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4. Software Update Off-Limits to Third-Parties

As I proposed in the Macintosh Weblog, Apple should open its Software Update feature to third-party developers. Currently, if you choose Apple > Software Update, your Mac connects to Apple’s servers and tells you whether your operating system and Apple-branded programs are up-to-date (see Figure 2). If not, you can easily choose what to download if you want to have the latest versions installed your computer. The system works great for Apple’s own software, but each third-party developer has been forced to come up with different methods of distributing and installing updates.

Figure 2

Figure 2 If Apple would allow third-party developers to distribute updates using Mac OS X’s built-in tools, life would be easier for all concerned.

Everyone would benefit tremendously if Apple gave developers access to Mac OS X’s built-in mechanism for updating software. First, users would enjoy the convenience of having a centralized Software Update feature that worked with all the software on their Macs. Developers would be able to focus their efforts on building cool, new products instead of re-creating the wheel with their home-grown update capabilities. And Apple would profit from a revenue stream by charging developers for this service.

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