20 December 2011

Auto Upgrades Or Not? Microsoft IE Decision And Apple Blunder Inspires Discussion In The Team

Users who stick to old versions are not popular among developers, who struggle to create new and better versions and of course want people to take advantage of what they have achieved. At the same time I can understand users who hesitate to upgrade. You know what you have, right? And as long as it works …

Microsoft introduces automatic upgrades for Internet Explorer
Because of this conflict between a company’s urge to spread the latest versions and some users’ sluggishness when it comes to upgrading, it was with great interest that we read Microsoft’s announcement last week. The giant has done what the team has discussed many times but not yet applied ‒ introduced an auto-update system, originally designed for security patches. Now Microsoft has decided to utilize that system to “force” users to upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer compatible with the operating system.

Apple locks users out of App Store
Another, and more harsh way to make users upgrade is to simple lock them out. That is what Apple has done with users of iOS 3.1.3. Since the update of 16 December these users have not been able to update existing apps, download new ones, rate apps, or view screenshots in App store. In this case I beleive it is unintentional from Apples side, though.

Calendar Browser icon Auto-upgrade for the applications?
Other browsers, like Firefox and Google Chrome, already have the auto-upgrading, so Microsoft’s decision is not revolutionary news in any way. However, that and Apple's blunder once again brought up the discussion in the team. Should we introduce automatic upgrades for our Outlook add-ons? Members of Community have free upgrades, and most of them upgrade quickly when a new version is released. Some wait until there is a problem, though, and we would like to find a way to help them avoid the irritation and disturbance that comes with all software errors.

HelpDesk OSP icon Companies turn off automatic upgrades?
Microsoft’s automatic upgrade is turned on by default in new PCs, but in many companies they turn it off since they prefer to have more control over the upgrade process. This possibility is of course also open with the Internet Explorer upgrade on Windows machines. However, if Business Solutions would spend time on introducing auto-upgrades maybe it would still not be that much used??

PF HelpDesk icon Easy upgrades
The result of our discussion was this time the same as before ‒ for now we will not introduce auto upgrades but concentrate on making the upgrades of our products as easy as possible. We know we have already come a long way in that respect. “It was the smoothest upgrade I ever experienced from any software. Ran the install and 5 minutes later we were back up and running, “ says RenĂ© Le Blanc, IT Manager at Gowlings, a Member of Community and user of PF HelpDesk, the issue tracking tool for Outlook.

TimeCard iconHowever, we will continue making improvements on both the server and the client side. We already supply MSI installers for Community Members with many client users, and the developers always look for ways to enhance the upgrade experience for the users. That way we hope to persuade all users to upgrade willingly and voluntarily!

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