June 21st, 2017

I have grown to dread computer updates

An update is supposed to make things better, right? But it seems to me that a great many of them (you can’t predict which ones—or at least I can’t) will throw a monkey wrench into the works instead.

After several near-disastrous experiences, I never update iTunes if I can help it. My cellphone recently updated Google Maps (which I use for navigation), and although I consider some of the new bells and whistles to be improvements, others make me gnash my teeth with frustration.

And don’t get me started on Yahoo Mail (fortunately, I’ve written about it before). Suffice to say that with Yahoo’s various revamps, nearly everything that was done was a negative and nothing a positive. The only reason I still use it is a combination of the inertia of force of habit, dislike of other email services too (for other reasons), and not wanting the bother of informing everyone of a new email address.

And one of the reasons I haven’t gotten a new computer is lack of desire to learn Windows 10. I’ve used it on other people’s computers and I hate it (I have an archaic 7). I know, I know; I should bite the bullet and make the adjustment. I’ve never done well with change in any computer system, though. It’s not just the initial transitions that I find hard, although there’s that. I continue to be annoyed at losing the things I liked and gaining things I don’t like, although I’m happy for the improvements. It just seems that, a lot of the time, the so-called improvements turn out on balance to be not-so-much, or even steps backward.

However, all I have to do is look back on my early days with computers and remember when pre-Google search engines would throw the kitchen sink at you in what seemed like random order, and you could make lunch while waiting for each site to load, and I see that progress is not an illusion after all. And remember the sound of the dial-up? Even the memory fills me with dread.

35 Responses to “I have grown to dread computer updates”

  1. Llwddythlw Says:

    I have lost count of the number of times I have updated iTunes, but it only went wrong once (but that was once too many). The “fix” proposed by Apple was no help at all, so I put up with it until the following update which came through rather quickly, as Apple had received many complaints. My Kindle updates have all gone well so far. However, I always think “I hope this works” as my various devices digest the updated software.

  2. blert Says:

    Updates are designed, in this era, to ‘monetize’ your experience on a given ‘platform.’

    They are, consequently, force fed to you.

    They are totally geared towards ad revenue for the software firm.

    The idea that they’re fixing a glitch or improving your experience is a big fib, of course.

  3. parker Says:

    You might try fastmail.com. I switched over from yahoo 3 years ago and have had no complaints. You have to pay, and there are various options. I pay $3 per month and the 2 GB data limit fits my need.

  4. brdavis9 Says:

    Most users problems with being productive on new Windows versions are with changes to the UI (user interface).

    I install Classic Shell (link to download) to all my client’s new W10 systems (as I did to clients’ W8 systems), and most can’t tell the difference between their W7 PC’s and their newer boxes.

    (My support calls are measurably, precipitately less immediately after installing Classic Shell.)

    I use it too.

    Particularly for non-touch screen PCs, the W7 UI is arguably – though barely – better.

    (What I did not say was there are no differences. There’s plenty. Major. However, most of those changes argue for updating to the latest Windows. Sooner or later you’ll have to anyways, sigh …your hardware won’t last forever, for one. That said: I always sympathize with my clients “luddite” tendencies. Always. I rigorously follow the Marshall Field Dictum lol. But I also ease them into learning, and then accepting, the new OS re: the Sooner or Later Paradigm, heh.)

    …security alone – the Internet is the [fictional] Wild West – dictates the necessity of moving to the current version of Windows.

    (JIC. I spent part of the last weekend manually updating my remaining XP clients with the anti-ransomware patches that Microsoft recently and graciously released for that totally obsolete platform. Small businesses sometimes simply can’t afford and don’t find it prudent to throw away hardware that is still perfectly suitable to the intended purpose. Particularly when they have me as a buffer LOL.)

    30 plus year in IT support …and almost 20 years past the point when the industry was saying I’d be obsolete too. Tee. Hee.

    …for me personally, I won’t use anything other than W10 these days. For all its flaws, it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen come out of Microsoft. MS in W10 has finally created an embryo system that spans devices relatively seamlessly (I did not say flawlessly lol …even though nothing else comes close).

    (Even my main mobile is a Windows Phone. I just want biz stuff to work together, and I don’t feel like I should have to dick around with it to make it work together. I’m not a heavy apps user btw, so I can get away with W10 Mobile.)

  5. Ray Says:

    …your hardware won’t last forever
    Come on now, I’m still using an old LaserJet 4 and it will probably outlast me. It was a real hassle to get it working on Win 10. Hewlett Packard has a universal printer driver called PCL6, but I could not get it to work with Win 10 and had to go back to PCL5. Took several days to find out that Win 10 had a problem with PCL6.

