Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th Dec 2008 15:10 UTC
Editorial states: "Microsoft (or a really smart ISV) should build a full application manager for Windows, similar to what most Linux distributions do today." Most Windows applications come with their own distinctive updating mechanism (much like Mac OS X), instead of having a centralised updating location like most Linux distributions offer. While it certainly wouldn't be harmful for Windows to gain such a feature - the question remains: isn't it time we rethink program installation and management altogether?
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The thing I like about Windows application management is that it's just a single file (installer) containing everything you need. Just run it and install, including required .dlls. Don't like how the new version ended up? Simple, don't download the new installer, and keep running the old version instead. And with Windows' backward- and forward-compatibility, just about any .exe you can find is likely to work.

The downsides? Being forced to "agree" to stupid EULAs for every damn thing you attempt to install, programs' installers are designed to "take over" in some cases by registering them with every file type imaginable--BY DEFAULT (spending two minutes to uncheck 50 checkboxes is never fun), programs enable useless services by default, spyware and malware, toolbars, and various other crap people contaminate their installers with to generate money... In general, you just have to pay extra attention, because Windows installers try every trick in the book these days, and they all work differently and have different defaults.

In Linux, the biggest problems tend to be the number of packages in the distro's repository and packages that are not well maintained. SeaMonkey is one of the prime annoyances because, being a Web browser, you certainly don't want to lag behind in updates... and if bugs you any time you start it that it's out of date. I have also added unofficial repos for Transmission (for more features) and Wine (for better compatibility), and have occasionally had to compile a program when all else fails. Truly disappointing. One of the other things I don't like is how as soon as a new version of a program comes out, the old one usually disappears. Sure, it simplifies things, but there's a chance a new version does things I don't want.

Still, having a one-stop location to download packages an updates is nice, and it greatly simplifies setting a system up. But it's only as good as the repositories and the package manager itself are.

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