Not All Computers are Updated Equally
Here lies the problem of updates and even worse, the evil "auto-update".
While I still recommended everyone download this weeks ANI Vulnerability patch, I knew there was still a risk it could adversely affect some computers. It did in fact, mess up folks who have Realtek Audio. Imagine that, a fix to animated cursors screwed up an audio control panel application.
I have written about this before but this weeks episode is just another reminder. The increasing trend towards applications using auto updates is more dangerous to computer users than global warming is to polar bears.
It's not just Microsoft updating your system. Everyone is getting into the act. Adobe wants to update your PDF reader, Macromedia constantly updates Flash, Google wants to update your toolbars, and more computers come installed with a global auto update program from Installshield available to all developers who use the #1 InstallShield.
If we look at the history of auto updates, it's pretty scary. One Microsoft patch made it impossible for people to use their HP printers and scanners. Even a virus update to Windows Defender caused some people to lose all their Outlook Email. In that case, it was just an update of data, not even a patch.
This trend is bad for computing and needs to stop. No matter how long the "beta" test or preview has been out, you just can't guarantee that a change will affect everyone the same. Updates need to be a user's choice and there should be an easy fall back method available if errors occur.
Update from Microsoft:
As of April 5, 2007, Microsoft is aware of the following third-party programs that are affected by this problem:
• Realtek HD Audio Control Panel
• ElsterFormular 2006/2007