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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  1. mark l 2 Silver badge

    "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.

    1. PlunderBunny

      Still on Skype 2.8

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

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        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.

        1. wowfood

          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

      2. hexx

        Re: Still on Skype 2.8

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

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          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.)

      3. mrfill
        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

        1. elderlybloke
          Linux

          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".

    2. Thorne

      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$

  2. jonathanb Silver badge

    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.

    1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          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.

          1. Tom Chiverton 1

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

            If only updates could be signed...

          2. Rob Carriere

            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?

        2. Neil Lewis

          Re: Or maybe

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

        3. Richard 12 Silver badge
          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.

      2. Def Silver badge

        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.

      3. Tom 13

        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.

        1. Fatman Silver badge
          Flame

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

          Only if Hell froze over first!!!

  3. David 45

    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.

    1. Mike VandeVelde
      Paris Hilton

      rely on herd immunity, become a cull candidate

      it's a fine line

  4. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    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

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      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.

      1. toadwarrior

        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.

        1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

          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?

          1. DuncanL
            Coat

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

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

            1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

              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.

  5. David Swallow
    Meh

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

  6. Someone Else Silver badge
    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.

  7. Alan Brown Silver badge

    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.

    1. Nigel 11
      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.

  8. Majid

    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...

  9. LinkOfHyrule
    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!"

    1. Neil Greatorex

      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.

      1. Richard Crossley
        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.

      2. Richard 12 Silver badge
        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.

      3. LinkOfHyrule
        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!

        1. LinkOfHyrule
          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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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."....

  10. Remy Redert

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. david 12 Silver badge

        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.

    2. Neil Greatorex

      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? ?????

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

    3. Def Silver badge

      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.

      1. Decade

        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.

        1. Def Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Update on exit

          Yes, I understand how inodes work.

          My point was you can't rely on that mechanism working for what you called 'badly written' programs. Any application can reopen any of its files at any time whether to load data for a user-initiated operation, or save state/configuration changes. (A common optimsation technique of lazy-loading actively encourages not opening files until they're needed.) If those files have suddenly changed format or, indeed, disappeared that application is effectively screwed.

  11. InsaneLampshade
    Thumb Up

    Just force automatic updates for everything by default.

    Force silent background automatic updates for everything, no prompts or anything... works for anti-virus software (until an update bricks your computer... but oh well)!

    Don't like it, turn it off. The rest will be too dim to figure out how to turn it off.

    1. Neil Greatorex

      Re: Just force automatic updates for everything by default.

      Aaarrgghhhgh

      You read el Reg & you post this drivel _update everything_, _when supplier "X"_ says so?

      Bet you use Webmin for reading mail.

  12. Martin 50
    FAIL

    Don't talk to me about Skype updates

    Well Skype (just IMs) used to work perfectly fine on my HTC Wildfire, and now it doesn't. It must have been an update that caused it. I'll give it a week and then clear it off and find something else. Why can't they just leave working alone - they can't hope to test new versions on all the old models out there.

    Strikes me that all the first stat shows is what poor timing the updates choose to appear.

  13. Richard Crossley
    Linux

    Not just Windows

    I once had an update for Linux Mint that removed the nVidia drivers for my desktop (double headed) PC. After a fresh install Mint repeated the update with the same effect. Sometimes being a ludite is the best option. After that debarcle, I switched to Debian Squeeze (Stable)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Very good spelling checkers...

      are built into most popular browsers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not just Windows

      Fedora used to have a game of "update breaks the nVidia drivers. Go fix!"

      In the end I just used to ignore the system wide updates and update individual packages as I needed to.

      Mint's game was "update breaks the Wireless drivers. Go fix!"

      1. paulfeakins

        Re: Not just Windows

        I think Linux Torvalds would say nVidia were making it hard for them not to break the drivers!

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYWzMvlj2RQ

  14. Gordon861

    No mention yet of the famous update to Eve Online that managed to brick a lot of users machines by deleting BOOT.INI from their PCs. And they wonder why people don't trust updates.

  15. TReko
    Devil

    Skype is bloatware

    Skype has gone from being a compact, non-annoying phone app to buggy bloatware that eats 120M of memory at startup.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/devil_32.png

  16. Winkypop Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Annual update sessions

    So, nothing new.

