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Calm Down Windows Fans, Apple Is Not Getting a Free Pass

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Apple CEO Tim Cook, left, greets the crowd with U2 singer Bono as The Edge and Larry Mullen Jr look on.Photograph by Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

To hear critics tell it, the media—including Fortune—are determined to bash Microsoft at every opportunity. Worse yet, they claim, the press are in the bag for Apple, ignoring big Apple snafus while turning a microscope on what Microsoft does. Their proof? Exhibit A, they claim, is the latest spate of stories about how Microsoft is handling an upgrade to Windows 10 from older versions of the operating system.

The criticism that Microsoft (MSFT) quietly switched the process—even changing an on-screen check box that once stopped the upgrade into an agreement to upgrade—is just another example of the kind of Microsoft coverage that’s got the pro-Windows folks in a lather.

“Why don’t you apply the same gimlet-eyed scrutiny to Apple (AAPL) updates?” they asked. To which my response was initially: “This sounds wrong,” but then evolved into: “Let me look into it.”

‘Sneaky’ Windows 10 Update Raises a Ruckus

So I did, and here’s what I found: In recent months Fortune alone has detailed a series Apple iOS operating system update faux pas here, and here, and here. Oh, and here too. Across the internet, there were even more stories about how the latest iOS update could wreak havoc on iPads. That same story was recounted here, here, and here. Does this sound like the media is closing ranks around Infinite Loop?

One former colleague agreed that Apple gets off easy in comparison to Microsoft. If Microsoft did what Apple did with Quicktime (it discontinued support for the multimedia player on Windows) it would have been a full week news cycle, he noted. And guess what, it was! There were many stories about Apple deadending Quicktime for Windows. Fortune alone covered it three times in the space of a week: here, here, and here.

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And not even the most vociferous Windows jockeys can deny the furor provoked two years ago, after the Apple iTunes’ devious U2 album giveaway. That little adventure was, by all accounts, spectacularly misguided and led to an apology from Bono. From Bono for God’s sake! That snafu was covered by every outlet from Wired to Fortune’s sibling publication Time to well, everyone.

For more on Bono, watch:

So fanboys on both sides of the aisle need to take a moment to ponder why two multi-billion-dollar tech behemoths with an army of PR people at their disposal need unpaid foot soldiers to fight their battles for them. But maybe that’s why you don’t hear Microsoft or Apple cry foul over free passes—they already know that product evangelists provide publicity that money can’t buy.