Has Apple caught the Microsoft disease?

My wife keeps getting the following pup-up in Safari on her 2013 iMac running Yosemite:

com.apple.WebKit.Networking.xpc want to sign using key “Apple ID Authentication (date, time) in your keychain

I used to get messages like this all the time from Windows, but it doesn’t seem like something that an operating system billing itself as “It Just Works” should be doing. Turns out that it’s not an obscure problem either, as you can tell from the discussion on Apple’s support site that began about 14 months ago. Here’s a solution:

For some people, it seems that there is a confusion in the keychain between the right certificate and a wrong one, and then Safari tries to sign using the wrong certificate. I my case, after suppressing that unwelcomed certificate, the signing process starts to work as it should… at least for some time. Be careful not to suppress any system or root certificates, which will cause an access problem to their related web sites. The one shown on the top of this discussion is located in “my certificates” in the login or session keychain.

I’ll pass that along to my wife, asking her to be sure “not to suppress any system or root certificates.”

Commentator Marco Arment suggests a cause for corporate problems like this, which might be summarized as “Schwerpunkt locked in the wrong direction”:

They seem more interested in pumping out quantity by way of more upgrades … Apple has always been a marketing-driven company, but there’s a balance to be struck. Marketing plays a vital role, but marketing priorities cannot come at significant expense to quality.  I suspect the rapid decline of Apple’s software is a sign that marketing is too high a priority at Apple today: having major new releases every year is clearly impossible for the engineering teams to keep up with while maintaining quality.

He’s careful to stress that this is just speculation (nobody who knows what’s really going on at the top levels of Apple is doing much talking), but it wouldn’t be the first time that an errant, but effective, Schwerpunkt has led a company astray (this Boyd stuff is powerful). Recall what Toyota’s focus on meeting growth targets did to them a few years ago.

If it can happen to Apple and Toyota, it can happen to you.  What are you doing to ensure that it doesn’t? How do you know it’s working?  Oh really?

4 thoughts on “Has Apple caught the Microsoft disease?

  1. I don’t have her problem, but each new version of Safari appears less effective than the previous one on my iPad 3. Several small bugs, plus it loads slowly. I have tried all the usual fixes, but it just doesn’t work as well as Firefox on my PC.

    A guess – the browser is key software for users, but might be a low priority in the Apple product hierarchy. Aligning corporate and customer priorities is problematic for even the best of companies.

  2. Apples Quicktime video player/CODEC app, used to work flawlessly. More recently,
    it’s buggy, crashes, freezes. A good alternative is the independently developed
    openly developed VLC. M

  3. I don’t understand the fuss about getting a notification asking for permission for something to have access to/use a key stored in one’s keychain. I just want to know whether I should respond by allowing or blocking the request. Am I endangering my computer security by allowing or am I preventing my computer from operating smoothly by denying access?

    • Barry,

      Great question — perhaps some of our Mac geniuses could help. I keep getting a request to re-enter my iCloud password whenever I try to respond to an e-mail. Sometimes I do, usually I don’t. Seems to work fine either way.

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