    I'll still be asked to do my annual PC fix-a-thon for family and friends.

    Surely once a year updates are just dandy? (joke)

  17. Mickey Finn
    Windows

    Skype and Microsoft...

    The problem with Skype is Microsoft...

    I would be less likely to jump on board the update wagon, now I know who is behind them. As one commenter TReko said... Skype is now bloatware... And I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't snoopware either.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Be careful with too many negatives

      I think what you said there is precisely the opposite of what you meant.

  18. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Two things are missing from auto update

    First - an indication of what the update is providing: "This is a critical security update" vs "We've changed the UI and added some new bugs/features/advertising opportunities". The user really *must* know what he is changing before he can make even a vaguely informed decision as to change it.

    Second - the ability to roll back to a previous version - particularly when the update is a style change and/or broken.

    With those two in place, I'd be a lot more willing to accept updates...

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Two things are missing from auto update

      "Second - the ability to roll back to a previous version - particularly when the update is a style change and/or broken."

      Trouble is a lot of updates are necessarily one-way, to plug security holes. Otherwise, a malware could force a rollback and exploit the hole.

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

        Re: Two things are missing from auto update

        "Otherwise, a malware could force a rollback and exploit the hole."

        What? How does malware do anything unless you've already been pawned?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Two things are missing from auto update

          Social engineering could trick the user into a rollback. Also, the rollback may involve one type of exploit but the real meat and potatoes requires something covered by the patch that needs to be rolled back.

  19. Laurent Somers

    I *downgraded* to 4.6(iirc) to avoid the memory bloat

    It's astonishing to see how bloated skype has become, memory- and resource-wise and how they keep on piling unnecessaryand untelated features.

    1. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: It's astonishing to see how bloated skype has become

      Well, Skype now had the benefit of Microsoft's crack programming team:

      http://ecrowe.umwblogs.org/files/2008/11/chimpanzees.jpg

  20. toadwarrior

    Here's an idea, rather than trying to find ways to force updates on people why not put more effort into the intial release so you don't have to fix it so often afterwards. Pay for some good developers and don't insist it has to be done in a month.

    And when it does need updating why not have a system in built into windows that allows developers to tell windows where to get the update so it can all be rolled into the windows update process and installed on shutdown?

    Barring any retarded changes, like skype, I alwats update my software. It's not rocket science nor is it that time consuming.

    1. Steve Renouf

      Secunia PSI???

      Anyone?... Does what it says on the tin.

      http://secunia.com/products/consumer/psi/

      For those who can't be arsed to try and remember to run the "check for updates" for every programme on their system individually.

      1. Al Jones
        Thumb Down

        Re: Secunia PSI???

        The update from Version 1 to version 2 ruined PSI. It became bloated, and defaulted to doing things I didn't want it to do, and made it harder to change the options.

  21. Dan 55 Silver badge
    FAIL

    The man from Adobe is a funny man

    "We hear you – loud and clear," writes Adobe's Wiebke Lips in a statement. "The good news is that times have changed. Especially for consumers, software updates have become much easier and much more reliable than they once were. Software vendors continuously look for ways to make the update process less cumbersome."

    And Flash Player still can't tell you if there's a new version from inside the control panel, it opens a web browser and then you have to click to get to the download page. And after updating it still always opens the default browser even if it's not the one which had the plugin installed.

    Reader also requires the computer to be restarted because you had the cheek to check for updates with the Reader software running (as it usually is when you use Reader's own 'Check for updates' menu option).

    I wonder if their paid-for software is any better... For some reason they've put me off it though.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: The man from Adobe is a funny man

      Wiebke is a woman's name.

      Adobe's stuff has got a lot better behaved in the last few years but it's still far from perfect. Runtimes like Acrobat Reader and Flash are particularly susceptible to security breaches so regular updates are, unfortunately, a must.

    2. Grouchy Bloke
      FAIL

      Re: The man from Adobe is a funny man

      I don't think flash has properly worked with FF for a couple of months now since FF 13 came out...on either of my pc's.

      Keeps downloading new versions, but still borked and CPU tends to go through the roof and then crashes.

      Forces me to revert to IE when I need those YouTube moment.

      B****Y Mozilla / Adobe!!

