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by Timothy Lee

Filed Under:
default, downloads, opt-in, opt-out, safari


Apple Trying To Sneak Safari Onto Windows Machines?

from the nobody-here-but-us-safaris dept

Last week, Apple apparently began distributing its Safari web browser to Windows users using the software update mechanism that comes with iTunes. This has generated a firestorm of controversy, notably from Mozilla CEO John Lilly, who says Apple's behavior undermines users' trust in the software update process. He's got a point. What Apple is doing here is a little bit sleazy. Users who opt to download iTunes aren't necessarily interested in installing or running Safari, and so making installation the default is an abuse of the relationship between Apple and its customers. On the other hand, I think it's important to make it clear that there's nothing inherently wrong with Apple using its installed base of iTunes users to help promote Safari. The issue here is that the opt-out mechanism it's chosen is somewhat misleading. Apple can fix the problem very easily by switching the default, so that Safari is unchecked until the user chooses to check it. Or, if Apple wants to be a little more aggressive, a pop-up window could require the user to make a yes or no choice on installing Safari. If the user clicks "no," the update mechanism should respect this choice and not bring it up again. The problem, in other words, is not that Apple is using the popularity of iTunes to promote another of its products. The problem is that it's not being as transparent as it could be with its users.

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  1. identicon
    Alex Block, 24 Mar 2008 @ 3:39pm

    Shareware does it all the time

    What I find interesting is that people get all up in arms when Apple does exactly what shareware (and other reputable software) installers have been doing since the beginning of guided installations. The difference here is that Safari isn't spyware or adware. Apple's Software Update does not try to mislead you in any way. You don't have to click a "Customize Installation" button, or expand a bunch of hierarchical lists to see what you're installing. Nothing here is misleading. Perhaps our good friend is just jealous that it isn't his browser that's being peddled.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2008 @ 4:00pm

    just the google tool bar bundled with everything and autoamtically check for install, all sleezy

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anne, 24 Mar 2008 @ 4:09pm

    Apple surprised me with it

    I thought the offer to download Safari was spyware/viralware at first, as I couldn't figure out why Apple/Itunes would offer me what I thought was a Macintosh-only product, and I ended up doing a virus scan, dumping out my Prefetch directory, emptying out my cookies file, temp files, all of that carp.

    As much as I would love to fire Internet Explorer and switch over to Safari or Firefox, I design corporate web pages. I need to know what my pages look like to the majority of end-users, and unfortunately, most of the world still uses IE.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Robert, 24 Mar 2008 @ 4:09pm

    It's up to you.

    This kind of thing is nothing new, Microsoft (and many other companies) have been doing much worse for years. Passing Copy Protection, and stricter DRM off as "Windows Genuine Advantage" is one example.

    At the end of the day you are responsible for what you install on your computer. If you are in the habit of clicking 'Ok' on dialog boxes without reading them you are going to end up with a lot of worse things on your computer than Safari.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Thom, 24 Mar 2008 @ 4:11pm

    Not Apple's first sleazy move

    Don't forget they bundled that huge install of iTunes and its crapola with Quicktime... which is rediculously large as it is. First you were stuck with the download, then they changed it where you only had to hunt to find the iTunes install, and finally changed it where you could find the option on the page.

    At least everyone downloading iTunes for the PC has Internet access so they cab use the Safari browser. What tiny percentage of Quicktime users had, or even have now, an iPod or the need for iTunes?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Superfli95, 24 Mar 2008 @ 4:39pm


    Just thirty seconds ago (before reading this post) I was prompted by Apple update software. It clearly stated what it was going to install, Safari being one of them. I unchecked the Safari option and updated my other software. No big deal. Apple is not trying to hide it from people or make it impossible to reject. If your some half-wit who clicks 'yes' on every install prompt without seeing what it is you have a lot more problems then Apple's Safari.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Will, 24 Mar 2008 @ 4:59pm


    Tell me superfli, does the Apple update software clearly specify what Safari is? Just wondering because I'd have had trouble remembering what Safari was by name and I've been on the 'Net for 12 years and a software developer for 20 (DOS and Windows only). I'll bet there are far more iTunes for Windows users who have no clue what Safari is than there are that do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    anne, 24 Mar 2008 @ 5:12pm

    Re: Sleazy?

    I didn't install it, but I'm a tech. The reason I was leery of the offer at all was because I knew that Safari didn't belong on a PC. (At that moment I didn't know that Safari had been expanded to include IBM-compatibles.) It seemed like such a stupid offer, which was why I thought it had to be a scam, and that some jerk had managed to trick me into downloading some kind of junkware masquerading as an Itunes update.

