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back to article Skype: Nearly half of adults don't install software updates

A new survey commissioned by Skype reveals that 40 per cent of adults do not always update their software when prompted to do so, and that 25 per cent skip software updates because they think they offer no real benefit. The survey was offered on Skype's behalf to some 350,000 individuals in the US, UK, and Germany by internet …

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"The respondents gave various reasons for shying away from updates. Some said they expected new versions of software would have "lots of bugs" or would crash too often, while others said they thought the updates would slow down their computers."

In the case of Skype new versions often are buggy and slow down your computer so them shying away from upgrading skype is not unfounded.

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Still on Skype 2.8

I'm still on Skype 2.8 for the Mac because I like the compact interface, unlike later versions.

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Maybe people don't want to upgrade Skype because the new version is suppose to insert popup ads into your conversations so you and your friends can discuss them......... Stupid M$

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Re: Still on Skype 2.8

Same here. Also worried about backdoors installed for the NSA, etc. since was sold to E-Bay. Have only heard of problems with later versions. God knows what Microsoft has got planned: a drive-by install of Metro on all devices? Will keep using Skype until they change the protocol and switch off the super nodes.

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Re: Still on Skype 2.8

I'm on the latest version of skype now, because mysteriously after several months of being prompted to upgrade it stopped working. I wasn't getting any "bing" or flashing icon when i was getting messages so it had basically been rendered useless for recieving messages while doing other stuff.

Hmm, I wonder why it suddenly stopped working, when I was avoiding upgrading to the version with in call adverts.

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Re: Still on Skype 2.8

same here, that new UI is horrid, everything is so big for no reason.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Still on Skype 2.8

I wish I was. The new version automatically updates itself ... I'm going to have to search for an option somewhere to stop it.

The last update on Saturday resulted in a blue screen and reboot shortly after initiating a voice call. Strangely, Sunday evening, another update came down and skype was working again as usual.

How about another statement, 75% of people don't update because they don't trust the updates to bork the machine.

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Linux

Re: Still on Skype 2.8

Skype 2.2.0.35 for Linux here. And that *is* fully up to date. Its simple, compact, has no pop-ups, pop-downs, rolling ads, games or other rubbish. Lovely

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Re: Still on Skype 2.8

Not for no reason...think "touch"...."touch" is the new "search" you know....

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Re: Still on Skype 2.8

same here, that new UI is horrid

Yes, and that's a major reason for not installing updates that far too many development teams miss: many users do not want unsolicited changes in the user experience (UX) and interaction model (IM). People learn to use tools a certain way, and when you change how those tools look and work, you create all sorts of disruptive effects.

It's not like that's a big secret - UI/UX/UIM experts, and even just interested commentators, have been saying it for decades. But too many developers, managers, and marketers refuse to learn the lesson.

(This is a big problem with SaaS, by the way, where users have no control over updates. SaaS firms love to spring UI/UX changes on users: "Welcome to our new look! You'll love it!". Idiots.)

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Re: Still on Skype 2.8

Greetings mrfill,

I will now consider Skype ,have thought about it previously but when Microsoft got hold off it, I muttered "Get Stuffed".

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I do regularly update my software, but being prompted to update when you run a prog is very annoying. You generally open the prog because you want to do something and running the update and the inevitable reboot means you loose your train of thought.

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I'm a big fan of the 'Update and Shut down' feature in Windows and would really like others to do the same, except with 'Update Program and Exit' along side the regular 'Exit' menu item. Like when closing a web browser "There are updates available for Firefox and a couple of your plugins, Update before you exit?". And maybe add in a summary of what it does like "Fixes 3 security bugs, improves start-up performance by 10 ms, adds new feature: Foobar, reduces resource usage by %1"

Ultimately I would really like to see verified and tested updates in Windows Updates, similar to the Microsoft WHQL driver updates.

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Anonymous Coward

Or maybe

... there could be a standard system for software vendors to specify the location and versions of update files, all installed using the same system. Then you'd simply have a list of those locations on your PC and a single process would show you all of the updates with a bit of information about each one.

I think that idea might work.

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Can you say "Single Point of Failure"?

Or in this case, "single point of HAXXX?" All a malware would have to do is hijack the list (which must be in the clear at some point to be useable) and you can booby-trap the sap's applications with trojaned versions. This has hit Android as well with "bait-and-switch" updates where the initial version is clean so as to get past Google's scrutiny but then, once it's all clear, release the update that has the actual payload.

