Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've had this happen in all sorts of software products: You purchase a software product, download it, install it, and then after the install, the program immediately begins downloading an update or a patch.

Ideally, I would imagine that the download package would somehow be linked to the product's repository so that stable releases could be pushed to the product site rather than having to force the user to wait through an update after install.

Are there any technical reasons for the install/update process or is it just a case of poor deployment infrastructure on the part of a lot of companies?

share|improve this question
up vote 7 down vote accepted

It's not poor, deployment of the main install image and downloadable update/patch are different things.

You cannot expect software providers chase all their downloadable images at all the mirrors to be updated with the latest nightly build, although some do that.

Usually, a cut-off is being made for a release image, and until the next cut-off, the updates are provided as patches one by one and are being downloaded by the product after it installs.

share|improve this answer
For piece of software that I downloaded and installed today, it had 48 upgrade packs that I had to wait for it to download and install. Surely that must be poor deployment practices... – VirtuosiMedia Sep 8 '11 at 9:02
@Virtuosi: Depends on where you downloaded it from. I have had installers of my software copied onto all sorts of sites without my knowledge - one cannot expect me to keep all those copies up-to-date... – Marjan Venema Sep 8 '11 at 10:14
@Marjan - That's a good point. – VirtuosiMedia Sep 8 '11 at 10:24

For software that is deployed through multiple channels, there can be different approval delays from submit to availability.

So as soon as you install it from channel X, it may check if there's a newer version and prompt to install again.

I've seen this several times with mobile software from app stores.

share|improve this answer

In most cases, when software ships, it ships in stable form. Once the software is installed, then at that time it phones home to check for an update.

More often than not, there are several factors that cause this...for example:

Operating Systems that come on disk probably already are behind the curve in updates, but the main goal is to get it installed first.

Another example is enterprise. Big businesses want to install a product as-is, then slowly integrate the patches as-needed in controlled environments before just racing to the bleeding edge.

Being up-to-date isn't always a good thing.

share|improve this answer

They don't want to rebuild the installer for the whole program every time there is a new security hole or bug found. For one thing, the download would end up a lot bigger, and I assume it's easier to create a patch than to rebuild the whole installer. And with installations on disk, there's a lot of money that goes into the making of those disks that would be wasted if they had to throw away the millions of them sitting in the warehouse every week just for a 5kb change to one file.

Also like the other answers state, it can be difficult to update all the different distribution sites. I've seen old versions of games on some sites, when other sites have had updated versions for 6 months.

share|improve this answer
this answer does not appear useful because it looks that all its points are better presented in other answers to the question – gnat Jan 18 '13 at 7:36
@gnat I did not see in any other answer anything about the cost of replacing disks that were already made, or size of original download – krazykat1980 Jan 18 '13 at 7:43
"In most cases, when software ships, it ships in stable form... Operating Systems that come on disk... businesses want to install a product as-is..." (quote source) Don't get me wrong your answer would be reasonably OK if that was original content, or at least better presentation of what was already written. But to me, this is not the case here sorry – gnat Jan 18 '13 at 7:46
@gnat Does that mention WHY it ships in stable form? Does it mention anywhere that COST to the developer is a factor? And where does it mention the SIZE of downloaded installers or the HASSLE of rebuilding installers? My answer touches on different aspects of those points... that's like if someone says a bird flies because it has wings and someone else says it flies because it has an instinct to fly and calling those the same points – krazykat1980 Jan 18 '13 at 8:03
"WHY" - sure: "You cannot expect software providers chase all their downloadable images at all the mirrors..." (I leave it to you to find out where it sits). Again don't get me wrong - if you would present your considerations better than in other answers, I'd be the first to upvote. As of now though things don't look that way – gnat Jan 18 '13 at 8:10

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.