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Does everything need to auto-update?

Anyone else getting a bit annoyed with auto-updates?

For some reason yesterday I had the urge to play Little Big Planet on my PS3, only to find out that I had to download 12 updates for it since I hadn't played it in a long time. I then got so bored waiting for the updates to download and install that I started up the Xbox 360 and earned an achievement in Sam and Max, then started building a railroad in OpenTTD on my laptop before the update finally finished. I suppose it could have been worse and I could have gotten a browser update while going to look up a walkthrough and then asked to install a plugin update, a language update (sans unwanted browser toolbar and caffinated beverage Quick Start), and then forced to leave the laptop on for a bunch of queued updates when I tried to shut down.

The reason for updates is understandable, particularly when network services are involved or when security vulnerabilities are patched. However, it seems like the amount of updating that occurs now is overwhelming. It's getting to the point that you never know when you'll have to postpone what you had planned for an update, but it's almost inevitable that something will do so. Link speed plays a part too... it's OK when the network link is fast, but if it's slow for any reason that 100MB patch suddenly takes an awfully long time to download. And, of course, there's always the risk that you're the one special person who gets broken by the update and has to somehow resurrect the system or program involved. I feel like updates are also sometimes abused in a not-so-subtle way to try to periodically force a program back into the user's view, which doesn't do anything for the average user's perception of a computer as a snarling, angry beast.


This blog was originally open for comments when this entry was first posted, but was later closed and then removed due to spam and after a migration away from the original blog software. Unfortunately, it would have been a lot of work to reformat the comments to republish them. The author thanks everyone who posted comments and added to the discussion.