Too Many Products Require Our Own Tech Support

from the have-fun-updating dept

Have you patched all your software lately? Found over at Broadband Reports is this article complaining about just how much new technologies expect users to handle updates. It talks about new multimedia devices that come with non-working features – until you can install some extra software and about cable modems that require you to repeatedly update the firmware. As new gadgets increasingly use software, this issue is only going to become a bigger problem. Are you going to have to update the software on your camera, your phone, your calculator, your watch and your microwave? It’s making some people wonder why they should be the ones required to stay on top of what needs updating and why they should be responsible for doing the updating at all. There are ways to make such things much more automated, but few companies seem willing to bother. As long as they can outsource the work to you, they don’t think it’s their problem.

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Comments on “Too Many Products Require Our Own Tech Support”

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thecaptain says:

No Subject Given

A BIG problem is…

do you trust companies to update things for you?

Personally I don’t.

Its a good way for them to invade your privacy by having/demanding access to your system, a good way for THEM to control how YOU use your system by simply letting them change it so you can’t use it in whatever way they don’t approve (palladium, DRM), and frankly, its just as unsafe as patching it yourself haphazardly…because you know that if whatever company can get in your system and change things automatically…you know some pimply faced hacker jerk will figure it out and laugh with glee as he wrecks your machine.

Mysidia (user link) says:

Re: Somewhat

You’re using their product, so you have to trust
the company somewhat. Unless their product is open source, they could easily already have slipped you backdoors in it.

If it’s a piece of closed-source software, you have three choices: [1] Keep using the old, non-updated, buggy version, which is bad if it means that you are vulnerable to security issues,
[2] Switch software products, or [3] Update.

If the bug has a potential of causing problems,
for others then it’s perfectly reasonable that the user be forced to do [2] or [3].

If they company trustworthy, then they still may have bugs which are to the same effect.

If you didn’t trust them from the start, then you
shouldn’t be using their product. There’s no special reason an update is more likely to have a backdoor than the original.

The greatest risk is just that the update breaks something else.

IMO: updates should be forced to continue using network-aware software, but only essential security patches. Anything that breaks compatibility or adds features should be optional.

It’s very inconvenient that the user has to go out on their own and find the update.

It’s perfectly reasonable that software check periodically if there are updates available, and
notify the user.

If the update is essential, then the network client software should refuse to start until the
user opts to download and apply the update.

Otherwise, let the user choose if they want the
update or not.

Don’t tell the user to go out on their own though,
it’s a pain to have to repeatedly check vendor web sites to see if update number XXX is available yet.

Gregory Kennedy (user link) says:

Self updating keeps the pice low

In the past when computers and other professional level equipment cost upwards of $50,000 dollars, it was reasonable to expect an technician to come in and make updates. But with a $150 dollar printer or a $300 digital camera do you really expect an onsite visit for just a software upgrade?

Self upgrading keeps prices low, which is what consumer care about most.

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