Dear Microsoft: One Central Update Framework

by Bob Plankers on January 6, 2011 · 10 comments

in Dear Vendor,System Administration

Dear Microsoft,

I really like Windows 7. A lot. It’s most of what I was looking for in Windows Vista, and a worthy successor to Windows XP. You left one big thing out, though.

I have, beyond Windows itself, at least 28 applications that automatically check for updates:

Adobe Acrobat, Adobe AIR, Adobe Flash, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Lightroom, Apple iTunes, Apple Airport, Apple MobileMe, Apple Safari, Autopano Giga, Piriform CCleaner, Piriform Defraggler, Dell Client System Update, Evernote, Google Chrome, Metageek inSSIDer, Oracle Java,, LogMeIn Hamachi, Microsoft Security Essentials, Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird, Skype, Tweetdeck, uTorrent, VanDyke SecureCRT, and VLC Media Player.

My life is one big parade of pop-ups, warnings, toolbar installation offers, and auto-updaters. Would I like to check for updates? No. It’s been 30 days since I last checked for updates. Neat. Would I like to install the toolbar? Absolutely not. You need to reboot to finish the installation. Twenty. Eight. Times.

It feels like a full time job keeping up with updates, and it really isn’t the job I’m paid for. On top of it, the constant stream of downloads and the interruptions from reboots and warnings and pop-ups is intolerable. I’ve always been hoping you’d build a central update console for Windows that I can execute once a week, and have it just take care of everything on my machine for me, all at once. If I have Adobe Acrobat installed it could check with some central facility of Adobe’s, download the update, and silently apply it. Likewise for the other 27 applications. Security patches, point releases, BIOS updates – everything could go through this. And if I can schedule it to run on at odd hours it could just take care of everything for me. Need to reboot for a new BIOS, or to replace open files? Go ahead, I don’t care. I’m sound asleep.

You wouldn’t have to run any software depots, just check whatever HTTP-based depot an application registers with you. You could also have different classifications of updates, and act differently if a vendor classifies an update as an urgent security matter, versus a general update. If you wanted to, you could tie it into something like WSUS and let people run their own depots. But honestly, if you just did something to centralize and standardize the act of updating, and then encouraged software providers to use it, it would be the single biggest system maintenance timesaver you’ve ever created for end users. Software vendors would like it, too – it’s code they wouldn’t need to write and maintain, and it improves the end user experience for them, too. Win – win.

Just think of all the good this would do. Not only would it be convenient for guys like me, it would also be great for most of your end users. My mother might actually keep some of the stuff on her PC up to date, for instance. That’s good for you, because people like my mother don’t care that Adobe software has a security vulnerability. All the average end user knows is that their computer got hacked, and it runs Microsoft Windows. After all, Apple runs whole ad campaigns, and bans particularly heinous software from their mobile platforms, based on this fact.

So please, do this for me in Microsoft Windows 8. After all, I’m Bob Plankers, and I’m a PC.


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