After weeks of complaints from users, pundits, and bloggers about it pushing its Safari Web browser like a piece of spyware, Apple finally responded by continuing to push its Safari Web browser like a piece of spyware. The subtle change they made, which in no way addresses the actual complaint, was met with a smattering of applause by most of those who had complained earlier (typical example: The unfortunately named Apple Bows to PC Users' Concerns Over Safari Update). I even got an email from an Apple backer claiming that this was proof that Apple listens to its customers.
Maybe it's time for a recap.
In case you're not familiar with the issue here, Apple recently starting spamming users of its iTunes and QuickTime software via a utility called Apple Software Update which, as the name suggests, is designed to provide updates for the Apple software you've already chosen. This capability is important because Apple's software is either buggy and constantly updated as a result (iTunes for Windows) or prone to massive security vulnerabilities and constantly updated as a result (QuickTime). Apple's Windows users need these updates. It's an important mechanism.
The problem is, about a month ago, Apple started pushing another software product, its pointless Safari browser, to its Windows users via Apple Software Update. It did this when users had never even installed Safari, contradicting the point of the application, which is to update existing software, not push new software on unsuspecting users. There was no way to turn off this behavior either, so if you simply ignored the pop-up warning you of new software, it would just appear again. And again. And again. Forever.
Many responded with shock that Apple would do such a thing. Apple apologists turned the debate around, naturally, by pointing out that other companies (including Microsoft) had done similar things in the past. In that way, I suppose it was excused. ("Look over there! Isn't that Bob Hope? Now what were we talking about again?") But this behavior is wrong no matter who does it. And for a company like Apple, which lives and dies on its user experience, this kind of behavior is unacceptable.
So after the weeks of complaints noted above, Apple actually changed Apple Software Update. Awesome, right?
Not really. Because Apple didn't stop pushing Safari on Windows users. And no, they didn't offer users a way to turn off the Safari promotion. Either one of these changes would have, in fact, addressed the actual complaint. Would have ended the controversy, proving that Apple does, indeed, listen to its customers.
Instead, Apple proved that it hears but does not listen to its customers. And it responded to these very valid complaints in a way that would be humorous if it wasn't so sad. They drew a line across the middle of the Apple Software Update application and simply moved the Safari offering below that line. Updates go above the line and "New Software" goes below it. New software, like Safari, is, however, still checked and selected by default, so unsuspecting users will still install this unnecessary product by mistake, as they were doing before. And every time Safari is updated (for whatever reason), it will be offered to users via Apple Software Update. Whether they want it or not.
So I'm sorry, but this does not address the problem. And it suggests if not proves that Apple does not listen to its customers, especially if they have the temerity to be in the biggest group of Apple customers of all: Windows users.