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A Call For Rollbacks To Previous Versions of Software

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the forced-upgrades-are-a-pox-on-the-world dept.

Software 199

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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New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (-1, Offtopic)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about 5 months ago | (#46516109)

Apparently, Apple, in it's infinite wisdom, has decided to drop support for Windows 7 in Bootcamp for the shiny new Mac Pros. Given that a lot of Windows users are saying no to Windows 8 and 8.1, one has to wonder why. My guess is that it was a concession Apple had to make to Microsoft in order to get Office on iOS.

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 5 months ago | (#46516167)

This is news to me and this information sheet from Apple [apple.com] . Which device is causing the issue?

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (2)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 5 months ago | (#46516191)

Never mind I found your issue in the FAQ (stupid HTML 5 bullshit). I wonder which device is the one lacking support and if there is an alternate source of the driver.

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516175)

It's because windows 7 cant cope with the modern hardware. Not because some executive said, "screw windows users, only L00zers use Windows 7".

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (3, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | about 5 months ago | (#46516229)

It's because windows 7 cant cope with the modern hardware.

Which is why I run Windows 7 under a VM on Mavericks (well actually multiple VM's with different versions of W7)

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516257)

Not a big deal. With 64G RAM it'll be easy to start up a VMware image of Win7Pro-x64 and give it 2 or 4 cores and 16-32G.
Multiboot is so last decade/century.

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 5 months ago | (#46516289)

I suspect this has more to do with the way new hardware devices are certified by Microsoft than some conspiracy at Apple. I am glad you said something I would have never checked the FAQ until I had a new Mac Pro and was trying to install Windows 7 on the one user's machine who insists on buying an Apple product and running Windows on it.

Luckily everyone else in this office uses OS X on Apple hardware because we are mostly a Linux/OS X unix shop. I think all companies have at least one troublesome user.

Pay up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46517063)

Providing the option to rollback an update is *expensive*. If this must be mandatory, it will significantly increase development costs and turnaround time, and these costs will be passed on to the consumer.

Be careful what you wish for.

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (0, Offtopic)

azav (469988) | about 5 months ago | (#46516367)

in its* infinite wisdom

it's = it is

it's (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#46516557)

don't forget it's = it has, and a few others as well. As in it's come to may attention that...

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516505)

What kind of fucktard invests $10,000 in a UNIX workstation and then puts Windows on it...the amount of people running Windows on a Mac Pro can be counted on one hand.

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46517147)

Strangely enough, comparing feature for feature and chip for chip, the Mac Pro is slightly cheaper than the other brands of PCs. So, running Windows 7 or 8 is something that can be useful on this hardware.

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (1)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 5 months ago | (#46516513)

I realized that Windows 8 is pretty good when I got my first BSOD Sunday while updating the video driver. I hadn't even thought about the fact that using Win 8 since release I had never had this happen, until it finally did after so much use. Windows self-repaired on reboot, and the system is rock-solid again.

On topic: I had to abandon SpashID Safe when an automatic update hosed the software, losing data and making the UI less-pleasant. I'm now happy with mSecure, and have automatic updates turned off so I can read reviews before install. I wouldn't have to do this if rollback was allowed.

yay, couple months without bluescreen. Hotswap CPU (0)

raymorris (2726007) | about 5 months ago | (#46516837)

Wow, that's great. Windows ran a few months without a blue screen of death. Meanwhile over here where we use reliable operating systems, a contractor hotswapped a CPU in one of my machines. It kept running fine. That machine has had two replacements of the boot drive in the last few years. No reboots needed for those either.

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (2)

MouseR (3264) | about 5 months ago | (#46516899)

Fortunately Windows reboots often so it will keep itself in pristine shape.

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516551)

Because before they were using a hacky hybrid gpt-mbr partition table to get windows installed on the mac, also emulating a BIOS. They have just simplified the whole process booting windows in pure uefi gpt, now that windows 8 properly supports it.
Also, new hardware = new drivers = new OS

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516749)

Windows 8 is in the same group as Slashdot BETA -> CRAP!

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516917)

You know all that trivia, but can't tell its from it's?

