I didn't want iTunes - now I've got iPod, too?

So, in my last post "Can the EU get me QuickTime N?", I noted that my installation of QuickTime (because I had a .MOV file I want to see) led to Apple Software Update offering me "iTunes + QuickTime 7.5", despite my removing iTunes every time I find it creeping its way onto my computer.

Now I find that along with that iTunes update, came something that most definitely was not advertised:


My first thought is that if they are going to dump an iPod Service on me, the least they can do is give me a free iPod to use it with.

My second thought is ... that really crosses the line.

At least with my inadvertent installation of iTunes, some careful reading, and not guessing, would have prevented me from installing it.

But at no point did I ever agree to installing an iPod Service. I don't have an iPod, so I don't need an iPod Service.

Oh, excuse me, two services - there's also an "Apple Mobile Device" service. And that service requires TCP to be present before it starts. The iPod service requires RPC to be present before it'll start. So, both of them engage in some form of network communication.

Maybe we should take a look at Microsoft's Windows Defender, and its standards for what constitutes spyware.

  • Deceptive behaviors. Runs processes or programs on the user's computer without notifying the user and getting the user's consent. Prevents users from controlling the actions taken by the program while it runs on the computer. Prevents users from uninstalling or removing the program.
  • Privacy. Collects, uses, or communicates the user's personal information and behaviors (such as Web browsing habits) without explicit consent.
  • Security. Attempts to circumvent or disable the security features on the user’s computer, or otherwise compromises the computer's security.
  • Performance. Undermines performance, reliability, and quality of the user's computing experience with slow computer speed, reduced productivity, or corruption of the operating system.
  • Industry and consumer opinion. Considers the input from software industry and individual users as a key factor to help identify new behaviors and programs that might present risks to the user's computing experience.

If you want, read the page linked to, it's got more detail on what criteria Microsoft looks for in identifying spyware - I think you'll find that an objective reading matches the iPod Service's behaviour up with several of the more detailed criteria.

For this blog, though, lets take the overview headings one by one:

  • Deceptive behaviours. Yes. Absolutely, it's running a process right now that it didn't tell me was going to be added. I had no reason to expect that there's going to be an iPod Service installed.
  • Privacy. No idea - I'm not leaving it there long enough to collect, use, or communicate anything back to Apple.
  • Security. Yes - adding a service running as LocalSystem adds to an attack surface that I try to keep low. Besides, "LocalSystem"? Why? Windows Mobile uses Local Service, far less powerful an account.
  • Performance. One more service that's running permanently, that I'll never use - yes, that's going to affect performance, and reliability.
  • Industry and consumer opinion. Well, this consumer says yes, it's a bad thing. Maybe not because Apple is trying to write spyware on purpose, but because they ought to know better than to write spyware by accident.

Of course, Microsoft is hardly likely to use this as a reason for Windows Defender to stamp out the iPod Service - they're too afraid of being sued for the federal crime of 'messing with Apple'.

And I certainly haven't found any reason to believe that Apple's iPod Service is calling home or acting like spyware - so just let's use a term from Sandi's vocabulary, "foistware". [But that may be just because I haven't really tried looking.]

Published Tue, Nov 27 2007 18:41 by Alun Jones


# re: I didn't want iTunes - now I've got iPod, too?

I totally agree with you. I am also sick & tired of unchclicking and unchecking various kinds of additional software that is constatntly trying to get installed on my workstation with commonly used apps.

As far as .mov files are concerned I switched to QuickTime Altenrative (currently QT Lite) long ago.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 3:30 AM by Arthuroz

# re: I didn't want iTunes - now I've got iPod, too?

I've recently removed the Apple Updater application, which I thought would be nice to have so that I can check for updates, but try getting it to not run automatically.

Have you checked out QuickTime Alternative? This will install just the codec and you can then use Media Player Classic to view .MOV files.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 6:43 AM by Aaron

# re: I didn't want iTunes - now I've got iPod, too?

I find it amazing that microsoft installs approximately 86,394 services and bits of software on your machine without consent, but apple bundles the common software people want from it into one package and you write a blog post every month about how this is spyware!

Further, due the nature of the windows platform, in order to deliver a non-crappy experience, Apple must bundle software together, so that when someone plugs in their ipod, it "just works" rather than requiring 12 hours of effort and a PhD in microsoft to get it configured right.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 5:25 PM by Jay

# re: I didn't want iTunes - now I've got iPod, too?

My Creative Muvo "just works" when I plug it in.

I can't remember the last time Microsoft installed something that it didn't tell me up front I was going to be getting. Again, I have the choice - that wasn't offered me by Apple.

Consider this, Jay - maybe if I didn't have to re-affirm my choice not to run iTunes or iPod every month, you wouldn't see a blog post from me "every month" complaining about this software being foisted on me.

I'll stop blogging about it when Apple stops crapping on my system.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 5:43 PM by Alun Jones

# re: I didn't want iTunes - now I've got iPod, too?

Totally agree with you Alun.  I hate it when extra services are installed and left to autostart.  I do have an iPod but even so I never installed iTunes because I know just what a mess it creates.  Instead I use Anapod because I don't want Apple to manage my MP3 library for me.  I also don't need Quicktime and on the rare occasion that I do, I use VLC or an alternative codec/player combo for a lot less than the 20+Mb Quicktime needs to download and install.

Monday, December 03, 2007 7:44 AM by Mosh Jahan

# re: I didn't want iTunes - now I've got iPod, too?

A couple of comments have mentioned Quicktime Alternative.  Last time I checked, this actually installed Quicktime - it just put it "under the hood" where you couldn't see it easily.  In terms of security you're (at best) no better off, and the legal status of QA is unclear to me.

Just thought I'd better raise a cautionary flag for any other readers. :-)

Monday, December 03, 2007 1:10 PM by Harry Johnston

# re: I didn't want iTunes - now I've got iPod, too?

I have the same problem, I have Quicktime (Pro) and I'm fed up of having to untick Install itunes every time there is a update, why can't I just get updates for Quicktime why I'm I always offered itunes + quicktime. Always have to tell it to ignore. Windows Update to tell it to ignore and thats it gone. Why can't apple do the same, with a option to hide itunes

Friday, January 25, 2008 7:09 AM by Gaz Baker

# re: I didn't want iTunes - now I've got iPod, too?

Actually, I am trying hard to think of an analogous situation at Microsoft - they don't seem to offer me "updates" that install extra software, all the updates from Microsoft take existing software that I already have installed, and move that software up to the most current version at the time the update is released.

This "update" to "QuickTime + iTunes" is an update, plus the installation of an extra piece of software that is not a required component of QuickTime.

I have to ask you, Gaz, with Apple irritating the content creators and the content consumers alike by piling extra software on them, what's the big advantage to using QuickTime - have you compared it to other codec packages, or is there something special that you only get from QuickTime?

I guess what I'm saying is, this behaviour is irritating enough for me to remove QuickTime completely from my computers - how far until you feel like doing the same?

Sunday, January 27, 2008 6:09 PM by Alun Jones

# Apple Changes Update Policies - Still No Biscuit

As I have mentioned in other posts ( Retro-bundling - another suck of the Apple , MacBook Air debuts;

Friday, May 09, 2008 11:32 PM by Tales from the Crypto

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