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16 April, 2008

Au revoir, Bonjour

Apple's done it again.

I updated iTunes to v.7.6.2 last night. The dependency of iTunes on Quicktime is irritating but well-known, so I wasn't surprised that the update compulsorily updated the latter package too, not least because that intention had been clearly stated at each stage of the download & installation process.
Yet I was rather annoyed to discover that the 'update' also installed brand-new software of only tangential relevance, totally without warning or permission.

'Bonjour' is a local-area networking facilitator, apparently, which simplifies the process of sharing printers, etc. and – and this is the only relevant bit – allows LAN-linked computers to share iTunes libraries.

I don't need to share music locally, so don't use that aspect of iTunes.
I don't own a scanner, printer or graphics tablet, and anyway, Windows itself can handle the installation & sharing of peripherals.

Maybe Bonjour does it better, but the essential point is that I should be asked whether I want it. It betrays an astonishing arrogance that Apple believes their product so superior that they can't conceive of anyone not wanting it. Well, I don't. I simply don't care whether it does a marvelous job, firstly because I simply don't need that functionality and more importantly because I will not accept unsolicited software, irrespective of source or quality. I'm particularly uncomfortable about Apple software usurping aspects of the Windows OS itself.

It doesn't matter, though, right? It only steals a few megabytes of a hard drive holding scores of gigabytes, and if you're not using it, it's inert, right? Apparently not. Bonjour works by autodetecting devices & services on IP networks, so it's an always-on background process, which apparently can't be switched off via Windows Task Manager. Until recently, there's been no uninstaller, though it does appear in my 'Add & Remove Programs' interface, so maybe that's been added to the latest version.

So that's software which hides inside another package in order to gain access to a computer, then grants itself significant privileges within the OS and network, and resists removal. A full-on trojan (though let's not extrapolate: no-one's claiming it's a security risk).

Having done a little research, it seems iTunes is not dependent on Bonjour, especially if one doesn't use any networking aspects of iTunes. Hence, it seems safe to completely remove Bonjour from one's PC. offers instructions, a link to a removal tool for those nervous about editing manually, and a way to download Bonjour afresh if it all goes wrong.

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