Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Saturday, September 01, 2007

AOL Active Update Doesn't Suck

Today, in a RARE move I’m going to say something positive of both America Online AND automatic updates. I’ll make up for it tomorrow by pointing out another new annoyance from AOL.

Recently, AOL has been “offering” an update of its “update” mechanism to fix potential problems. “This corruption can cause software updates to restart repeatedly until they are successfully completed.

Unlike most other updates, they actually have my approval on how this update is being presented.

AOL Update dialog

There are some things I really like about this update.

  1. They actually notify the user an update is going to occur.

  2. Date, Time and Update number(although cryptic) are displayed.

  3. They provide a “Let me do it later” option.

  4. They describe the purpose of the update.

  5. They even provide a link to more details that describe the update.

    If you click on the image above, it answers the questions...
    “What SoftwareUpdate am I Receiving?”
    “What is the AOL Software Update Mechanism and How Does it Work?

The only thing missing is an option, “Never Update” but I can understand this being a required due to the serious nature of the problem.

Unfortunately, this kind of update is rare but I sure would like to see more like it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a paid subsriber but I never receive these otions. Ocasionallhy it will ask if I wnt doto do somethi glater but if I dont agree it will interrupt whatever I am doing and sometimes it messes everythi gup altogether,

2:28 AM  
Blogger Cd-MaN said...

Again and again you ignore the big picture and talk from the perspective of a very technical person. People who know the right answer to every question already have the perfect antivirus.

But for people with less technical skills (ie. 99% of the computer using population out there!) automatic updates are essential, because none of them would know how to actively seek out information about new versions or vulnerabilities which affect a given version (or interpret those information for that matter).

Technical people have and always had solutions to prevent their computer from misbehaving. We should start doing something for the common user...

12:33 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Believe me, I'm always thinking of the non-technical person. When I was involved in the creation of AOL you wouldn't believe the crap I got from people already using modems who wanted a command line interface. I've always been an advocate for software for the mass market.

Regarding Auto-Updates, it all comes down to Risk vs. Gain.

We may never agree because I give more weight to the Risk factor of the equation. In this case, I am thinking of the non-technical user. As a technical person I know how easy it is for a small insignificant change to mess things up.

I did like your perfect antivirus link, thanks!

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really don't care for AOL's way of providing updates. I had AOL 9.0SE. I upgraded to AOL 9.1 thinking it would be an improvement. That software was absolutely terrible. It had e-mail functions I would never want or use, yet the user could never opt-out of those functions. So, I uninstalled 9.1 and installed AOL 9.0VR. It's great software, but I keep getting daily messages to accept an upgrade to 9.1. As usual, AOL does not provide the user a full array of options. In this case, the user really needs the option of "NEVER UPGRADE"

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i tried to get help from aol tech the other day regarding this security update--i did download it once and afterward i was not able to use aol search or google or any type of search. AOL informed me i do not have any support from them as i am a free member.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no intention of doing this from all that i have read.Not being a "paying" customer anymore i have no support from aol and it sounds to me like they are trying to pull something over on us,there is a total lack of info on their part.

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, but it does suck. It's real nice of them to notify us in this way, but for weeks my computer was running as slow as a snail with that buzzing noise that could drive you nuts. I could leave the room any time I wanted to do an internet search and come back 15 minutes later. My aol was freezing up and the computer was generally running crappy. I knew it had to do with that Active Update popup, but since there was no "Never" option, I just kept on clicking remind me later. Finally I did the research, and looked at my processes under Task Manager, then searched for the files "aolsoftware.exe" and/or "anotify.exe" and deleted them. Buzz is gone, computer is finally running normal again.

10:04 PM  

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