  6. skeptic Says:

    You are right to resist changing to Windows 10. Win10 gives you NO choice about updates. They are applied automatically whether you like it or not.
    “In Windows 10, updates are mandatory and more automatized than in previous Windows versions. Some Windows 10 editions include the option to defer upgrades for a limited time. Security updates however are excluded from this option; everyone receives them automatically.”

    Micro$soft now includes ads with Win10 whether you like it or not.

    My advice is to stick with Win7 as long as you can. If something on your computer breaks, have it repaired.

    If you get backed into a corner then consider Linux. Some might say a Mac but Apple is even more greedy than M$oft.

  7. Thomas Doubting Says:

    Back around 2001-2008 I exclusively used Linux on desktop and laptop. I was kind of forced to change, but the reason no longer exists and I’m thinking of going back to Linux.

    Ubuntu is a very user-friendly version.


    Part of the reason people use Linux is that they like to configure their machine their way and not have automatic changes made to it.

    Yeah, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but I don’t think it’s more than switching from Windows to Mac anymore.

    The big issue is usually what software you need. There are replacements for MS Office — LibreOffice is good. It reads and can save in MS Office file types (Word, Excel, etc.), though it won’t look exactly like the Office products do. It comes with Ubuntu.

    There’s a bunch of other stuff on Linux as well.

  8. Rastus Duprees Says:

    you don’t have to update. and for win7 i would turn off updating all together. otherwise you may end up with win10 against your wishes.

  9. Les Says:

    I bought an iMac in 2008 and updated operating systems when a new one was available (after waiting a period to see what the fallout was) until the latest operating system was no longer compatible with my iMac. All the upgrades went smoothly. Early on, I had to pay a modest fee, but Apple then started offering them for free.

    That old iMac died earlier this year and I bought a new one. I had realized the old machine may not last longer (I was hoping though it would last until I could see how the 2017 models looked like, but the old guy just couldn’t make it) and used Time Machine (the Apple provided backup app) to backup. Moving the data to the new iMac was part of the initial setup and it went very smoothly. I lost I think one app due to compatibility problems.

    I’ve always updated iTunes with no problems, but I don’t care that much for what they’ve done to it. Part of it is because I don’t use it as much as I used to so may be feeling nostalgic for that proverbial Golden Age.

    Anyway, neo, it sounds as if you’re a true conservative in a technological sense.

  10. TommyJay Says:

    If you have a Win7 system that is working well, DON’T upgrade to Win10. Win7 was the best of the lot BY FAR.

    When I first upgraded from Win7 to Win10 (at the end of the free upgrade period), everything worked the same as before and I was pleased. Then after several months, the performance got worse, and worse, and worse.

    A few more months and I noticed that the process for adding a user account had been completely changed. They now have a half dozen extra dialog boxes that try to strong-arm you into converting into their cloud-account security system. Yes, you can keep your old password system but you have to CAREFULLY filter through a series of tricky boxes to do it. Every time!

    Today, for the first time, the web browser Edge will only start in Maximized mode, and it never remembers its previous window size or location when not maximized.

    I could go on, but I’ll stop by saying I am a Windows/Microsoft fanboy, not a hater. I’d grade Win10 at a D.

  11. Roy Says:

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

    I’m a 60+ year old techie and I wholeheartedly agree with you. I’ve had too many updates that turned a perfectly good application into an annoying mess.

    I am running Windows 10 on my home PC. I went straight to 10 from 7 because whoever at Microsoft thought that touch screens were taking over the desktop was a moron. Windows 8 was a mess.

    Do I like 10? Well, it’s two steps forward and one step back. Overall, it’s better, but I’m not terribly pleased with the forced updates and the subtle changes to the UI. Customization is a snipe-hunt for where they hid the settings. You can easily turn off all but security updates and that’s how I’m currently running. (You can also turn off *all* updates but it takes a bit of tinkering in the registry.)

    Linux is a good alternative if you have more than a passing knowledge of PC operating systems. It can be an ordeal to install and customize but once running it’s solid. The main limitation to Linux is the applications you might wish to run. (Yes Virginia, there is a lot more than just “Office” out there.)

  12. Gringo Says:

    Like MS told me to do, I updated from Windows 7 to Windows 10. I didn’t like the Windows 10 default option of “send all your data to Mother Ship.” Fortunately, I could deal with with that. At least I thought I could. I don’t like Cortana. (is that the right name?)

    Several months ago my hard drive failed. Because of some issues with getting Windows 10 Pro installed- I had paid for Windows 7 Pro- instead of Windows 10 Home, I called Microsoft. I will spare you the details.

    The MS service rep informed me that as my computer was built for Windows 7, I should use Windows 7. The MS service rep informed me that subsequent Windows 10 updates would get buggier and buggier on a machine designed for Windows 7. So, my new hard drive has Windows 7 Pro on it.

