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Apple Software Update versus Microsoft Update

In this post, I’ll walk you through how Apple offers updates to its software and how Microsoft does the same thing. After you see both procedures in action, you tell me who’s got it right and who’s doing it wrong when it comes to consent, disclosure, and treating customers with respect. Look at the evidence and decide for yourself.
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By Ed Bott
In this gallery, I’ll walk you through how Apple offers updates to its software and how Microsoft does the same thing. After you see both procedures in action, you tell me who’s got it right and who’s doing it wrong when it comes to consent, disclosure, and treating customers with respect. Look at the evidence and decide for yourself.
When you install iTunes as part of setting up a new iPod or iPhone, one dialog box is labeled Choose iTunes QuickTime Installer Options. The third option reads Automatically update iTunes, QuickTime, and other Apple software. This option is selected by default. In other words, automatic updating is on unless you specifically choose to opt out of it by clearing this check box. There's no disclosure of what this option means.
For the full story, see What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates
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If you click Next without changing the default option, you tacitly agree to install Apple Software Update. You then see another installer dialog box, shown here. The link at the bottom of this dialog box says the software is subject to the original license agreement and points to the Apple - Legal web page. As of March 24, 2008, this page does not include the text of the Apple Software Update license agreement.
For the full story, see What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates
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During the initial installation of Apple Software Update, the license agreement is displayed in this dialog box. It does not include a Save button. The license agreement does not describe what the software does.
For the full story, see What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates
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By default, Apple Software Update is set to check for “updated software” every week. This setting is not disclosed, nor can it be changed during installation. If you want to adjust these settings, you must do so manually by running Apple Software Update and opening the Preferences dialog box.
For the full story, see What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates
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During installation, Apple Software Update creates a Windows scheduled task that runs the update command weekly. Any changes you make to update settings are reflected in this task.
For the full story, see What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates
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After you install iTunes for the first time, Apple Software Update runs and offers Safari 3.1 for Windows. The text at the bottom of the dialog box reads "Note: Use of this software is subject to the original Software License Agreement(s) that accompanied the software being updated." This text appears even when Safari has never been installed and the user has never seen, much less accepted, a license agreement.
You can clear the check box for Safari and then close the Apple Software Update dialog box, but when the Update program runs again a week later, you'll be offered Safari again. The only way to make it go away is to leave the Safari item selected and use the Tools, Ignore Selected Update option.
For the full story, see What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates
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When you set up Windows for the first time, you see a screen that asks you to choose your update options. There is no Next button. You have to choose one of these options. If you’re not sure which one is right for you, there’s a link to text that explains what each one does, as well as a link to the Update Services Privacy Agreement.
For the full story, see What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates
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Using default settings, Windows Update shows only updates for Windows, and only those that are rated Important or Recommended. (For a definition of the different types of updates, see this Help text.) Updates are downloaded and installed based on the preferences you set up initially. In this case, there are no updates available.
For the full story, see What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates
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If you click the Get updates for more products link on the Windows Update dialog box, you are taken to this page, which explains what Microsoft Update is and how it works. Note that the Install button is grayed out and unavailable until you click I accept the terms of use. Four separate links on this page lead to more details about the software that is updated as part of the service, the privacy agreement, an FAQ, and the Terms of Use.
For the full story, see What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates
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After you opt in to Microsoft Update, it takes over the Windows Update function. When you check again, you’ll see that additional options are available. In this case, one Important update is ready to be installed. Note the text that says an optional update is available. If you click Install updates, only the Important update will be installed.
For the full story, see What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates
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The View available updates link on the Windows Update page leads to this screen. Note that Silverlight 1.0 is listed, correctly, as an Optional update. Its entry in this list is not selected. The only way to install it is to visit this page, manually click the check box, and then click Install.
For the full story, see What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates
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At any time, you can visit Windows Update, click the Change Settings link, and get to this dialog box. Here, you can specify whether and how updates are downloaded and installed. You can also opt out of Microsoft Update.
For the full story, see What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates

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