Suboptimal new computer experience — privacy vs. Mac OS X

I just got a refurbished Apple Mac mini, with the 1.83 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. It is mainly intended for use compiling my open source programs such as Nonpareil for Mac OS X. I am extremely surprised at the user experience of booting Mac OS X Leopard for the first time, and very disappointed in Apple.

I’m used to new operating system installations wanting a very small amount of personal information from the user. Windows asks for the user’s name and company, though it allows the user to leave the company blank, as would be typical for home users. Fedora Core Linux asks for the users full name (not required) and a username. Neither of these seem very onerous, and the reasons for requesting the user’s name are reasonably clear. It’s less obvious why Microsoft wants a company name, but since you can omit it, I don’t much care.

Mac OS X, on the other hand, requires the user’s full name, postal address, phone number, expected place of use (home, small business, medium business, large business, etc), and industry. It will not allow the user to proceed until this information is entered. I don’t mind entering my name, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to tell my computer any of that other stuff without a very good reason. If I don’t put personally identifying information into a computer, that makes it less likely that the information will be misused or compromised. I’m pretty sure that the C compiler isn’t going to need any of that in order to compile my programs successfully.

The pages requesting the information have a button to view Apple’s privacy policy, which explains that Apple collects the information in order to provide an exceptional user experience. Exceptionally bad, in my opinion. I was put in the position of lying to the computer. I put “n/a” for all the fields that would accept that, and all nines for the ZIP code and phone number. I selected “home” for the place the computer will be used, though I wasn’t very happy about it. I selected “other” for the industry.

Apple shouldn’t force the user to choose between revealing personal information for no good reason, and providing false information. They should allow the user to skip providing the unnecessary information, or better yet, not even attempt to collect it.

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4 Responses to Suboptimal new computer experience — privacy vs. Mac OS X

  1. Dixon Hoyle says:

    Perhaps your rant should be expressed as a virus cleverly inserted in the “required” fields. If you feel it desirous to be less destructive, then perhaps a string of emoicons that express your view. In principle, I agree completely with your expression. Could this be why I’ve finally accepted Linux on my personal desktop? I really loved OS/2 though.

  2. Victor says:

    You can skip the registration by simply pressing ‘Cancel’. You’ll be asked for confirmation and told that you can register anytime later, and then the setup process continues normally. You will not be asked for any information again. (In contrast, Apples iWork programs (Pages, Keynote) will ask you a total of three times before giving up!)
    Apple does not make this too clear, but the registration is absolutely voluntary.

  3. Eric says:

    The “Cancel” button would be a great solution, except that it didn’t offer me one, and it wouldn’t let me continue until some of the fields contained data that passed some very rudimentary validation.

  4. Hi,

    There is at least on good reason: The data you enter will form the first entry in your newly created Address book.


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