Is the update burden getting to be too much?

Is the update burden getting to be too much?

Summary: Are we being bombarded by far too many update? Wrox editor Jim Minatel thinks we are.

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Are we being bombarded by far too many update?  Wrox editor Jim Minatel thinks we are.

He has a point.  Take a look at this list that he posted on his blog:

  • ITunes and IPod update. I've commented before that these update way too often and are annoying.
  • The iTunes and iPod junk continues as they also require me to frequently update QuickTime. QT IMO is trojanware. I sure didn't want it installed on my PC and prior to iTunes, did everything I could to keep it away.
  • Norton AntiVirus. OK, this one's partially useful. Yes, the weekly check for new virus definitions is a must regardless of your AV solution. I'm on the fence as to whether or not their LiveUpdate auto-updater is good or bad though and whether to allow it frequent program updates for the 9 application components (including LiveUpdate) it wants to check on top of the AV and Worm signature updates
  • The HP I bought is configured to check weekly for software and hardware updates. The update it's recommending today is "required" to fix a problem logging into an HP support site. Really?
  • But there's actually a 2nd HP related updater based on Install Shield that checks for updates for a different set of applications and drivers. Combined, neither of these along with Windows update has every actually found or notified me of actually useful updates, like the video driver and bios updates I still had to find and install manually
  • FireFox. argh. This one's annoying 2x. 2 times this week I've had to update firefox and you know how that goes: do it now or do it on next restart.
  • At home, I've eliminated the frequent Adobe Acrobat updates by moving to Foxit Reader. That's not an option so I get Adobe Acrobat Reader and Adobe Digital Editions updates far too often.

That a long list, but unfortunately more and more people are finding that they are having to continually update applications to plug up security vulnerabilities and cater for new features.  Some applications (for example, the Sophos AV that I use) seem to update regularly without making any fuss about it.  Other applications (Firefox springs to mind) is pretty easy to deal with but I think that they process could be streamlined.  Other applications, the majority in fact, are a real pain in the rear (iTunes springs to mind).

Jim suggests that much of this burden could be handed over to a central update mechanism.  I'm not too sure about that but I think that developers could do more to make the update process as smooth as possible. 

What's your update workload like?  Do you feel like you have a handle on it or is it spiraling out of hand?

Topics: Apple, Browser, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Mobility

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40 comments
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  • Updates are really no problem

    You just have to understand what you're doing. On all my boxes (Mac,
    Windows, Linux) I have the automatic update feature turned off. Only
    Windows keeps reminding me this is a problem that needs to be
    fixed. On Mac and Linux, I check when I want to check. All the while
    Windows is still telling me (10 or more times a day) that it's a serious
    problem that I don't allow Windows Update to run when it wants to
    run.

    This is the real annoying thing, being told to run AU automatically
    even though you select you don't want to run it automatically. As for
    iTunes or QuickTime. Why did you install QuickTIme if you don't like
    it? It's an optional install? To complain about not liking your own
    choices is whining. Get over it and uninstall it. If you like iTunes, only
    download and install iTunes.

    I only use QuickTime on Apple. I like WinAmp on Windows and XMMS
    on Linux. So I install QuickTime (and it's infrequent updates) only on
    Apple boxes. Simple. Problem solved.

    Was that hard?
    spacecase2
    • iTunes + Quicktime

      You can download QT by itself, or a part of iTunes. You can't download iTunes without it. It used to say this, but iTunes 7.5 (got it open in another tab so I know I'm right) doesn't, but it mentions Quicktime being included in the system requirements for Windows on the left hand side further down.
      Ben_E
      • You're right -

        The iTunes install requires QuickTime to be installed "for important
        application functions". Fortunately you can uninstall QuickTime from
        your system if you choose - no problems either. Just don't uninstall the
        .dll's other app's use.