Re:New Mac Pro sans Windows 7 (1)

homey of my owney (975234) | about 5 months ago | (#46517057)

It's nice that this is about Apple... But the first thing that popped into my mind was XP -> Vista.

Piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516123)

Is the reason why Sony's firmware updates to its consoles cannot be rolled back.

Re:Piracy (-1, Offtopic)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 months ago | (#46516371)

Good point. Unrelated note: I have selected you, AC to make a special once in a lifetime offer to buy the Brooklyn Bridge which I won through a complicated backstory involving a game of chance...

Re:Piracy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516733)

So, in other words, they fuck over their own customers to get at the piracy bogeyman, or that's what they claim.

Why would anyone buy from companies like Sony or Microsoft that so clearly despise their own customers?

Re:Piracy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516969)

Its not just them. The next version of PowerDVD to come out after BluRay won the format war removed all support for HDDVD and of course PDVD refused to run unless you use the latest version.

The content industry (movies, TV, music & games) is almost completely devoid of all creativity and new ideas. DRM & forced obsolescence is the best way they can think of to keep people buying the same thing over and over again.

Shades of WinAmp 3 ? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 5 months ago | (#46516133)

This story reminds of the wisdom of this cliche ...

"Those that forget the lessons of the past
are condemned to repeat the same mistakes"

I see this "latest-is-greatest" fallacious attitude all the time. New version adds new features, fixes bugs, but introduces new bugs or rose redesigns the UI. i.e. WinAmp 3, TeamSpeak 3, etc.

The problem is that there is no good solution. What is the developer supposed to do when ...

* Older version has major security issues
* Newer version has a fracked up UI, bloatware, etc.

Now what is the customer supposed to do?

I agree though, that in the majority of cases, a "Bill of Software Rights" would be good:

* Users have the right to _rollback_

This whole we-are-always-right started with Microsoft and IE. GOD forbid you actually _need_ to run _multiple_ different versions for testing!

Re:Shades of WinAmp 3 ? (4, Informative)

Qwerpafw (315600) | about 5 months ago | (#46516345)

Apple now lets you install old versions of Apps on iOS provided that

* You installed the old version when it was available
* The developer has not opted out of this policy in iTunes Connect
* The new version is not supported on your device

If they dropped the third requirement it might satisfy a lot of what you'd like to see.

Re:Shades of WinAmp 3 ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516395)

They should drop the second requirement too. Why should some developer get to choose what I do with my machine?

Re:Shades of WinAmp 3 ? (1)

Sique (173459) | about 5 months ago | (#46516517)

Because it's his software you are installing, and there might be a reason not disclosed to you why he doesn't want his old code running on your device?

Re:Shades of WinAmp 3 ? (5, Insightful)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#46516603)

Ah, I think I see your problem. Where did you get the idea that it was your machine?

Re:Shades of WinAmp 3 ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46517003)

You want control over your machine, but not for the software dev to have control over his software?

Nice double standard you've got there.

Re:Shades of WinAmp 3 ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46517199)

In case the software interacts with any server owned by the developer and they want to stop outdated or possibly bugged requests to the server? The developer doesn't want to deal with bug reports and customer service issues from old versions of their software? The developer found a security issue with an old version, and the developer and/or Apple doesn't want to be responsible for people continuing to use it after an update fixes it?

Re:Shades of WinAmp 3 ? (5, Insightful)

MisterSquid (231834) | about 5 months ago | (#46516617)

I really don't like when companies turn my app from a standalone product to one requiring a subscription to access new features. BranchFire did it with "PDF Annotate" and Abvio has done it with "Cyclemeter".

Part of the reason I purchased "PDF Annotate" and "Cyclemeter" ($25 and $5, respectively) is they didn't phone home or require a subscription that was looking for an excuse to go belly up.

My guess is once new user growth slows, the companies consider monetizing their current user base (aka "seeking rent"). So, in the next upgrade they introduce subscription services.

I'm sorry, but I'm not interested. At all.

Users should have the ability to roll back any upgrade, including OS upgrades.

Re:Shades of WinAmp 3 ? (2)

Minwee (522556) | about 5 months ago | (#46516905)

This whole we-are-always-right started with Microsoft and IE.

