Apple alters Windows software update tool

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Amid criticism over the way it was promoting its software to Windows users, Apple has altered the look of its software-update application for Windows. The newly released Software Update 2.1 now features two panes—one for programs already installed on a Windows PC and the other for new offerings.

Software Update 2.1 for Windows

Software Update 2.1 for Windows splits offerings into two panes, Updates and New Software. Applications in the New Software pane—the just-released Safari 3.1.1, for example—are checked by default.

The change to Software Update comes a month after Apple came under fire for the way it was pushing its software to Windows users. Apple’s Software Update is installed on a PC when iTunes and QuickTime are installed. In March, Apple began including Safari as a download in Software Update, even for Windows users who hadn’t previously installed the browser.

The loudest criticism came from Mozilla, makers of the rival Firefox browser. Mozilla CEO John Lilly wrote on his blog that Apple’s approach “undermines the trust relationship great companies have with their customers” and compared the move to “malware distribution practices.”

Apple didn’t acknowledge those comments in revamping the Software Update tool. Rather, the company attributed the changes to its desire to improve ease of use. “In this latest release we have made it easier for customers to identify between software updates and new applications,” Apple spokesman Anuj Nayar said.

Whether that change will satisfy Apple’s critics remains to be seen. In a follow-up blog post, Mozilla’s Lilly calls the update “a good change,” but adds that Apple has “a bit more to do”—likely a reference to the fact that Software Update 2.1 continues to check boxes to download new software by default.

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