Last month, Apple took some flak for pushing the iPhone Configuration Utility to Windows users who have the Apple Updater Software installed. The software was utterly useless to the majority of computer users, most of whom don't even own iPhones. This underscores a fundamental flaw in the way that Windows allows third-party software updates to run amok on people's computers. The solution: Provide a universal updater application to control how software developers push updates to users.
There is no reason that we need to have individual updater applications for Windows, Java, Apple, Adobe, McAfee, and untold others, all competing for systems resources and individually popping up to annoy their victims each time the vendor supplies an update. All we really need is one app to manage all updates to all software. Users could configure how applications get updated, what types of updates are permitted, when the updates are allowed to occur, and how notifications appear.
Software developers who use the universal updater would need to agree to a policy governing how the application is to be used. Specifically, they need to be prevented from stealthily deploying applications that the user hasn't requested and may not want. (In other words, no sneaking lame browser toolbars or demos of other apps into the mix.) Developers who violate this policy would have their updates blocked.
While IT pros are skilled at clearing unwanted apps from all the places that they may hide, many computer users aren't quite that savvy and are stuck with cluttered systems. Additionally, removing updaters from various startup locations is tedious and defeats the utility of having up to date apps (CCLeaner is a great utility which, amongst other features, provides a single location for deleting all startup items). A universal updater application would remove this frustration, return some control back to the user, and keep all relevant applications up to date.
Sure, there might be a few hurdles to implementing a universal updater and getting software developers to agree to use it, but doing so would provide a huge value to users and make Windows a cleaner platform.
Michael Scalisi is an IT manager based in Alameda, California.