    I was surprised that a Microsoft rep told me to stay with Windows 7. When I pointed out that Windows 7 had a limited life, the reply was “Windows 7 isn’t going away.” At least updates aren’t going away for the next 3 years.

    For those who recommend Linux/Libre Office, my reply is that MS Office is a lot easier to use. Libre Office is buggy, which is OK if you are a computer geek and can fix things. But if you are not, it’s rather inconvenient. A neighbor of mine volunteers on updating Libre Office. He agreed with my judgment that Libre Office was best used by a computer geek, not an ordinary user.

  13. AesopFan Says:

    All “upgrades” are two steps forward some steps back.
    I also get irritated when TPTB at MS or Google decide to eliminate something that works great for me, and substitute something that suits their fancy instead (even when it doesn’t apply to the money-making part of the platform).
    I am okay with mandatory security upgrades; several stories about computer hacks lately have turned on the fact that the company IT depts. were behind on their upgrading.

  14. brdavis9 Says:

    W7 no longer “accidentally” auto-upgrades to W10.

    So you don’t have to worry about that anymore (the mis-applied upgrade happened to relatively few users: I was one, btw, on a machine that I’d purposely left at W7 for support purposes …it was relatively easy to decline the upgrade at the time, and roll it back to W7 sans issues).

    The W10 free upgrade to W7/8.1 PCs was a courtesy upgrade to W10 – to incentivize W7/8.1 users (MS knew the W7 users would resist lol: W8 had experienced too much bad press) – which ended July of 2016.

    I’ve no idea what the cost in “lost revenue” to MS was, but it was not insubstantial. (Forcing the upgrade was totally necessary though, to get a broad acceptance of the new UI …and get past the abysmal perception of W8 by enterprise techies …and set the stage for the future architecture independent OS that W10 is the core seed for.)

    …on every PC I was able to upgrade (non-corporate), W10 has proved more agile, and less resource intensive …and generally, far less support-intensive.

    But the preceding W10 “version” can be a bit wonky just prior to the release of the current edition (W10 is on its 4th generation at this point – the Creators edition – with the 5th gen due later this year).

  15. Simon Says:

    I gave up on Windows around 2001. Sadly in my job I have to occasionally troubleshoot other people’s Window’s machines. They either can’t or won’t Google for answers and we have no I.T. Dept. I’ve actually found Windows 10 to be a huge improvement over 8 and also better than 7. Though you’d have to tear my Mac from my dying hands before I’d ever use it for myself.

  16. huxley Says:

    Windows 7 suits this software professional fine. Microsoft will have to do something really special to get me to upgrade.

    Windows 7 still has the largest market share by far of any OS out there: 49.46%.


    For the reasons neo lists, I disable most updates and only upgrade when I have good reason and after the upgrade has been banged out.

  17. huxley Says:

    I gave up on Windows around 2001.

    I gave up on the Mac in 1996 even though I had had a pre-release Mac in late 1983 before the big Steve Jobs rollout in 1984. I started my software career as a Mac developer.

    Three years ago I bought a Mac for developing iPhone apps and was shocked at how buggy and bizarre the Mac had become at the hardware and software levels.

    Your mileage may vary.

  18. Gringo Says:

    Simon:I gave up on Windows around 2001.
    Huxley:I gave up on the Mac in 1996

    Back in the mid ’90s, I used both Macs and Windows in a university computer lab. I stopped using Macs because they crashed more than Windows computers. I don’t know if this is still the case.

    While PCs may not be the beautiful pieces that Macs are, they have at least two advantages for me. PCs are cheaper. I can replace or upgrade parts myself on PCs. Try that on a Mac 🙂 Beautiful design has its disadvantages.

  19. Thomas Doubting Says:

    Libre Office is buggy, which is OK if you are a computer geek and can fix things.

    I’m sorry to hear that. I used OpenOffice back in my Linux days and it was fine. It wasn’t quite as good or quite as easy to use as MS Office, but close, and I wouldn’t have described it as buggy. I never had to fix things on it.

  20. Gringo Says:

    It wasn’t quite as good or quite as easy to use as MS Office, but close, and I wouldn’t have described it as buggy. I never had to fix things on it.

    Perhaps “buggy” wasn’t the best choice of words- at least for documents and spreadsheets. It wasn’t that Libre Office/Apache crashed, but that it was awkward compared to MS Office, which would suggest your wording was more appropriate: not quite as good or quite as easy to use. I could survive using Libre Office or Apache for spreadsheets and documents.

    I can’t say the same about databases for Libre Office/Apache. I use MS Access in my work. In looking at the database equivalent for Libre Office/Apache, I threw up my hands. I couldn’t even begin to figure out how to use it. For databases, the disadvantages of the Libre Office/Apache version went beyond awkward. My computer geek score wasn’t adequate to figure out how to use the database part of Libre Office- which would indicate that “buggy” was appropriate for databases in Libre Office/Apache.