There's just some areas there security and ease of use can't meet because Joe Q. Public doesn't like checkpoints, but they're the only way to filter out the Joes from the Mals.

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Re: Or maybe

Oh, you mean like most Linux distros have done it for the last decade or so?

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Happy

Re: Or maybe

You might be onto a winner there, we could call it "Aptitude" because it'd be a pretty good thing.

That said, Windows does have such a system already - Steam updates everything you buy through it.

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Def
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Re: Updating on exit

This is sort of what I do with Project: Merge, only it's a bit more automated. When an update is detected, the user is informed about it (usually shortly after startup) and given the option to download it in the background while they're working and install it when Project: Merge exits, or postpone the update for a day, a week, or a month.

My reasoning was most users skip updates because they just want to get on with what they're doing *now*. They obviously started my application for a reason, the less I bother them with having to restart it in a few minutes the better.

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Re: Can you say "Single Point of Failure"?

If only updates could be signed...

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Re: Can you say "Single Point of Failure"?

There are now a multitude of points of failure, some of the more prominent run by software makers with a sterling reputation for creating security bugs. Failure at any one of the major places would hand you most Windows PCs on the planet. Successfully luring users to a fake update site is a a tactic that has already worked multiple times in the wild. Doing away with the plethora of update points in favor of a single properly bolted down place should actually improve things.

As for your other points, both booby-trapping the list and bait-and-swicthing the update can be avoided by cryptographically signing the lists as whole and each update in the list.

The issue here is not so much one of security, but one of monopoly: how do you prevent such a central update clearing house from turning Windows PCs into Apple-style walled gardens?

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Re: Ultimately I would really like to see verified and tested updates in Windows Updates

They've been casting about for a new cash cow because the old one is starting to get worn out. Maybe it could work as their new one. I mean, I've had the same thought from time to time. A known repository of tested updates certified by MS would be a godsend IF MS can be trusted to maintain it fairly. And that would be where reality comes crashing down around the pipe dream. MS have done too many "partners" wrong in the past for anyone to trust them with that sort of depository - even the users and techs who might benefit from it.

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Flame

Re: ...would be a godsend IF MS can be trusted...

Only if Hell froze over first!!!

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Give it time

I usually try and wait a while before updating anything. Too many bugs and downright errors have emerged over the years in updates for my liking. Wait and see if there are any reports of nasties first.

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Paris Hilton

rely on herd immunity, become a cull candidate

it's a fine line

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Not particularly jaw dropping

"The most jaw-dropping result, however, was that 45 per cent of survey participants said they did not upgrade their software – paradoxically – because they worry about the security of their computers"

Not particularly jaw dropping when you consider the malware that some publishers routinely package with updates...............

Unless the Ask toolbar and changing one's search default to Ask is, by some peculiar mechanism I have never understood, an integral and highly specific requirement without which Java RTE will not function.

Are you listening, Scum ^h^h^h^h Sun

And yes, before anyone say otherwise; the Ask toolbar installer IS malware. It is set to install the Ask toolbar and perform other equally unwanterd acts by default. If it WAS benign (and actually good enough to be wanted on its own merit), the installation would be a se[parate download and require a conscious decision to install, becoming most assurealy opt IN.

Same! goes! for! those! other! parasites! at! Ya! bloody! hoo! and! their! sodding! toolbar!

Toodleoo

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Re: Not particularly jaw dropping

Yeah, I was getting fed up with a Upgrade Java prompt every two days...

So I uninstalled it.

I don't visit science education sites as much as I maybe should (gravity simulators, and similar applets), so don't really miss it.

The average user is right: "Why is the bloody computer pestering me to so stuff? That is its job FFS! What the ^& does this mean? I just want to write a letter like I did on every computer since 1989!"

I can't say that they are wrong.

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Re: Not particularly jaw dropping

I'd say that's a problem if you want something with all the freedom and flexibility of a computer but none of thre responsibility and just expect it to wipe your bottom for you.

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Re: Not particularly jaw dropping

@Toad

I can wipe my own bottom, thanks, just as I can equally well select the installation of any irrelevant, unwanted and unnecessary software I want. I object to bottom-feeding parasiteware publishers who insist I will want my bottom wiped with their product.

Its not so much about having responsibility or not, what I object to is utterly irrelevant software being bundled with an update and the publisher having the brass neck to assume that everyone would want his crudware.

