Dig at Windows security wiped from Mac promo: Why?

Apple adopts a different tone in extolling the virtues of Mac security


There may be less behind the change than pundits will make of it, but it's still worth noting that a pointed dig at the malware vulnerabilities of Windows-based PCs has been removed from Apple's "Why you'll love a Mac" Web page.

As reported by CRN yesterday, Apple for some reason - and we'll get to the speculation shortly - has changed the language on that page describing what it considers the security advantages of owning a Mac.

Until recently Apple said of the Mac: "It doesn't get PC viruses. ... A Mac isn't susceptible to the thousands of viruses plaguing Windows-based computers. That's thanks to built-in defenses in Mac OS X that keep you safe, without any work on your part."

Now that has been changed to: "It's built to be safe. Built-in defenses in OS X keep you safe from unknowingly downloading malicious software on your Mac."

No longer is Windows the bogeyman. No longer is the implication that Macs are immune to viruses. And no longer does Apple say that Mac users need not do anything to ensure their protection.

Why the change in message and tone?


Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, writes on the company's Naked Security blog: "Clearly they've decided that pointing out the size of the Windows malware problem isn't going to look terribly convincing unless they are also open about that Mac malware also exists. After all, it was only a couple of months ago that it was found one particular piece of Mac malware had infected 600,000 Macs worldwide, including 274 in Cupertino. In short, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

The "glass houses" theory is certainly plausible, but it occurs to me that embracing it requires ascribing to the Apple marketing department a bout of good conscience. There's not a lot of that going around these days.

So might the message change be less about apparently unavoidable candor and more about projecting a positive message - "Macs are built safe" - instead of a negative one: "Windows sucks."

Or, might there be a whiff of lawyers wafting about here? The "before" message made a claim - "We're absolutely safe, they're absolutely not" - that Microsoft may have felt compelled to challenge legally. And, given what we know about Macs and malware - back to Cluley's glass houses - maybe that was a claim Apple's lawyers no longer felt comfortable defending.

Whatever the reason, it's certainly a kinder, gentler message toward Microsoft.

Which leads to a final question: Could this softening possibly have happened were Steve Jobs still alive?

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