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Apple Apes Microsoft By Automatically Downloading New OS To Macs

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Following in Microsoft’s footsteps, Apple will now send automatic downloads of MacOS Sierra to newer Macs

Apple confirmed it has begun enabling automatic downloads for the latest version of the MacOS operating system, taking a step for which Microsoft was criticised for with Windows 10.

Apple said MacOS 10.12 “Sierra” will be downloaded automatically in the background for users who have automatic software updates enabled – the default setting on Macs.

Apple Campus 2 headquarters

Multi-gigabyte download

Until Monday that setting only enabled the download of minor releases, such as updates to particular OS versions, Apple confirmed. The change had previously been reported by Apple news blog The Loop.

The change won’t automatically apply to all Macs, but will be enabled for random users over the next few weeks, Apple said.

The company is also taking several steps to head off criticism of sending the 4.8GB update to users’ systems.

The update will only be downloaded by systems running 10.11.5 or 10.11.6, the most recent versions of Mac OS X “Yosemite” and which meet the system requirements for Sierra.

The software will not download to systems that have limited storage space, and if available storage decreases below a certain level during the download process the download will be deleted.

Apple also said the software won’t download while a Mac is connected to the Internet via a mobile device’s modem.

Install authorisation

The software won’t automatically install itself, but will only present users with a notification saying it’s been downloaded. Users can then choose to install it or ignore the update, Apple said.

The change may, however, come as a surprise to users who have so far only had smaller updates delivered through the automatic download setting.

The auto-update procedure is in line with Apple’s policies for the iOS mobile platform and tvOS for set-top boxes, both of which by default download and install updates without user authorisation.

Microsoft was criticised earlier this year for enabling automatic downloads of Windows 10 to Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems, even if users had expressed no interest in the new software.

Users complained that the large downloaded file took up excessive storage space, while some reported the software installing itself without authorisation and in some cases rendering their systems unusable.

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