    At the same time, I use MS Access 2003 instead of later versions, as it is easier for me to use. So, I give MS a less than perfect score for its databases. By comparison, I have no problem using more current MS versions for Word and Excel. Perhaps it is that the more complex nature of databases means that changes are not as easy to deal with compared to changes with documents and spreadsheets.

  21. Matt Harris Says:

    I have to second Windows Classic Shell. If you use that you will have a hard time telling that it is Windows 10.

  22. F Says:

    I quite using Microsoft when they insisted I move to Windows 10. The features the were selling were unimportant to me, so I gave up years of resistance to Apple and bought a used MacBook Pro. That’s what I’m typing on now. I have not looked back.

    Yes, it is more expensive at the outset. Yes, there are programs (“apps” in Mac language) that won’t work on an Apple product, and one or two are programs I’d like to use. But all in all, as far as I’m concerned after about 6 years of using it, I am happy with the change. I wish I had done it earlier.

  23. Yankee Says:

    Computers just don’t seem to be as interesting or exciting as they were ten years ago. All the designs tend to look the same, just slabs of black plastic or silver metal at Best Buy.

    I might get a Chromebook at some point, and maybe an iPad Mini for when I travel. I don’t have a smartphone either, just a simple flip phone.

  24. Surellin Says:

    Windows 98 was the last OS I really understood. Now I just slog through whatever I need to use. The magic is gone, and we are no longer adventurers on the shores of a new world. 🙁

  25. huxley Says:

    I’ve been using OpenOffice/LibreOffice on Windows since the early 2000s. It does seem clunky at times, but I’ve never noticed it as particularly buggy.

    The current MS Office is probably a better fit for most users, but not by a mile.

  26. huxley Says:

    I would add that OpenOffice/LibreOffice are free.

    And they are quite powerful. The word processor contains more than the basics of a page layout program (think Quark) and a document processor (think FrameMaker).

  27. Snow on Pine Says:

    On the hardware side, see an article from this week pointing out that the design.construction of some new computers makes these computers impossible to fix (see https://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/3012121/ifixit-slams-microsofts-surface-laptop-as-a-glue-filled-monstrosity).

  28. Kae Arby Says:

    When I was real little, I remember our family’s first TV. It took a loooong time (to a four year old, it probably took a minute) to warm up. In the mid 70s we had a TV that would warm up in less than 30 second and the audio played immediately. By the late 80s/early 90s, TVs and computer monitors would warm up and display their pictures within a few seconds, to almost immediately. Today, with these new LCD monitors and TVs, it takes anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute and a half for the blasted things to boot up.


  29. neo-neocon Says:


    I can’t stand Macs either, unfortunately. Used one for 4 years and never got to like it, although I was assured I would.

    I wrote a post about it a while back. Don’t have time to locate it at the moment.

    I’m touchy about computers.

  30. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    I see windows classic shell mentioned. I put that on our windows 10 installs.

  31. chuck Says:

    I run Fedora, which is a cutting edge linux distro with a new release about 2x a year. Sometimes things break, sometimes third party software, mostly gnome addons, is not compatible with the upgrade, so on an so forth, but I know that is the nature of running cutting edge software. The upgrades themselves go smoothly and I like using the latest compiler versions and such just so I can test things. I’m one of the maintainers of the NumPy package and find that helpful. My needs are simple, however: compilers, editors, git, and a web browser.

  32. Simon Says:

    Here’s the Mac post: http://neoneocon.com/2009/11/04/machate/

    I couldn’t find it using the blog’s search so I wrote this in Goggle:

    site:neoneocon.com “mac”

    A good tip, in case you didn’t know it. If I’d read the post at the time I’d have probably written an impassioned defence of the Mac. I don’t care so much any more. Whatever works.

    Incidentally, I am writing this on the new iPad Pro. Very expensive, but maybe the best computer I’ve ever owned.

  33. NeoConScum Says:

    Neo: I’m entirely with you on the Yahoo Updates Crap. I HATE all the f***ing “improvements”.

  34. J.J. Says:

    Neo: “I’m touchy about computers.”

    I’m in that club myself. Many very tech savvy people on here. Lots of knowledge that I will never have. Sadly.

    I was forcibly moved from Windows 7 to 10. Took me a while, but I’ve learned to use it. Not that my needs are that great. Follow the blogosphere, maintain my investment portfolio, e-mail using Outlook Express, photos, and Office for Word.

    Right now I’m a happy camper.

  35. Joey Says:

    I also highly recommend Classic Shell. It is a must-have for every Windows installation now.

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