The insanity of Insane Great Mac

If you want to see the more shrill side of Mac fandom, look no further than IGM: Microsoft to Release iTunes Spyware.

Microsoft will reportedly introduce what The Inquirer aptly labels ‘volish’ spyware which will scan iTunes libraries and add songs purchased from the iTMS to their Microsoft (presumably URGE) account, engadget reports.

The difference? The tracks will be in .wma format. But their [sic] free. For now.

That’s the bait.

I couldn’t initially find the Inquirer’s story, because IGM doesn’t link to it: it links, instead, to itself – which is a nice way of boosting your page views. Once I did find it (here) I found it was a report on comments over at MacDailyNews. The Inquirer, in fact, doesn’t refer to the plan as "spyware", which is the impression you’d get from the above.

And, of course, the MacDailyNews story is a summary of something Engadget posted (neither of which mention spyware).

MS hope to get you to latch onto their new music service by reeling you in by duplicating the tracks you already own. By definition, this is spyware, pure and simple.

Well, no, it’s not. According to Wikipedia:

Spyware refers to a broad category of malicious software designed to intercept or take partial control of a computer‘s operation without the informed consent of that machine’s owner or legitimate user.

I simply can’t see how what MS is reported to be doing fits in to that category. So, in other words, IGN is simply doing what it often accuses others of doing: spreading FUD. If you want accurate reporting, IGN is obviously NOT the place to go.

  • http://www.dark-phantasy.com Dustin Wilson

    Actually it is spyware. It does intercept or take partial control of a computer’s operation without the informed consent of the machine’s owner or legitimate user. It’s only really missing the first part of the definition to be absolutely spyware or does it?

    So what is the definition of malicious software according to wikipedia (it redirects you to “malware”)? “Malware is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system, without the owner’s consent.” Well Microsoft’s software is designed to infiltrate a computer system without the owner’s consent. It doesn’t damage, but the definition itself doesn’t say it has to. In the end it all boils down to how the software is installed on your computer. Is it included as an update to Windows and mentioned as “Improvements to Windows Media Player” or does it implicitly tell you what the software is before you choose to install it using Windows Update? What about people who use automatic updates in Windows? They’ll never see when this software is installed until they start noticing their hard drive space going away from unknown copies of their iTunes library sitting on their hard drive.

  • http://technovia.typepad.com Ian Betteridge

    Sorry Dustin, but that’s nonsense. Where’s the lack of informed consent? It’s an advertised feature of the product!

    It’s like saying Pages is spyware because it opens Word documents. Or Spotlight is spyware because it indexes your drive, creating an index that “takes away your drive space”.