      1. Mike VandeVelde
        Boffin

        Re: Forces me to revert to IE when I need those YouTube moment.

        http://www.youtube.com/html5/

    3. Christian Berger

      Re: The man from Adobe is a funny man

      Well with Flash it's easy. A few month ago they publicised the fact they weren't making any new versions. Period.

      1. Al Jones

        Re: The man from Adobe is a funny man

        @Christian Berger:

        No new versions for Android, maybe, but they've released at leased 5 patches to the Windows versions in the last 3 months:

        11.2.202.233

        11.2.202.235

        11.3.300.257

        11.3.300.262

        11.3.300.265

  22. ZweiBlumen
    Facepalm

    If ain't broke...

    If ain't broke, don't fix it.

    Right?

  23. That Steve Guy

    More updates... and still more updates.

    The problem with updates is that there are so bloody many of them!

    There are so many programs that require updates it it stupid, Windows updates, Adobe Reader, Adobe flash, C++ runtime, multiple .Net versions, Java, (to say nothing of Skype and Mozilla and other software)

    I frequently hear the laments of "not another f***ing update!" even from my colleagues in the IT department and these are guys who understand the importance of updates. It feels like machines are updating constantly and new bugs are always being introduced as the code gets a new bolt-on and things get changed often for the sake of change.

    You also have updates forcing a reboot only to have another update be installed right after you have rebooted.

    Its no wonder users get annoyed when updates slow down your machine and stop you from getting on.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: More updates... and still more updates.

      SNAFU.

      System Normal. Another F***ing Update.

  24. buserror
    Thumb Down

    Well, skype is "special"

    I usually update all my software **but not skype** -- because skype has introduced "upgrades" that rendered the software almost unusable with their idea that the window needs to take 60% of the screen, and of course the reason later appeared in the form of adverts.

    So, skype stays at a 2 years old version here, and when that one stops working, I won't use it again. Google Hangouts are already covering a lot of the cases where I needed audio/video calls.

    Seems the questionnaire lacked the "user knows what the update does and doesn't want it, thanks" answer.

  25. Artem S. Tashkinov
    FAIL

    Goddamn updates

    I've just registered only to post this single comment.

    Do you know why I, an IT senior manager, who's been working in the field for over 12 years, hate updates? Because nowadays software is near perfect and to justify updates ISVs are f*cking with us, end users. They randomly drop essential features, they change existing features making them unusable, they change the UI and many other things.

    ISVs need to justify millions of programmers who have to actually do something and because of that we have a constant flood of updates people simply abhor.

    PLEASE STOP.

    BTW Skype is a good example of this awful problem.

    1) They removed several statuses, including Skype Me

    2) They removed the ability to search for random people

    3) They introduced ads in 5.10

    4) They removed the ability to show people in groups (showing all the groups at once, not like it's done now - where you can see just one selected group).

    F*ck ISVs, F*ck software updates, F*ck Windows 8 Metro BS.

    1. TRT Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Goddamn updates

      I feel your pain.

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: Goddamn updates

      Fuck, my machine's just be pwned by a zero-day exploit. FUCKING HAXXORS!!!!!11!!!1

    3. stanimir

      Re: Goddamn updates

      Just for the record - Skype 3.8 works perfectly fine.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most adults are technically illiterate

    ...and they wear their technical ignorance as a badge of honor.

  27. Graham Marsden
    WTF?

    "You guys are going to love this new update we've been working on!"

    Oh are we indeed? So you've *NOT* moved things around? You've not made the user interface "prettier"? You've not decided that it will be better for us if a function we've always been used to doing one thing suddenly does something else as well/ instead of?

    How would you like it if we suddenly "updated" your car so that the ignition key slot moved from the steering column to the dashboard? Or maybe turning on the heaters turned the radio on too? Or what about it suddenly being repainted so it's blue instead of white?

    You wouldn't like that? So why the *HELL* do you think that we are going to be happy when you pull that shit on us???

    1. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: "You guys are going to love this new update we've been working on!"

      Was exactly what our in house web app dev team said!

      The howls of complaints were loud and clear, `This "new" version is so fucked up; we are going to hang you bastards from the roof.`

      Quick reversion to the "old" version. Top web app devs had their asses reamed by a tunnel boring machine. I could have sworn that I heard "Hurts So Bad!" playing over the intercom.

