“Software Update Channel” != “Software Distribution Channel”

Recent blog posts by John, Asa and Matt happened as my home WinXP computer offered to “update” Safari… something I have never installed!?!

Most comments on their blogs can be paraphrased as “you’re only complaining because its a competing browser”… or “you’re only complaining because it somehow costs Mozilla money”.

Thats missing the point completely.

Here’s a quick non-browser example.

Suppose Microsoft Windows Automatic Updates (which delivers O.S. security fixes) suddenly also offered to download and install Microsoft’s GearsOfWar game? And defaulted to “yes”. Even if you never owned that game before. If you have your preferences set to “ask me”, then you get a chance to uncheck the checkbox, *if* you notice. But if your preferences are set to “apply automatically”, which is the default, you’ll just get GearsOfWar installed automatically.

The very first time this happens to me, I’d assume that the vendor considers “software update channel” to be the same as “software distribution channel”, and they want to sell me their other products. So, I’d turn off updates. Which, by the way, means I no longer get O.S. security fixes. If I was really annoyed, I might turn off updates for other vendors while I’m at it, so I no longer get Norton Anti-Virus updates either.

Agreeing to receive updates is agreeing to letting a trusted other person quickly fix problems on my computer, before I even know its a problem. Sometimes its fixes bugs in software, so users dont keep hitting problems that were fixed last year; anyone remember downloading patches for Win31? (heck, anyone remember ftp-ing downloads pre-1995?) Sometimes, the speed at which the fix is distributed is critical to protect users; anti-virus updates, browser security fixes, and O.S. security fixes are great examples of this.

If people stop trusting updates, because a few vendors abuse that trust, its bad for the software industry and its bad for users.

Its that simple.

3 thoughts on ““Software Update Channel” != “Software Distribution Channel””

  1. I turned Safari (Windows) updates off long ago because it imposed me to install iTunes (how can one do such a crappy soft?). I never found how to disable it, so I just removed the “Bonjour” update program. Now my Safari is probably outdated, but I don’t want to install a newer version, because it would reinstall the “Bonjour” system. So I just don’t use it, which is probably the best thing to do with such crappy programs.
    Down with Apple!

  2. John – entirely correct. Apple’s updating process has been dumb for a long time, such as on one of my PCs, iTunes internal updater directing you to a website and full download rather than checking for and kicking off Apple Software Update.

    It’s very annoying to want to have QT installed for QTVR websites on another but getting iTunes pumped at you every goddamn day via ASU so byebye QT/QTVR and the website I usually see these views on is converting to other formats.

    The notion that Apple will send you software because all Apple software is something we want is patronising.

    Therefore, I think you can rest assured that blog posts about ASU are more widely considered accurate than just mozilla devs with supposed Not Invented Here/anticompetitive instincts. Posts on ACID3 on the other hand…

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