    Since I presumed the request didn't belong on my PC at all, that was why I preemptively decided to do a virus scan, a dump of all temp files, etc., because I assumed that this was some kind of new trick that virus and malware writers had come up with to dupe unsuspecting nimrods into installing junkware and bloatware on their computers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2008 @ 5:23pm

    Re: Safari?

    If you've been on the 'net for 12 years and never heard of Safari, perhaps you need to extend your horizons. I knew about Safari even before buying my iBook (as well as text-based browsers like Links, Lynx, etc). And I agree 100% that Apple is not trying to hide anything, rather have some sort of publicity by advertising it with one of the most used software. Mozilla are just mad because they have no such sort of advertising.

    I love how Techdirt seems to claim Apple only does bad things when their products are, in overall, superior to the competition. Heck even Vista copied their interface (while claiming not to; deja-vu?). I had a good laugh reading this article. Go Apple!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Joshua, 24 Mar 2008 @ 5:28pm


    "What I find interesting is that people get all up in arms when Apple does exactly what shareware (and other reputable software) installers have been doing since the beginning of guided installations."

    Alex, if I were installing a piece of shareware and it tried to get me to install other unrelated programs by the same developer, I'd be pissed.

    I'm not mad because it's Apple. I like Apple. I use a Mac at home. But I don't like what they're doing here.

    Incidentally, Adobe does the same thing: Go to their website to download Adobe Reader, and if you're not paying attention you'll also find yourself with a copy of "Photoshop Album Starter Edition," whatever that is, installed by default. I don't like when they do it either.

    What makes it even worse is that the windows version of Safari is a pretty disappointing piece of software anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    HaloBuff, 24 Mar 2008 @ 5:37pm


    All of my family's pc's have Quicktime installed on them for those pesky .mov files that nothing else will play. Both laptops have bothered me as soon as our network connected a couple times now to install iTunes & Safari. I just uninstalled the update program using add/remove programs. Haven't bugged me since.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 24 Mar 2008 @ 5:49pm

    how much extra

    How much extra is the Safari install? If I understand correctly, iTunes is based on Safari. They may just be seeing this as an extra bang-for-the-buck moment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Eric the Grey, 24 Mar 2008 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Shareware does it all the time

    The biggest problem here is that it is being promoted as an update. It is the "Apple software Updater" that is suggesting that you download and install this new piece of software.

    My take on it is that an "Updater" should only be updating software that already exists on the system, something that is already installed, not promoting a new piece of software that has no relation to what it is suppose to be updating.

    I can see an advertisement, telling you about their wonderful product you might like to try, and offering you the option to download and install it. However, Apple is pushing this as if it were necessary, and anyone who isn't internet savvy may well think it's a necessary patch. Us tech-types hammer into people to update their systems when they are prompted to, within reason. I half expect that my GF's computer now has it installed, and has no idea what it is, or what it does.

    I got the update too, with nothing more than Safari listed to install. Why?

    Although I AM interested in checking the browser out, and will most likely install it at some point, I declined it right then. I'm interested in seeing if it comes back...


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Rusty Shackleford, 24 Mar 2008 @ 5:54pm


    People just need to be careful and aware of what they are doing. make decisions instead of just clicking on whatever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    tbone, 24 Mar 2008 @ 6:36pm

    what it all comes down to is the user and how reckclass one is, when u go to the store and buy a container of milk u check the sate. when you install something, read wat ur doing. plain and simple. but i guess if people read, i wouldnt have a job in IT help.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    cutter892, 24 Mar 2008 @ 6:47pm

    Re: Re: Shareware does it all the time

    I agree with you. If a software UPDATER pops up it should be for updates on software that is installed, not to be pushing new software. Honestly though I got that same updater popup for quicktime and the next thing I know I have Safari. I should have paid a little more attention. So I un-installed Safari and I'm good to go.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Raving Lunatic, 24 Mar 2008 @ 7:40pm

    Is it that hard...

    ... to uncheck the box?

    That's all I did. I didn't feel violated or anything. They gave me an option to try it. and I refused. No trust in Apple was lost. Until Steve Jobs sends the iGoons to force me to install it, you won't hear me complain.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Tim Lee, 24 Mar 2008 @ 8:21pm

    Re: Re: Safari?

    That's funny, earlier this day I was getting attacked for being too pro-Apple. You can't please everybody, I guess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Grady, 24 Mar 2008 @ 8:22pm

    Pay attention

    The problem here, which Mozilla's CEO said, is that it's an opt-out, not an opt-in. He questioned their behavior. Plain and simple.

