New to Owl Order? Click here for 2009's best posts! 00:00:00

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Updating used to be fun

Just a few years ago, any internet user who cared about stability and performance of their rig would be excited by the release of browser updates.

Updates to your favourite browser was a huge thing. Backend changes aside (huh? JavaScript? Canvas?), various revamps were prominently visible to users the first time they see their new, updated browsers. Remember the joy of seeing tabs when you first went from IE6 to IE7? Or found out how awesome the AwesomeBar of Firefox 3 was?

The Updating-Hype back then was phenomenal. Firefox 3 garnered over 8 millions downloads the day it was released, even setting a Guinness World Record for most downloads in a single day. Requests were so frequent that at one point, Mozilla servers were unable to service all of them and were taken down temporarily.

Updating was just plain fun. The downloading, the installing, the exploring and the benchmarking. It's like a parent seeing a kid growing up.

All these changed in 2008 when a new browser was born.

Google Chrome led the way to many browser innovations, the same way Apple iPhone introduced the world to an intuitive touchscreen interface. Minimalistic user interface, lightning fast JavaScript performance and optimisation for multi-core machines are just three of the lot. These innovations then slowly found their way to other browsers, widening their reach, Chrome or not.

Chrome had a new update and version numbering system too. New "major" updates are released every two months or so, with the version number incremented. The rationale behind this is to push new features to end users quicker than usual. Updating is fully automatic -- the browser downloads and installs a new version behind the scene whenever it is available.

The cool automatic-update feature makes sure that every Chrome user uses the latest (and greatest, as Mozilla put it) version. However, with releases so frequent, each "major" release isn't so major anymore. Relatively few people can name 10 improvements Chrome 12 (the current stable release) has over Chrome 1. Heck, most people don't even know which version they're using.

Worst of all, they took the fun out of updating. Users don't update anymore -- the browser does. Updates present too few changes and come too frequent to garner press attention.

And guess what, Mozilla and Microsoft are adopting this update approach on their Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers respectively. In short, it will be soon before long when people start saying "Update? What update?" like a clueless llama.

Now, Mozilla Firefox 5 is getting released next week, on the 21st of June. But who cares?

Thank you, Google Chrome.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.