etc….. well good income for the Home Tech industry removing Apple programs that are not wanted.

    One thing I hear time and time again from computer users that have/get a new iPod is,

    “Why do I have to give the iTune store a CC to be able to download the free artwork for my album? Window’s add the art work with no fuss and it is free with no strings”. They have no problem putting the CC out if they want to buy something but why risk it for something free. But that is another issue.



  5. NH Baritone says:

    You closed the podcast with the statement that Apple is no longer bundling the iPhone update tool and Safari with iTunes updates. However, when I updated to iTunes 9.0.1 about 10 days ago, I had to opt out of at least the iPhone update tool, and I believe opt out of Safari, too.

    I don’t own an iPhone, nor a iPod Touch. (My 2 Nanos are sufficient.) I appreciate that someone is addressing these boorish and presumptive tactics from Apple.

    At some point, it would be great if you would also address the way the new version of iTunes repeatedly freezes.

  6. Eric says:

    I am glad someone addressed this. I am not anti-Apple, either, but I was indeed annoyed by the ‘opt-out’ requirement when I updated iTunes on two Windows computers. I don’t own an iPhone, so downloading and installing an unnecessary program for iPhones is just adding bloatware to the computer. I hope Apple learns from this mistake, whether intentional or unintentional – either way, it shows a bit of incompetence in an otherwise good company.