Custom Application Development

Sep 25 2008   3:31PM GMT

Updates that Fail

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

Don’t you hate it when an update fails? I had the experience just yesterday while doing an update on my Microsoft Vista laptop. The updates appeared to be going correctly, but at the very end I found myself in an endless loop situation. The situation was not pretty and upon further investigation in the web a Google search pointed me in the direction of a workaround. I wasn’t sure that was the right direction, but this was not something that was unique to myself. The work-around worked!

I was fortunate. I only lost about an hour in my struggle to find the answer to take corrective action. However, others were not so lucky, many losing countless hours before recovering — or not — their system. My investigation to this point indicates that while this has happened on an occasional basis for some, Microsoft has been apparently quiet regarding this problem. This was an update that I expected to work absolutely perfectly since a fellow developer friend of mine said he never liked Vista until he had installed service pack one.

It seems that on August 12 of this year VMare issued an update which caused issues regarding the licensing. The problem prompted an open letter to VMware customers from VMware’s president (…see letter). This appears to be a fine example of software quality assurance going wrong — just how this embarrassing situation occurred is certainly under investigation by VMware.

As I see it, these two examples of updates that failed are very different. In the case of the VMware issue a fix was readily found, as the issue was the result of a programming error. A quick fix of the error and the problem was resolved.

As for the Microsoft issue. I see the problem as somewhat different in that while the problem has occurred for some, there are many for whom it has not occurred. This represents a much more difficult issue to resolve. As a result of the very nature of personal PCs, testing for this error becomes much more of an issue. I can almost forgive Microsoft for not having a solution to it.

Yes, I’ve had perhaps more than my share of failed updates. I find that I am much more upset with programming or testing errors than with errors which occur as the result of network or hardware issues which I cannot duplicate. Regardless of the cause, there is no such thing as a good failed update.

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