Tuesday, March 25, 2008

In response to Ed Bott about the Safari install controversy

I was looking through my Google Analytics logs because I read that Scott Hansleman had just discovered them and I hadn't looked for a while. Then I noticed that I was getting some referrals from Ed Bott and I thought what was that about, so I go to the blog, do some inline searching for references to me, and I see that Ed has called me out, saying I was "double wrong" about how Apple is installing Safari on Windows boxes in his post What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates. Here's what he said about me:

Unfortunately, some people who spend most of their time in the Apple universe believe what they hear about the monster from Redmond, which leads even very smart people like the normally perceptive Dave Murdock, whose Inner Exception blog is on my must-read list, to get it absolutely backwards: Windows Update (now Microsoft Update) pushes new software on [users], Silverlight is the latest example. That’s wrong. Double wrong, in fact. Windows Update is not the same as Microsoft Update.

I posted this in response:

Ed, This is Dave Murdock @ Inner Exception. Thanks for saying I am on your must read list, but I think you misunderstood what I was saying a bit. Here is what I said (I corrected the typo you caught, thx): "...I think Apple has to more clearly label the two groups of software in that screenshot [the one I presented], upgrades and new installs. I don't care at all that the application itself is called Software Update, Windows Update (now Microsoft Update) pushes new software on users, Silverlight is the latest example." I could have been clearer on the relationship between Windows Update and Microsoft Update. I commented on this on my blog, the gist is I think Microsoft Update should be the default. It's optional right now, but I think that's the wrong behavior. If my mom was still running Windows, I don't think she would understand the nuance here and would want updates to everything from Microsoft right out of the box. Technically, it's just a flag to the Windows Update service that says give me updates for everything Microsoft. On my Windows boxes, one of the first things I do it enable Microsoft Update, so I haven't seen the non-Microsoft Update in years. Microsoft Update does obviously offer Silverlight (just an example) as an optional install. My point is, I think it makes total sense to offer users Updates and New Installs in an integrated place. I don't think, like Apple did in this case, you can just combine both updates and new install into one flat list, clearly that's wrong. I actually want both Microsoft and Apple to take it a step further, and integrate 3rd-party application update management into one combined UI. Why in 2008, do I have to have 42 (a scientific estimate) pieces of update software running on either OS? Why isn't this an API already? I am not looking for something as complicated and restricted as the App Store coming to the iPhone 2.0, but wouldn't an RSS feed do the job?

One more thing, I don't spend most of my time in the Apple universe. I blog a lot about Apple because there is a lot interesting going on with Apple, which may account for the misunderstanding, but I actually spend a large chunk of my time in the Microsoft universe. As for whether the beast from Redmond has mutated into a monster, that's a a topic for another post. I'll say this, both Microsoft and Apple are huge companies with lots of individuals making decisions. It seems like over the last few years, Apple has been making more correct decisions with regard to the markets they operate in and the products they build, and Microsoft not so much. Of course, like in this instance, a company as big as Apple is going to get stuff wrong. What amuses me is that whenever Apple messes up, bloggers in the Microsoft universe fall all over themselves to make sure they document their outrage, because this will be the Apple misstep that proves Apple is no better than Microsoft, as if Apple has to be perfect and if they are less than that, it's OK to stick with Microsoft Mediocrity Edition. The truth is, Microsoft has been messing up for so long and in so many ways, Apple would have to have a near total collapse to equal the ineptitude that Microsoft has been demonstrating over the last few years. I mean, you only have to look at the Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death fiasco to see how bad Apple would have to be to equal Microsoft. I am not saying that this is what Ed did here, I agree with most of what he says, but a lot of the coverage on this issue has been ridiculous.