Software Updates on Windows Need Fixing

Attention Adobe: when I start using one of your products, that is never the time that I want to start updating it. Do not have the “update me now please!” window pop up 3 seconds after opening a PDF.

Can’t you see that I’m trying to read?!

Honestly, though, this isn’t really Abode’s fault. The way that software updates are handled in Windows is badly broken. Some software tries to update while you’re using it, some tries to install applets in the system tray to download updates, and some won’t even check to see if there are new versions at all.

And when you do choose to update the software, if you’re lucky, the program will update itself and restart. If you’re not, you’ll have to go to a website, find the executable file, wait for it to download, and run it. If the developers are particularly lazy, you’ll might even have to restart your computer.

I shouldn’t have to deal with this. Microsoft, you need to take a page out of Linux’s playbook and make an official Application Update Manager a part of Windows. We don’t need a balkanized set of update managers from every software manufacturer; we need a simple, unified system for automatically downloading updates.

Just open the current Windows Update system to developers. Make it really easy for them to add their own programs to the update list. Then users could keep all their software up-to-date without having to touch it. You can prevent users from having to restart their computers over and over again by doing the installations all at once.

And if you’re smart about it, you can make it so that users only have to download the parts of the software that have changed since the last update, rather than every change made since the product was released to the public. (I’m looking at you EA Games.)

Adding this feature to Windows would finally make Vista worth the upgrade price.