CLAS and the Neverending Software Updates

Updates appear to be a never-ending thing.  It seems that every time you sit down to work, Windows will prompt you to reboot for updates, or you’ll get a prompt to close your browser because there’s an update available.

In reality, it’s not quite that bad but due to the large number of different programs, all with different update cycles, but it sometimes seems that way.

Monthly Updates

Windows patches come out once a month and will prompt for a restart when they are finished installing.  Restarts can be postponed or ignored for a period of time but Windows Update will continue to hold onto some of the computer resources, and will eventually cause a noticeable slowness in computer response, until updates are completed. Windows 10 adds a notification to the taskbar when a restart is required: Windows 7 displays a prompt:

Adobe products are on the same cycle as Windows, though some programs, like Adobe Reader or Acrobat, will skip some months.

Firefox tends to release a feature update every few months but often has one or two security patches directly after the feature update.

Java releases updates every 3 months unless they find a major security hole.  Minor Skype updates happen frequently but we generally only push out the major ones.

Whenever possible, these updates will be installed silently but many of them require commonly open apps, such as browsers, to be closed and will prompt for user intervention:

User-Controlled Updates

Google Chrome has relatively frequent updates but leaves when to update in the hands of the users by showing an icon  in the top right corner when updates need to be applied.  Like Windows, the updates apply in the background but require a restart of the program to complete.  The restart will only take a minute and will reopen with all pages and tabs when complete.

Some software updates aren’t pushed out unless there’s a security reason to do so.  Instead, they are made available in the CLAS Software Center: