Those that upgraded to, or installed the latest release of iTunes 7.7 on an XP or Vista-based system may or may not have noticed that Apple included a control panel applet for its MobileMe online sync and storage service with no mention at all in the release notes, nor when downloading the iTunes update. This has anti-malware organizations up in arms once again against Apple.
The MobileMe applet that’s secretly installed on Windows machines is actually a "MobileMe Preferences" control panel that allows users using MobileMe to log into the service, set sync options for Outlook or Internet Explorer, and access MobileMe’s online storage, according to ComputerWorld. Users that click around in the applet, and have not yet signed up for MobileMe are taken to an Apple marketing website to "learn more" about its benefits. The methodology on behalf of Apple is what’s under scrutiny from anti-malware organizations.
You might remember back a few months ago when Apple was under fire for sneaking its Safari 3.1 onto Windows user’s machines by way of its Software Update Tool, even if users hadn’t had the browser on their computers to begin with. Mozilla, the maker of the popular open-source Firefox browser, had a field day objecting to the practices Apple was using to promote its new software.
Stopbadware.org, an anti-malware advocacy group founded by Google, Lenovo, and Sun Microsystems, notified Apple shortly thereafter that it would soon issue a "badware" alert for Software Update Tool because of the tactics. Apple soon remedied the situation, however, when it changed the updating tool so that it separated updates for already-installed programs from offers to install new software. If they’ve changed it, why would it happen again with the latest update?
That’s the question that will be addressed within the coming weeks, to determine if once again, Apple used bad judgment with pushing its services to XP and Vista users. It was also noted that Windows users, after completely un-installing the latest iTunes update, still had to select "Apple Mobile Device Support" from the "Add or Remove Programs" applet in XP or "Uninstall or change a program" in Vista to uninstall the software.
While I think its fine to introduce new services and software to Windows users, which is one of Apple’s goals, the distribution method is obviously questionable. Most people probably won’t notice it, and therefore not be affected, but those that are die-hard XP or Vista fans won’t appreciate the invasion of Apple software, even if they are using iTunes for their iPhone. What say you Vista users; Did you notice the applet or not? If so, what did you do about it?