      Sometimes the users have got to speak up.

  28. Decade

    Everybody's doing it

    No surprise, Skype and Symantec having problems getting people to install their latest software. I hate them both.

    But everyone's doing it. Apple demands that you leave your Mac unusable for a long time while it installs updates. (Apple on Windows also proactively shuts down whatever you're doing so it can update. So horrible.) Java, ATI, and Adobe sometimes try to sneak some unwanted ad-ware on your computer. Mozilla randomly plays 20 questions with you about your plugins.

    Part of the problem with Windows is that it is impossible to remove open files. So, you can't do an in-place update, and you actually need a time when the program isn't running to do the updates. In Linux, you can do an update at any time, and then restart the program when convenient.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What's "apple on windows"?

      Do you mean iTunes? Or something else?

      1. TRT Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: What's "apple on windows"?

        Any of Apple's executables compiled for Windows architecture, I think is what he means.

  29. Medium Dave
    Devil

    "Joining Skype... are Adobe, Norton, and TomTom."

    Not sure about TomTom but that is one hell of an unholy alliance.

  30. @thecoda

    In the case of Skype, at least, it's a long established trend that each "upgrade" will bring new popups, adverts, etc. with no way to turn them off. For a while I used to like the Mac version without the infuriating, unavoidable "today" window - until they added the infuriating, unavoidable "dial pad" that is.

    The only true upgrade here is to another product that isn't Skype.

  31. Big_Boomer Bronze badge
    Pint

    Updates

    You start your PC.

    After booting Adobe Reader decides it needs updating,.. again.

    Your AV software is updating in the background (using 100% of your CPU if it's Symantec/Kaspersky/McAfee).

    Windows spontaneously decides to download 50Mb of updates.

    Skype tells you that a new version is available.

    MSN Messenger tells you that a new version is available.

    After 15-20 minutes of pushing buttons you finally get into your email, send the email and hit shut-down.

    Windows informs you that it is installing Update 1 of 80,000.

    You pull the plug and go down the pub!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Updates

      That's why never shutdown anything let alone your 'whole' box, just leave everything you use running, fastest way to get shit done.

  32. Viscis

    I mostly ignore and disable updates for my software, I don't understand why I'm constantly forced upon with new 'features' most of which I don't want or cannot disable in the newer version.

    Case and point; when skype decided it would be fantastic for all users to receive a pop-up window on login giving them updates about your social network. Most developers get a brief window of trust, lose that and I will not update your software.

    TL:DR - Stop second guessing what I want from the software, always give me options to turn things off.

  33. Mark Dowling

    Give me Automatic Updates

    and Permission Based Upgrades if you want to add cruft to my experience.

    Updates should be security/bugfixes and NOTHING ELSE.

  34. Derezed
    Windows

    Technoignorant

    I hardly ever update my copy of Skype since it has become virtually unusable on a PC. Every update leads to a raft of features I don't want, obfuscation of existing features and an even more cluttered interface.

    I wish they'd re-release their original offering. A big green button for call, a big red button for hang up, and a simple chat interface. It has got way to silly now with friends being baffled on how to open an instant message, how to hang up a call, and generally how to use the software.

    I lament the day I am forced to 'upgrade' my copy of Skype.

    But hey...it's free and doesn't give me brain cancer.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh

    Don't blame people for not updating Skype- recent versions are full of ads, bigger , slower and full of bugs. Don't even start on the problems with broken headset support- just see Skype's own support forums and wince.

  36. EJ
    Facepalm

    Ironic this is Skype pointing this out

    Secunia's OSI and PSI products are items I preach to every home user I come in contact with. For friends and relatives, I'll show them how to use those simple, free products to make sure their software is updated. Skype is always a problem because inexplicably Skype requires you to log into your account before you download the software update. This is a hurdle when the Skype user of the house isn't present when you attempt to update the software. Why not just let a user download the patch/update without logging into their Skype account?

  37. Mike Flugennock

    used to look forward to updates, but...

    ...nowadays, I positively dread them.

    I've been using a Mac for a little over 25 years, and I used to be fairly excited over OS and application updates; my first thought was "cool, let's see what the new features are!" and I could pretty much count on some features I was wishing for to be implemented, and nagging bugs stomped.

