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Software Upgrades

A Call For Rollbacks To Previous Versions of Software 199

Posted by timothy
from the forced-upgrades-are-a-pox-on-the-world dept.
colinneagle writes "In a blog post, Andy Patrizio laments the trend — made more common in the mobile world — of companies pushing software updates ahead without the ability to roll back to previous versions in the event that the user simply doesn't like it. iOS 7.1, for example, has reportedly been killing some users' battery power, and users of the iTunes library app TuneUp will remember how the much-maligned version 3.0 effectively killed the company behind it (new owners have since taken over TuneUp and plans to bring back the older version).

The ability to undo a problematic install should be mandatory, but in too many instances it is not. That's because software developers are always operating under the assumption that the latest version is the greatest version, when it may not be. This is especially true in the smartphone and tablet world. There is no rollback to be had for anything in the iOS and Android worlds. Until the day comes when software developers start releasing perfectly functioning, error-free code, we need the ability to go backwards with all software."
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A Call For Rollbacks To Previous Versions of Software

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  • by hsmith (818216) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @12:15PM (#46516601)
    Not even that, lets say you have a "Cloud" based App. You have to maintain your APIs on the server so they are backwards compatible.

    We've rolled out around 16 updates in 16 months for our software. New features, bug fixes, etc. While even our X.0 software will work with the API in X.16, it takes a lot of work to ensure that you are backwards compatible.

    Eventually we will break that, but it isn't all that trivial, especially for a small team.
  • by rockmuelle (575982) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @12:23PM (#46516705)

    This. Software is expensive to maintain. For every old, supported version that a customer can rollback to, the company must maintain development and support infrastructure. This is likely a full time QA person whose job it is to ensure the rollbacks work, at least a part time developer to fix things that break the rollbacks, the team that supports the packaging and distribution of the rollback versions, and the front line support staff to answer calls when something goes wrong with the rollback. Already, that's at least 3 FTEs and likely 5 or more. Just to support rollback functionality. To put a price on it, it's at least $300k/year in direct costs, and more in opportunity and indirect costs.

    For free apps, or apps that only cost a few dollars, there's absolutely no way a company can justify the cost and effort to do this.

    Now, if users were willing to pay $50 for an app, then there would likely be resources available to support this. Of course, with those prices, the dev processes could be more robust and the need to rollback would be greatly diminished.

    tl;dr: you get what you pay for.

    -Chris

  • by Rakarra (112805) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @12:56PM (#46517089)

    When my iPhone 3G stopped being able to run new iOS versions, I was still able to run the old versions of my apps, even though newer ones were available. Actually, it simply didn't even tell me there were newer versions available; it just continued to run the newest versions supported by the OS.

    Of course, I made the mistake of wiping my phone, and then I was no longer able to install any version of some apps since the iTunes store only offers the newest.
    That simply encouraged me to get off my ass and get the larger Android phone I'd been eyeing.

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