So, Steve Jobs made good on his promise to push the Safari web browser to Windows users via the Apple Software Update mechanism. Now the blogosphere has spoken. But the issue isn't whether Apple is right or wrong, or good or evil, it's why Apple has decided to make this move in the first place that important.
It's all to do with platform. For years, Apple has played dirty tricks and tried to tie iTunes and QuickTime together so that one pushed the other, but in the big scheme of things Safari was unimportant. It was nothing more than a minority web browser stuck on the Mac OS. Now Safari has become big news, not because of the Mac OS but because it's the browser shipped on the iPhone and the iPod touch. This has propelled the browser out from obscurity and thrust it into the limelight.
To you and me Safari might be no more than a web browser, but to Apple it's a platform. Apple wants to see developers building sites and web apps that work on the browser, and the larger market share the browser has, the more developers will climb on board. While Apple spends a lot of time criticizing Windows and claiming that the Mac OS is far better and superior to it, Microsoft has something that Apple doesn't have - a massive market share. By abusing the trust of these users, Apple is demonstrating that it's a company comfortable with using tactics more suited to malware distribution to make a grab for more users. Users, are of course, caught up in the crossfire. But that doesn't matter ...
I don't like the fact that Apple is putting Safari into a software updater and offering it on systems that don't already have Safari installed, I don't like the fact that the option is pre-checked. But what really annoys me is that Apple doesn't extend me the courtesy of remembering that I've said no once, twice, or half a dozen times and quit offering me Safari over and over again (which makes the "think before you install" argument moot). This is the point where Apple crossed the line from being annoying, to being evil. Sure, it's evil with a small "e" but it's still evil.
Apple, you're on the list. I'm going to be keeping my eye on you.