I think you misspelled "Bell Labs and Unix in 1969". Autocorrect is always purple monkey dishwasher.

The ones I really hate... (3, Insightful)

NecroPuppy (222648) | about 5 months ago | (#46516143)

Are the updates where the hardware requirements have changed so much that you effectively have to buy new hardware. Obviously, not an issue for phones, but annoying as hell on PCs.

Or the company that comes out with an (non-free) upgrade ~every~ year, necessary or not, and immediately stops supporting the previous version. "Yeah, we know about that rare bug. It's fixed in the latest version, which will only cost you $150k, across your user base, to upgrade to."

Re:The ones I really hate... (1, Informative)

netsavior (627338) | about 5 months ago | (#46516333)

Are the updates where the hardware requirements have changed so much that you effectively have to buy new hardware. Obviously, not an issue for phones

Clearly you have not tried to use an iPhone 3s or even iPhone 4 (non-s) lately. If you follow Apple's recommended IOS upgrade path, your device becomes unusable, which has been a pretty sound business model for them, I suppose.

Re:The ones I really hate... (2, Informative)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 months ago | (#46516519)

I have an iPhone 3GS running iOS 6 - it took over our land line number. It runs fine - as well or better than it ever did on any version of iOS 4 or 5. So what are you talking about?

Re:The ones I really hate... (3, Interesting)

Rakarra (112805) | about 5 months ago | (#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.

Re:The ones I really hate... (0, Troll)

maliqua (1316471) | about 5 months ago | (#46516515)

This *IS* an issue on phones, my current android phone is virtually unusable and slow since i updated the fact that i can't roll back and the performance was so hideous has tainted my view of Android entirely i'm not even considering an android device for my next phone

Re:The ones I really hate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516625)

The ironic part is if you root your android device, you can back up old versions and restore them, if you'd like.

Re:The ones I really hate... (1)

callmetheraven (711291) | about 5 months ago | (#46516661)

Pretty sure you can do a factory reset on most android phones.

Re:The ones I really hate... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516713)

factory reset doesnt restore android version just resets settings

MIssed point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516539)

You should be able to roll back, but there is a couple problems.

!. the older versions of your software are probably riddled with security holes. where the newer version will at least buy you some time before they get hacked.

2. seeing how these companies just about refuse to create patches, and go into denial, and or blow them off until someone exposes it to the masses, about known vulnerabilities, it would be more difficult to get them to keep patches coming when someone exposes another hole.

If I remember right that was pretty much the argument these companies used, in refusing to allow users to roll back software.

Re:The ones I really hate... (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 5 months ago | (#46516607)

Obviously, not an issue for phones, but annoying as hell on PCs

I bought the Flightradar24 app. Cost a pretty penny back then, too. Half a year later, it got so bloated (new HD graphics included in the package even though it's not an HD device, developer can't be bothered to make 2 separate packages) that it wouldn't even install on my lowly device anymore. I'd have no choice but to clean out some other apps to make room.

Not much later, the version of Android (2.3) was just completely not supported anymore; as in cannot download. Which would have sucked considering you can't download the older version either.

Thankfully, Android - so I had an app backup and can still use the Flightradar24 app in its older form just fine.

Here's an app you paid for, but unless you managed to keep an old copy around yourself, you're now SOL. Sure, you could buy a new phone.. doesn't mean it's 'not an issue' or not 'annoying as hell'.

As an aside, I have stopped using Flightradar24 almost entirely. Their website's gone to sh*t and development of features has come to a standstill ever since they realized they can make plenty of money on the site and apps as they are, and can trickle in new features to keep things fresh and have people laud them for. Unfortunately, most alternatives are even worse, thanks in great part to most signal feeders only feeding to Flightradar24.

Re:The ones I really hate... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#46517141)

Or the company that comes out with an (non-free) upgrade ~every~ year, necessary or not, and immediately stops supporting the previous version. "Yeah, we know about that rare bug. It's fixed in the latest version, which will only cost you $150k, across your user base, to upgrade to."