    I, for one, hate when a program assumes I want something, even though I didn't ask for it. I'm glad me mother or brothers don't use iTunes, or I'd have a call from them asking what it was, and how to get rid of it. Yes, those of us who know and care about our computers, know to to look at what is being installed (in fact, I'm a bit annoyed with the newer installers, since the offer less choices). All they need to do is make it an opt-in "update" and no one will be upset.

    No, I don't hate Apple, I just agree that this is sleazy behavior for a company.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    brwyatt, 24 Mar 2008 @ 8:26pm

    Same thing with iTunes/QT

    Once upon a time, I unfortunatly needed QuickTime. At that time I found that you could not install JUST Quicktime, you had to install iTunes as well. Then I moved to Quicktime Alternative, and then to VLC.

    IE8 FTW!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    WTMF, 24 Mar 2008 @ 8:44pm

    apple should just die. or at least thier software. say no to QuickTime and Itunes adn safari, thier are many opensource alternatives for all three that work with your damn ipod too. thier hardware it prety damn good - put Vista on my Mac book air and damn it flys.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2008 @ 9:08pm

    Re: Safari?

    And tell me will are you just an idiot that clicks yes to an install when you don't know what it is?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    inc, 24 Mar 2008 @ 9:26pm

    I saw the update but didn't install it. It's not hard to click cancel. It's not a big deal; there are more evil tactics out there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    IBOOKG4, 25 Mar 2008 @ 1:42am


    Its right there in black and white. If you don't want to install it, you don't have to. I think after 20+ years of the "internet" we would learn by now how to READ. I remember when I thought I could click on anything I wanted to and rush through software installation and today that is definitely not the case. Safari is an excellent browser on the mac, and I would assume that it runs pretty damn well on Windows because Apple actually knows how to program. And I don't know why people have been so stuck on windows for the past few years anyways. Try something new for a change! Vista sucked balls and still sucks to this day. It was like windows xp gone retarded. Every experience I have had with that OS had left me feeling like I wanted to shoot myself in the foot. If you don't have a mac, try linux on a second partition. And no, its not that hard to install. I'm glad Apple made this move. They knew it would be bold and help increase awareness of their software as well as their impressive hardware. WTG MAC!!! DOWN WITH MS!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Twinrova, 25 Mar 2008 @ 4:00am

    Why is everyone so pissed?

    At least Apple SHOWS users what's being installed (at least, with this "upgrade")!!

    This is a huge change over its Quicktime "upgrade", which installed iTunes without my consent!

    Of course, after Apple did this, I simply un-installed the crap and have been anti-Apple ever since.

    The sad thing here is that, even after many years of computers in the workplace/home, people still have no clue what's going on and that's a shame. It really is.

    What's really funny about the comments/blog here is that it seems to skip over one very important piece of information:
    You have the option to uninstall anything you don't want.

    Unless the even shadier practice of preventing uninstall is used, which happens more often than not.

    Crap, I hate defending Apple here but I see nothing wrong with what they're doing, even if people have no clue what Safari is.

    After all, how long does it take to type in "Apple Safari" in Google to learn about it?

    Put the blame where it needs to be folks: On the uneducated.

    Oh, and IBOOK, this message is for you:

    They skim.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    James, 25 Mar 2008 @ 4:09am


    Let people see Apple is no different than anyone else. Try to vilify Microsoft and put Apple on a perch, if you like, when the truth is Apple is a software company trying to distribute their wares like others.

    I'm not terribly in favor of how they chose to do this, but, I'm smart enough to uncheck such crap there are plenty of others who aren't. Additionally, the software is technically begign (albeit worthless) but my guess is they are testing the waters.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    The infamous Joe, 25 Mar 2008 @ 4:47am

    Re: Is it that hard...

    What you (and I don't mean you specifically, I mean *all* of you) don't realize is that unchecking the box now is a temporary fix... the next time Quicktime, iTunes, or now it seems Safari is updated, you will get that stupid Updater in the middle of your screen.

    ..and yup, you guessed it, it will be checked again.

    I don't want it now, I don't want it later. Update what I *do* want. (aka, what I installed) and nothing more.