    All that started to change around the time OS9 rolled out, and updates started doing things like wiping application and OS preferences; also, this was about the time I'd started using the 'Net heavily as part of my work, and OS updates would often wreak havoc on things like TCP/IP and browser settings.

    Nowadays, when OS or application updates are announced, my first thought is "oh, Christ, what are they going to break this time?" Starting with OSX "Panther", the first thing I did was to turn off auto-update features in my apps and OS, and manually update my rule sets in LittleSnitch (god bless it) to forbid any Internet connections by Adobe Creative Suite applications and iTunes, and turning off auto-update in Firefox. These days, I update only after poring over The Reg to determine what's being b0rked by OS or applications updates and when, and deciding whether or not to go for it based on that.

    One upside to using a Mac -- among others -- is that I haven't yet had to deal with the fake system update pop-ups; still, there's the issue of behind-the-back auto-updates breaking my OS and applicatiions, though I haven't had too many problems with that as I can get the heads-up by reading The Reg regularly .

    .

    What especially bugs me about this article is how all the software vendors seem to be collectively scratching their heads and asking "why don't people update when they're prompted?" as if they really, seriously don't know, even though the answers are pretty obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together. I'd long thought updates were often a needless pain in the ass, but I'd never heard them described as "an act of aggression against their users"; still, when I consider what's gone on the past eight or ten years with the behavior of auto-updates, it seems a perfectly reasonable way to describe it. It may not seem that way to software vendors or developers, but from the users' end it really does often look as if they're deliberately trying to fuck our shit up.

  38. Piro

    It's mainly Skype..

    It's been getting worse and worse in the UI department, so if you're in a voice call you stare at blackness no matter what.

    I've been using Trillian instead for Skype voice calls. Wish it could do Video as well, then I'd never need to even look at the actual Skype client...

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Ive got your update right here

    Bugger paying MS to get back the ability to share my desktop in Skype that they took away.

    Also, encryption you can trust (ZRTP) not to have backdoors (Open Source).

    Standard communication protocols (SIP, XMPP) to enable easier connections to more applications.

    Available for Windows (32 and 64 bit versions), Mac OS X and Linux.

    ----

    https://jitsi.org/

    Meet as many people as you want in one single call.

    Create conferences over any SIP or XMPP service and add to them anyone you want regardless of what application they are using.

    Use all your networks from the same application.

    Jitsi lets you connect to Facebook, GoogleTalk, XMPP, Windows Live, Yahoo!, AIM, and ICQ so that you can chat to all your friends in the simplest possible way.

    Show your desktop to anyone with a video-capable XMPP or SIP client.

    Allow other Jitsi users to interact with your applications regardless of your OS.

    Oh ... and did we mention your session can be ZRTP encrypted?

    You can download Jitsi and use it regardless of your OS.

    Simply download our Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux packages.

    With a little bit of extra bravery you can also easily build and run it on FreeBSD.

    Secure video calls, conferencing, chat, desktop sharing, file transfer, support for your favorite OS, and IM network.

    All this, and more, in Jitsi - the most complete and advanced open source communicator.

    Really See your friends with Jitsi and its high quality SIP and XMPP video calls!

    Jitsi can encrypt your calls using the innovative ZRTP.

    Do you see the padlock? You can safely tell your secrets!

    ----

    And the more people use it, the better it will get.

    I’m going to give it a go, consider yourself invited.

    https://jitsi.org/index.php/Main/Download

  40. Greg D
    Thumb Up

    Android & iPhone already manage this nicely

    Windows needs to tack on developer/3rd party support on to the 'Programs and Features' control panel to allow a centralised place to update all installed applications. Just like you do with the Android Market, or Apple App Store.

    Hell even the new Windows Mobile does this ok. Why not extend to the desktop market!?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      They're trying.

      Thing is, not all the software developers like or want to use the Microsoft Installer system. The end result is that Windows has a harder time tracking those applications. Furthermore, a huge chunk of applications are either pre-MSI or use old versions that only include installation information with no information on how to gracefully update stuff. End result is that updating is a crapshoot. Look at Java. Until very recently, the recommendation was that you manually uninstall your current version before you installed a new one since versions couldn't detect each other and as a result tended to contend.

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