When did software update releases get out of control? Was it the Internet that did us in? Was the ability to disseminate a new patch everywhere in the world all at once with relatively minimal fuss get to the heads of software companies and give them the idea that they didn’t really need to have everything right before the release because they can keep shooting out updates as they fix one glitch after another? More likely, I suspect it’s that most of these updates are required because the Internet has made it easier than ever for someone else to access your computer against your will through someone else’s software. It’s probably no coincidence that the worst offenders are web browsers.

Whatever the case, it’s irritating as heck and I wish that they would stop it.

Stop what? Stop all sorts of things, including but not limited to:

  • Stop sending me updates every few weeks. If I only use your product that often, that means that every time I use your product I have to go through a long installation procedure. I have a fleet of computers, each containing your software. Do you know what a pain in the posterior it is to have to install the program every time I use it? Offenders include Avant Browser, WinAmp, Firefox (though they’ve gotten better), and DivX. Even though I really like to use Avant Browser from time to time, I am considering deleting from my computer because the updates have made it a hassle to use and they have no opt-out, which brings me to…
  • Stop forcing me to upgrade and stop forcing me to hear about it. I don’t want to have to say “No, thanks” every time I open an application and your software asks me if I want to upgrade. Some applications have a nice little check box I can uncheck so that I don’t have to hear about your latest release. Give me that and I can tell the software to shut up so that I can shut up. But astonishingly some software companies, like Avant Browser, don’t see this as desirable, while others, like Firefox 2.0 try to update before you can locate and uncheck the check box (if it even exists). Maybe they can’t understand why I wouldn’t want their latest software patch. Why would I? You didn’t get it right on the first 41 builds, can’t I just wait until I next install it so I can get the fixes on builds 42-86 all at once? The answer is no. Worse yet is when an application will not let me decline updating. One such example is Rhapsody, though I understand that they have to apply new DRMs to appease the record labels and few people are going to volunteer to upgrade to a more crippled version of their software. Firefox 2.0 does this, making it difficult to backtrack to 2.0.3 or 2.0.4. That brings me to…
  • Stop releasing software that is inferior to its predecessor. Though Rhapsody has to cripple its software for DRM reasons, they also change the layouts and because I can’t go to previous versions I have no way of going to a previous layout that I liked better. The least they could have done was have a “Classic View” feature. WinAmp has a classic view that I always use. WinAmp used to fall into this category wherein I had to keep a special copy of WinAmp 2.08 because 2.64 was insufferable, but they cut it out. The biggest offender has only started this recently and has nothing to do with DRM. It has to do with software that adds functionality that I don’t need and takes up resources that I do. My Athlon64 4400 with 2GB of RAM and my Athlon64 4000 with 1.25GB of RAM slow down to a near halt when performing certain Java applications through Mozilla Firefox. I can literally watch a video, burn a CD, and transfer files all at the same time, but I can’t run certain Java applications and surf on Firefox at the same time even when doing nothing else. So not only is it taking sometimes minutes to perform the task, but it’s locking up the browser while it’s doing it so I have to twiddle my thumbs or switch to (and reinstall/upgrade) Avant Browser. Speaking of inferior upgrades…
  • Stop telling me after an installation that my favorite plug-in isn’t going to work. Firefox did this and I’m still angry about it. Lastly…
  • Stop screwing around with how I set up my Start Menu. I am organized with my Start Menu organized in a way that I am not organized with anything else. When updating software they naturally drop it back with the stupid default wherein it’s organized in an arbitrary manner (some have a folder for their company and then a subfolder, others make a folder for each app, some just stick shortcuts to the executables in the main area). I would be more understanding of this if there were no way to find where I put the icons, but with some (Avant Browser… again) if I tell it not to install the icons it will actively go out, find, and delete the icons wherever it is that I’ve put them. If it can find them to remove them, it can find them to know that they aren’t being placed in their insipid directory structure.

So now that I’ve stated what I don’t like, let me tell you what I would like to see: I would like to be able to tell it how often I am willing to update a software package. I would then like to be notified that the updates are ready and I can install them manually or have them reinstall. That way I can set aside half an hour (or more) once a month to be updating software. That way I can schedule it in rather than get a rude awakening when I’m trying to access the durn program.

PS I couldn’t find a way to fit this into the flow of the post, but the worst as far as updating goes is not actually Avant Browser. At least I know what Avant is trying to do. The worst is Adobe Reader, which if opened within a browser will stick the update window behind it. So we can’t see that it is asking us a question about updating the software, but it also doesn’t load the document itself, thus making it appear as though Reader is broken. My employer has lost not insignificant man-hours at work investigating what we thought was a problem with Adobe Reader on a software release but was instead a matter of it finding an update and wanting to update it.


Category: Server Room

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2 Responses to Leave Me Unupdated

  1. Becky says:

    I don’t notice this nearly as much b/c I probably don’t run as much as you do. But, it is a pain, esp. when you start up and you’re in the middle of everything and then it prompts you to re-start for the changes to take effect, and even if you hit “no,” it will prompt you every five minutes or so until you relent and re-start.

  2. logtar says:

    I release a new version of the software I write probably once a week… heck every time the program runs it checks for a new version as its first task!

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