    Oh, Apple, you are so smart, and yet, so dumb. How sophomoric. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Alimas, 25 Mar 2008 @ 5:33am

    Frickin Apple's

    That pissed me off when it first came up on my screen.
    The difference between this and things like "Adobe Album Starter" is that it doesn't try to bundle itself as an "upgrade" to software to already have.
    Most PC users have no idea what Safari is and are used to Apple's constant updating and won't know they're agreeing to a whole new piece of software.
    They're very deliberately trying to take advantage, not of us, but of the vast majority of people that don't know any better.
    As soon as I got this, I sent out an alert to my family and friends not to download it.
    I don't like Apple or their computers, but I actually expected a little better of them than this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, 25 Mar 2008 @ 5:36am

    Re: Re: Safari?

    Do you know what every single windows update douse that you install on your computer? Or do you just not install updates?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    SafariNoob, 25 Mar 2008 @ 6:08am


    I just hopped up on the bandwagon and downloaded safari, but i know so many n00bs who have no idea what it is. Apple needs to realize this and inform the n00bs. Just like other people, I thought it was a virus. How about a window "HEY, MAC WEB BROWSER NOW SAFARI NOW AVAILABLE FOR WINDOWS. CLICK YES OR NO!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Petah, 25 Mar 2008 @ 8:04am

    forced to download iTunes as well

    I've always hated having iTunes installed with Quicktime as well. Oh sure you can download Quicktime with out iTunes, but the updates all require install of iTunes. Since I don't have a need for iTunes it either wastes space on my drive & memory, or I have to uninstall it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Luxis, 25 Mar 2008 @ 8:45am

    Re: It's up to you.

    very true

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2008 @ 11:42am

    #27 hit exactly the real problem. Having it pop up once, is annoying and inappropriate on Apple's part but clicking a check box is hardly taxing. What IS a problem, is now every time Apple Update runs, it offers me the same choice. If a decline made the program disappear forever, this wouldn't be a problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Dave Beck, 25 Mar 2008 @ 12:12pm

    I downloaded Safari but it just crashes

    Since I knew what Safari was I though I might have a look. So I checked the box and installed it. The only problem is, it doesn't work. Loads, paints a window, tries to fetch a page and generates a crash dialog box. It says it is writing a log but I can't find one, anyone know where it might write the log file?

    Probably not the best impression. It would help if when you push software, it works.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    Lance, 25 Mar 2008 @ 12:30pm

    Oddly enough (serendipity?) I got the "install safari" window just moments before reading this post. In fact, I was waiting for the Add/Remove Programs window to load when I started reading this post.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    Mystic5523, 25 Mar 2008 @ 1:12pm

    Apple has been doing this sort of thing for years with Quicktime and iTunes. Even when you opt out of downloading and installing iTunes the first time, every few weeks it offers it to you again. I don't like iTunes, I have never liked iTunes, I will never use iTunes, but it keeps trying to put itself on my computer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. identicon
    Clueby4, 25 Mar 2008 @ 4:35pm

    It's sleazy - Sorry Mac fanboys

    Sorry Mac fanboys, it's sleazy.

    It's not an update, so it's a misrepresentation on Apple's part regardless of the quantity of kool-aid you consume.

    And quite frankly, I don't care if Microsoft, Google, etc do it, their wrong too and it adds nothing to the discussion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. identicon
    JW, 9 Apr 2008 @ 10:11am

    Apple acts like they own my computer

    All I want are iTunes updates so I can listen to music and audiobooks. Apple already forces QuickTime onto my computer and absolutely won't let me run iTunes without it. Furthermore with every software update (which occur way too often), Apple decides that QuickTime (which I NEVER use) and iTunes (which I launch once in a while) MUST be RE-installed into both my QuickLaunch and my Desktop without my consent. Respectable software (much less software updates) don't much such presumptions.

    Now these folks at Apple take it to a new level of sleaziness. They try to catch me not paying close attention once during a software UPDATE to try install a completely unrelated application -- Safari (negative option installation). I only want my damn iTunes UPDATEd so malware is a good word for this practice. I don't want QuickTime and especially don't want Safari installed on my computer if I forget to opt out once.

    You won't find me cheering Microsoft but even Microsoft leaves unrelated optional software unchecked by default during updates. Also, Microsoft updates don't repeatedly drop undesired shortcuts into my QuickLaunch or Desktop the way Apple does.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. identicon
    Hannibal Lector, 29 Jul 2008 @ 5:37pm


    To use any installer in a default 'yes' mode is sleazy. Not everyone who uses a computer is going to understand what they're doing. While Safari is probably harmless, the mere method has created a lack of trust between myself and Apple, and I have uninstalled all of their software and cleaned my registry. I wouldn't take that from any software company, it's in the same league as any spammer trying to trick you into installing their software.

