Software updates over the internet are fast, free… and not always necessary. Has the speed and opportunity to constantly release new versions made developers less inclined to get things right first time?
Let’s just look at a 24-hour period of my life last week.
I woke up to find my PC had automatically rebooted itself after a Windows System Update. It was Patch Tuesday (a ‘patch’ being the term given to fixing a bug or filling a gaping security hole) – when Microsoft rolls out its monthly fix for things that might leave your PC open to attack. Fine – once a month I can live with.
A whole day of updates
Arriving at work, there was a flashing icon in the bottom right hand corner of my screen telling me that updates to Adobe Photoshop, Acrobat and some applications I never use were ready and waiting.
I powered up Tweetdeck to respond to some of @WhichTech’s followers, to find that Tweetdeck (in its infinite wisdom) thought I’d benefit from upgrading from version 0.37.1 to 0.37.2.
Not only this, but Adobe Air, the platform that increasing amounts of software runs on, also claimed to be out of date and in need of an upgrade! That’s at least two valuable minutes of my life spent updating software to deliver features I didn’t know I needed.
Mobiles are just as bad
I tried to keep my eyes away from my mobile(s). Hardly a day goes by without my Android phone popping up an icon indicating that one of my many apps has been updated, probably to fix a compatibility issue with a specific handset I don’t even own.
And on my iPhone, there was a tantalising number next to the App Store icon showing just how horrendously I’m lagging behind in the ever-updated world of apps.
Too tempting to ignore
These software updates are getting to the same ‘un-ignorable’ stage as the ‘you have new email’ icon. In the same way that not clicking to read that new email message is unthinkable, not updating an app to a new and improved version makes me yesterday’s man.
Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s brilliant that software developers are constantly improving their products, tweaking things, adding new functionality, and making things better. No-one can possibly miss the days when updates were few and far between, arrived on a CD-Rom and took an age to install.
But haven’t we gone too far in the other direction? Updates are great, but let’s make sure that developers aren’t releasing products too early, knowing they can update with every little improvement.
Unless it’s a matter of life and death for internet security, once-a-month updates suit me fine.