When Upgrades Are Not Really Upgrades

Upgrades Are Not Really Upgrades


The word ‘upgrade’ implies improvement, does it not? Software upgrades are supposed to make software packages better or more secure. An upgrade to your airline tickets is supposed to mean better seats. For some reason though, not all upgrades are for the better. Some upgrades are really not upgrades at all.

Perhaps it’s a matter of personal preference. Then again, there are some upgrades that can be demonstrated factually. Whether or not what is purported to be an upgrade actually is depends on a whole host of factors, many of which are particular to that product or service.

What does this all lead to? The inevitable fact that each of us gets to decide for ourselves whether or not purported upgrades are legitimate. If you think something is an upgrade, it is. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about it. Likewise, if you think a purported upgrade has made a product worse, then it’s worse for you.

 From Rubbers to Shoe Covers

Upgrading from rubbers to shoe covers is something that can be examined in a tangible way. Let’s say you start with thin, latex rubbers that only cost you $5.00 on Amazon. You wear them a few times before one of them rips. Now it’s back to Amazon for another pair. How many pairs will you buy in a given year?

You could upgrade to a pair of waterproof shoe covers from Salt Lake City’s GC Tech. They are made with a waterproof but breathable fabric, a fabric that is tough enough to withstand normal wear and tear. You will spend more, but they are likely to last you for several years. It is a clear upgrade. Whether or not it’s worth the cost is up to you.

The point being made here is that even demonstrably provable upgrades may not necessarily be positive. Consumers might not be willing to pay a higher price for upgraded products if they feel they aren’t getting value for money.

 From Old Software to New

Upgrading from rubbers to shoe covers is one thing. Upgrading software packages is an entirely different matter. When it comes to software, the value of a product’s upgrades are less quantifiable. And unfortunately, software upgrades often create conflict between developers and users.

As an example, Canonical came out with a new version of its Ubuntu OS in 2010. Its main selling point was a proprietary user interface (UI) that Canonical hoped would enable them to bring convergence to the desktop, phone, and tablet. To make a long story short, a lot of long time Ubuntu users hated it.

The new UI was presented as a complete upgrade. Users had other ideas. Over the next eight years, Canonical continued upgrading it in hopes of finding a sweet spot that would satisfy most users. They failed. The UI was ultimately abandoned in favor of a new version of the previous UI.

 Different Visions

Software is an area in which upgrades do not always make people happy. Developers have one idea of how software should work; users have a completely different idea. Then there’s the problem of developers just assuming that users want to do things differently. Some developers even believe that it’s their responsibility to force users to learn new ways to do things. In the end, it is really a difference in visions.

A careful examination suggests that upgrades are fluid. Just because an organization refers to a product or service as being upgraded doesn’t necessarily mean users of that product or service will agree. One man’s upgrades are often another man’s disaster. It is a law of nature.