        Try doing that with IE7 or earlier!
        spacecase2
      • but every time quick time wants to update they try hard to trick you into

        but every time quick time wants to update they try hard to trick you into installing itunes with it. itunes sucks thats one of the main reasons i got rid of my ipod. all i need on my mp3 player is to hook it up and drag mp3s into it thru explorer.
        SO.CAL Guy
      • Neat trick re: iTunes + Quicktime issue:

        Check out http://www.mydigitallife.info/2007/07/19/download-and-install
        -itunes-without-quicktime/ and make sure to get "orca" as the page says. You can split up, itunes, quicktime, and the software that adds the Itunes service. Would be nice to have those separate components on hand, eh? Tell us how it goes.
        intj-astral@...
    • Fix for annoying Windows update warnings

      [i]All the while Windows is still telling me (10 or more times a day) that it's a serious problem that I don't allow Windows Update to run when it wants to run.[/i]

      You can turn off the Security Center service if it annoys you that much. The Security Center service checks to make sure your firewall is up, your AV is up to date, your auto update is on, and it also gives you a warning when you try to run or open a file that you've downloaded from an untrusted zone. If you are comfortable losing those warnings then turn off that service.
      NonZealot
      • Turned it off long ago -

        That doesn't stop the "Imminent Danger Will Robinson" warnings
        though. Just stops any downloads.
        spacecase2
        • I was talking about the Security Center service, not auto update

          Turning off auto update is not the same as turning off the Security Center service. It is the security center service that is warning you that auto update is off. Turn off the security center service and you won't get the warnings any more.

          However... I just tried this in Vista and they've changed things slightly since XP. In XP, you could turn off the Security Center service and you would be done. In Vista, you get the "Danger Will Robinson" warning that the Security Center service is off! Oh well, you could always change the setting to notify you when there are updates and then ignore the updates when they come in.
          NonZealot
        • sorry dude you turn it off it does not give you warnings any more you might

          sorry dude you turn it off it does not give you warnings any more you might need to recheck your settings spacecase
          SO.CAL Guy
          • I think Non-Zealot is right

            It was AU I turned off - not Security Center - thanks.
            spacecase2
    • Only works on a small network.

      Manually updating is fine on a few systems, but when you've got hundreds or thousands, running around patching systems is several full time jobs worth of work.
      rtk
      • There is software out there that lets you do this..

        Through a central server service. We're just about ready to implement it in our corporate network. It'll save them alot of time.
        ju1ce
        • Like, WSUS?

          Works a wonder, despite the WDS bug that stuck lazy admins a week or so ago.
          rtk
    • Try UBUNTU

      UBUNTU has a little flag on the upper line to say that there are updates. You can check what the updates are whenever you want and apply them whenever you want. I find that very handy. I don't even have to check whether there are updates. I am informed and then it is totally up to me when I want to apply them.
      rhomp2002@...
  • Agreed

    Constant updates are a pain in the neck. I think that iTunes might be one of the worst as it effectively completely re-downloads and re-installs itself.

    I don't mind QT too much, but after an "update" it will have dumped itself back into the system tray again.

    However, is it better to know that an update is occurring (as in AV and FF's case) or not? Several times I have turned my PC on and had a sluggish 5 minutes only to discover that OneCare was self-updating without telling me.

    It's a conundrum...
    Ben_E
  • RE: Is the update burden getting to be too much?

    If there were no updates, you'd complain about that, too.
    Adrian, quit whining and find something worth writing
    about. I mean something besides how much you hate
    Apple.
    Landrue
  • More updates or more "stuff"

    Over the years more and more apps, utilities, data, etc.
    has been added to PCs, including massive changes to the
    OS environment. Compare what is on your computer
    now -v- 15 - 20 years ago and you can see one reason
    why you get more upgrades.

    There is also a lot more going on in the developers
    world (including malware developers) and change is only
    going to increase in the future. Basically that means
    more and more upgrades arriving.
    Ken_z
  • Central Updates

    I like the idea of centralized updates being part of the OS. NO, I'm not looking for MS to "manage" the whole thing. Instead, like "add/remove programs", each vendor links its own upgrade solution into a central interface. The scheduler should be part of Windows as well. Ideally, I'd be able to see a list of each piece of auto-updatable software, whether to check automatically, download automatically, install automatically, etc. Basically just some drop-down and check boxes to let me express my desires, case-by-case. I hate to find each piece of software installs its own update manager that insists on putting an icon in the Notification Area! In a non-domain environment, users should be able to accept updates without needing admin rights. In a domain, group policy should let an admin tailor the behavior.
    bmgoodman
  • I like Linux for this

    As long as you've installed the application through a package manager, [b]all[/b] of your updates are available in one place. To be honest though, I've never really considered it to be [b]that[/b] much of a problem on my Windows machines.
    NonZealot
    • Does linux have a patch management suite?

      What "replaces" WSUS for an enterprise in the linux world?
      rtk