    Shame on Apple, but they probably don't care what I think since it will be a cold day in hell before I use a Mac anyway. I learned my lesson with minority computers back in the Amiga days.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    michelle, 21 Feb 2009 @ 5:47am


    although I wouldn't use a mac computer. it's Safari is MUCH quicker than Internet ex. or firefox...sorry

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41. identicon
    Evandro Munhoz, 18 Mar 2009 @ 11:00pm


    I don't want Safari. I even disabled automatic updates for my iTunes. I hated Safari and won't use this product at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42. identicon
    Me, 6 Apr 2009 @ 8:51pm


    Ok. I can see how apple fans are defending Apple INc. They thinks it's not that big of a deal if it's checked off. But it is wrong to do that because I know, that if my mother saw that update box, she wouldn't know what to choose.

    On the other hand, all the anti-apple people you can just cool down a little, it's not that big of a deal. Apple didn't BETRAY anyone they were simply endorsing their product, thy have a right to do that. Also, sleezy isn't a very accurate word to describe this, try immoral.

    For me unchecking the box that installs safari isn't that hard plus I like to know when iTunes updates are available. I guess it's just the constant hounding to install iTunes, safari and QuickTime can get annoying. Maybe they should add a "remind me in days" button. And... If I wanna get the update sooner I can go into itunes and press "Check to update" button.

    Firefox ftw.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43. identicon
    MichaelH, 22 Apr 2009 @ 2:26pm

    Stay focused here?

    After reading these comments, go back and read the actual atricle. This is not about Quicktime, or Internet Explorer, or Vista, or OS X, or anything other than iTunes defaulting to install Safari onto all machines containing that application.

    People are pointing to many historical references supporting both sides of this agrument. However, pointing the finger at other companies does not excuse Apple of doing this themselves.

    Whether you care or not, many of these users do not have a clue what Safari is. Apple knows this, and could have done a much better job in explaining the install to them.

    Furthermore, the iTunes updater sits as a process, continually running in the background, and keeps 'reminding' users that there are additional updates which haven't been installed yet. That is completely unacceptable. If, before, you actually stopped and unchecked the box before clicking next, it makes no difference. The prompt will be back again.

    Apple is a good company - this poor tact really did surprise me. I can only hope they update the updater to default the box to 'unchecked'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44. identicon
    Matt, 13 Nov 2009 @ 11:35am

    I don't want Safari, and I never will, why does this annoying adware from Apple keep popping up. One more time! Just one more time, and I delete itunes! Really apple, if I say cancel the first time I mean it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45. identicon
    Joe, 29 Nov 2009 @ 3:53pm

    Sham, Scam, by any other name

    It would be one thing to offer once then respect the user's wishes. Instead, these rude sons of guns won't give up. Stupid pop upined a several hour simulation on my gaming machine, to give methe chance to decline for about the f ifth time.

    Nothing but bad business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46. identicon
    Tech Dirt, 11 Mar 2010 @ 9:55am

    iTunes 9.0.3 provides a number of important bug fixes, including:

    • iTunes no longer ignores your "Remember password for purchases" setting.
    • Addresses problems with syncing some Smart Playlists and Podcasts with iPod.
    • Resolves a problem recognizing when iPod is connected.
    • Addresses issues that affect stability and performance.

    iTunes 9 comes with many new features and improvements, including:

    • An improved look and feel, including a new Column Browser for easily browsing your artists or albums, movies, TV shows, and more.

    • iTunes Store has a brand new look, with improved navigation for quick and easy exploration.

    • iTunes LP and iTunes Extras create unique experiences that feature exclusive interviews, videos, photos, and more — available with select album and movie purchases on the iTunes Store.

    • Home Sharing helps you manage your family's iTunes collection between computers in your home. iTunes can automatically transfer new purchases, or you can choose just the items you want.

    • Genius Mixes are created for you by iTunes and play songs from your library that go great together.

    • iPod and iPhone syncing now allows you to organize your iPhone and iPod touch home screens directly in iTunes. Syncing is now also more flexible, allowing you to sync individual artists, genres, or TV show and Podcast episodes.

    • iTunes U items are now organized into their own section in your iTunes library.

    • Sync with iPod nano (5th generation), iPod classic (Fall 2009), and iPod touch (Fall 2009).

    • iTunes 9 also includes many other improvements, such as HE-AAC encoding and playback, more flexibility with Smart Playlists rules, simpler organization of your media files inside an iTunes Media folder, and more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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