If you really consider the antics of Ya! bloody! hoo! and Scum ^h^h^h^h Sun are actually acceptable, can I then safely assume that, unless you make the specific effort to reply otherwise, you'll consider it OK for me to pop round and interfere with *_your_* property?

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Coat

"Scum ^h^h^h^h Sun"

You do know that the target of your "hilarious" insult no longer exists? You must mean "Bollocale"...

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Re: "Scum ^h^h^h^h Sun"

Sorry if I mistyped. I was SURE the name Sun had moved on, but couldn't think for the life of me what it was.

Thanks for the suggestion. "Bollocale" is good, but doesn't (in my view anyway) convey enough contempt.

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Not as ridiculous as you are suggesting

"The most jaw-dropping result, however, was that 45 per cent of survey participants said they did not upgrade their software – paradoxically – because they worry about the security of their computers."

This is not as ridiculous as you are suggesting. There is various malware that mimics software update warnings. Less tech-savvy users may be reluctant to click on an update in case they have judged it wrong and actually opened up a virus. This is certainly the case with my parents who are very reluctant to upgrade their software.

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Re: Not as ridiculous as you are suggesting

Those popups that appear like a windows dialog saying "WARNING!! VIRUSESES DETECTED!!! DOWNLOAD THIS TO FIX!!!!"

You warn them to ignore these popups, then every other application pops up to upgrade.

Top offenders of seemingly constant upgrades:

- Skype

- Firefox

- Adobe Flash

- Java runtime

Every now and then Windows takes a notion to take an entire morning installing 70 updates.

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Coat

Well, speaking specifically about Skype...

I have eschewed their updates because:

1) They keep playing hide and seek with features that I like and use (e.g. the ability to send my contact list to someone else)

2) I'm tired of the oh-so-cutsie-poo UI changes that accompany each update, and make it harder to find functionality I like and use (see 1) above; a.k.a. "Metro Syndrome")

Skype does add some useful new functionality periodically to their updates, but it's just not worth the time twiddling with the interface to find where they put it this time.

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Fecking Mozilla

Given how many updates were simply "change for change sake" and not bug fixes, it's no bloody wonder users were up in arms, given they then had to spend some time adjusting to the interface tweaks.

Couple that with all those fake "update" notices along with various MS Update blunders and I think users have a damned good reason for not updating every time they're prompted to.

Geeks want the latest and greatest. Everyone else just want something that mostly works.

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Thumb Down

Re: Fecking Mozilla

Mozilla are one of the few that recognise the problem. What you want is the Extended Support Release of Firefox. Bugfixes only, not new features you never asked for.

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Its a psychology 1-2-3.. The safest bet is to say no..

I consider myself quite 'tech-savvy'' but a lot of these popups I don't know how to answer myself. It's more like if I say yes, I might be doomed but if I say no I might be doomed as well.

The problem with these auto-updaters is that you don't know who is asking you the question, the producer of the product or the hacker that has hacked the update protocol of that product, to infect you with a virus..

At least on windows when you install something through the windows installer you get a windows popup with a signed certifficate of what the company is that is trying to install stuff on your machine.

So when you really choose to install some software with a unknown certificate you know you are putting yourself at risk.

Maybe windows elevation should have been a lot stronger, and just not allowed in program elevation.. But as many windows users were complaining already about elevation, I guess user convenience did win against safety one more time...

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Paris Hilton

Ha, that's arssing ironic

I was on an important call using skype the other day and the bloody thing updated itself and sodding cut us off! It's possible I accidentaly clicked on something to allow it do so as it was bugging me earlier that day to update and maybe I misclicked during one of those moments when windows slows the F down and the screen does not repaint correctly but even so, you'd think they'd bloody wait until you've finished your call!

The effing cheek! Thanks Microsoft! I would literally offer out Steve Ballmer to a pub carpark fight if it ever happens again - so annoying!

Paris because I can imagine her standing on sidelines outside the pub saying "he aint worth it Steve!"

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Re: Ha, that's arssing ironic

"I was on an important call using skype"

No, sorry, you weren't, if it _was_ important, it wouldn't be via skype.

You're precisely the sort of people that use the phrase "mission critical" to describe a DSL circuit.

Prawn.

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WTF?

Re: Ha, that's arssing ironic

Neil Greatorex,

All of my calls to my Fianceé are important and all of them are conducted over Skype. I live in the UK and she lives in Hong Kong. Other family members are also geographically distributed, my Sister lives in New Zealand and my parents in South Wales and using Skype as become as important as the regular telephone or snail mail.

