Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Software Update Business Models

These days software updates are a fact of life. If we do not keep our software up to date we risk all sorts of horrendous infections and debilitating attacks. Unfortunately, the providers of our software know this and are starting to use software update to make money or at least remind us that they exist. I have done several software updates recently and noticed this in action.

Adobe just wants to remind me of their presence, so they insist on putting a shortcut to the Adobe Reader on my desktop every time they update. This is relatively benign as it is a matter of a few seconds at most to confirm that it is a shortcut and delete it. Apple is more pushy. I expect to get a new version of iTunes any day now, and I will need to carefully uncheck boxes to ensure that I do not get several applications more than I want. Most insidious is Java, now owned by Oracle. On one system they offered me the Yahoo tool bar, on another system which already had the Yahoo tool bar, they offered me some other software, so they obviously look to see what is installed to guide the offer. Judging by the fact that these offers were for third party software, I am sure that they get some sort of compensation for it.

Soon we will see advertisements and offers in the installer, and new ways to confuse us. The tactic that always gets me is to require some input that I forget to fill in, then when I go back to fill in this information, all the boxes I so carefully unchecked have been mysteriously filled in again. In a hurry, I just click "Install" not noticing that I am now getting all the extras that I had carefully tried to avoid. It is coming to a computer near you soon.

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