Apple made my pet-peeves list recently with its decision to push Safari out to Windows customers via its QuickTime Update software, and I certainly wasn't the only one. The good news is that Apple seems to have finally relented.
A new version of QuickTime Update, available beginning today, uses a two-pane interface to separate legitimate updates to your currently-installed components from any new applications that Apple would like you to install. Shockingly, that even includes iTunes, for those of us who use our PCs mainly for business. And, though the option isn't easy to find, the new version even lets you opt out of Safari and iTunes downloads completely.
To get it, first run your existing QuickTime Update software. You can find it by opening the QuickTime control panel from your Start menu, selecting the Update tab, then pressing the button marked "Update..." You should see an application called "QuickTime Update 2.1" -- leave the box next to that checked, but uncheck all the others.
Inexplicably, installing the new QuickTime Update requires you to restart your computer. Once you're back up and running, launch QuickTime Update again (the same way you just did) to see the new interface.
By default, all the current updates are checked (including Safari and iTunes), but you might notice that you can now download the latest version of the standalone QuickTime software, without iTunes. Hooray for that.
Here's the kicker, though. With the new division of software, it's relatively painless to opt out of Apple's iTunes and Safari nagging for good. Make sure that you've installed the QuickTime updates that you need, then launch QuickTime Update again. You should now see only the updates that you don't want. Now go to the Tools menu and choose "Ignore Selected Updates." (You can always reset your ignored updates later if you change your mind.)
Voila! You should now have a functioning Apple Software Update that does what it was intended to do -- update your software, not push multi-megabyte applications that you don't really want.