If for some reason Skype doesn't work; I use Linux, my Fianceé uses iOS then we resort to alternative options.

I don't describe DSL as mission critical, I describe it as the cheapest available option, but it is not the only option. I seem to manage quite well with Lebara Sim card for DR/BCP.

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FAIL

Re: Ha, that's arssing ironic

Important is not the same as critical.

Calling my inlaws on the other side of the planet is important, but nobody is going to die if it breaks down so I'm not going to spend £2.50 a minute for a shitty international line when I can pay 5p a minute for a reasonable VOIP line.

Oh yes, and Skype is generally more reliable and better quality than international phone lines anyway.

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Happy

I am not a Prawn

"You're precisely the sort of people that use the phrase "mission critical" to describe a DSL circuit."

No I'm not. LOL I would upvote you actually as you do make me laugh but I cant be bothered, doing so isint mission critical enough!

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Re: Ha, that's arssing ironic

I remember when I used to work for a company which produced Windows applications.

XP used to have this notion of having an update popup appear in focus when it wanted attention.

Therefore around every update tuesday we used to get support tickets of the following:

"I was typing into your application when all of a sudden it restarted Windows."....

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Happy

Re: I am not a Prawn

Whoever downvoted me is a prawn and the sort of person who would describe a DSL circuit as mission critical.

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Update on exit

How hard is it? Take Opera's approach to updating. Don't tell the user to drop everything and update now, ask the user if he would like the update to be downloaded and applied on exit/restart automatically. You obviously need the pop-up unless you've allowed the program to update automatically but now you can just decide whether or not you want to update and then continue with what you were doing either way.

Then when you're done with what you're doing, you close the program and it updates itself. This would make updating many programs so much less painful (I'm looking at you, Windows.) I would install updates a lot more frequently if I could just tell all my programs to go ahead and download their respective updates, then install them sequentially and shut down.

Alternatively, get with the times and allow programs to modify files in use so you can take the Linux approach. Start the program AND install the update at the same time without every updater having to worry about how to handle this without breaking something.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Update on exit

Or the Chrome approach and just do it without asking or telling anyone you've done it. If they can't see it's happened then they won't complain, ignorance is bliss, and frankly some people are better off ignorant.

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Re: Update on exit

Or my approach, disable automatic "updating" to everything.

No XP updates since 2004 - yay. 9 year old PC still running sweet as a nut.

Before the "you must be riddled" brigade gets started, nope. Am sat behind a FW, go figure! <- never understood that particular phrase, go make a clay model? go work out some maths? ?????

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RE: just do it without asking

That is what FireFox was doing when I got the support call telling me that the (java script) payment transaction had frozen, and the user didn't know if the payment had completed, or WTF?

Just silently breaking without asking.

I have the luxury of AD and a WSUS server, so for Windows all my users have silent automatic updates only for components that are not presently in use.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Neil

Surely you realise, that if you actually USE a computer for anything - that firewall by itself isn't going to protect you.

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Def
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Re: Update on exit

Opera doesn't install updates on exit, it downloads them when it can, and installs them on startup.

The reason Windows doesn't let you modify executable files while they're running/in use is a side effect of how it loads executables and DLLs. It merely memory-maps all executable files into the process address space, which is the fastest way to load a file in Windows (no intermediary copies, etc). This is also why the system swap file never includes executable code - the kernel doesn't need to swap out executable code because it knows that memory is already backed up on disk by a file.

Exactly how you would safely update a Windows application while it's running and cover all the potential nightmares of what to do when that application tries to read or write to its data files during or after the update without it crashing, I really don't know. I'm not convinced Linux does it perfectly - if at all - either.

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Re: Update on exit

It's true, you really don't know.

Linux (and other modern Unix-like systems) has the concept of the inode that is separate from the filename. The filename is merely a link between the directory structure and the inode, and a file can have more than one link. When the number of links reaches 0, then the file is deleted.

http://www.thelinuxlink.net/lvlinux/resources/commands/ln.html

So, when a program is running, it creates an in-memory link to the inode. It's possible to remove the file from the directory structure, deleting it, but it will still be on disk because the in-memory links keep the number of links from reaching 0.

It's not perfect, if you consider badly written programs. Some programs depend on files that load after the program loads, and the in-memory link thing can cause confusion. Many times people have been working on a file, deleted the old version, hit save, and then found that the new version was not there. That's because the program was holding onto the file's inode, and didn't verify that the inode still had a link to the directory structure when the user hit save.

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