You think every year is bad, we had a vendor once who went to an 'agile' release cycle and started pumping out releases every 2-4 weeks, and then would say they couldn't support you because you were out of date.

Our production deployment cycle is longer than 2-4 weeks, and we eventually had to tell them that if they expect to be making grown up software for production environments, they'd need to support any given release for no less than six months to a year, or we'd terminate the contract. It took some yelling for them to understand that real production environments can't be updated every time a developer bloody well recompiles.

I updated an app on my Android phone from the Play store recently, and *after* I updated it it started telling me it was only Beta software. Why the hell didn't you tell me is was a steaming turd in the bloody app store? Because I have no interest in a beta version of your damned software.

Which is why I recommend running 1 version behind. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516161)

You can avoid the pain of new releases, at least in most cases, by simply deferring the upgrade until a period of time has passed whereby the new release will be vetted by those eager to try it.

Re:Which is why I recommend running 1 version behi (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#46516667)

Indeed. In fact you may fall several versions behind waiting for reliability and/or usability to return to previous levels. Personally I'm just about ready to upgrade from XP to Windows 7 on my gaming rig, except that I'd need to upgrade a fair bit of hardware to maintain the same performance.

Re:Which is why I recommend running 1 version behi (5, Funny)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about 5 months ago | (#46516865)

And how is XP, by the way? I'm running 98, but it's getting a little long in the tooth. I'm thinking about upgrading to XP this April 8, when I'll consider it to be fairly well tested.

Re:Which is why I recommend running 1 version behi (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46517071)

Is it still possible to download old updates for windows 98? If I were to install it in a VM would I be able to update it to the latest?

Speaking of VMs (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#46517077)

Quite good actually. It takes a little getting used to, but the stability improvements are enormous. I'd recommend skipping it though, 7 has reached the point that it's an improvement in almost every way, way better than the 95->98 transition, though it does have somewhat higher system requirements and there are some serious issues with backwards compatibility, especially with 16-bit software. Still, 98 mostly works without issue in most virtual machines.

Speaking of VMs, can anyone recommend a cross-platform option (Linux and Windows especially) where configured machines can be reliably moved between platforms? I'd like to be able to set up a win98 VM with all my old games - the sort of thing that will never change beyond adding new game saves, and then just install the VM software on whatever platform I have and copy the configured VM over. I've tried VirtualBox and VMware, and they both tend to have serious issues that mean I'm lucky to even get the copied VM to boot much less run stably.

Re:Which is why I recommend running 1 version behi (1)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | about 5 months ago | (#46516891)

The only thing you get from Android app updates is more ads. I let it update my kitchen timer app. The new version was the same as the old one but came with fucking banner ads. So I've learned to never, ever update anything on my phone.

But that's not as bad as Google who pushed a Chrome update that removed the buttons from the scrollbar. I guess nobody at Google has ever used a touch pad.

not even close (-1, Troll)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 5 months ago | (#46516163)

"Until the day comes when software developers start releasing perfectly functioning, error-free code, we need the ability to go backwards with all software"
Actually, you're an idiot if you download a brand new patch to anything without seeing if it's crap first. Let the stupid people download it on day one. This has been standard IT procedure since Microsoft invented "service packs."

Re:not even close (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516241)

If the code was perfect to start out with, there wouldn't be any need for bug fixes type of update.
So this is like a bandage for the bandage.

Re:not even close (2)

azav (469988) | about 5 months ago | (#46516401)

But you CAN'T try out the software first. You can't try it out and see if it works for you or not.

There is no back switch. There is no test drive. The user has little choice.

Re:not even close (3)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 5 months ago | (#46516575)

But you CAN'T try out the software first.

It's for exactly those cases that the GP is suggesting letting other people try it out first.

Re:not even close (1)

gsslay (807818) | about 5 months ago | (#46516447)

Unfortunately when you are dealing will phone apps you have to deal with two things;

Firstly a continual stream of minor updates. Are you going to test every single one? Personally I have a life, and am not intent on being a beta tester for most of it.

Secondly, automated updates. Again, I don't want to spend half of my free time performing manual updates. So often allowing automatic updates is the only solution.

But yes, there is nothing more annoying to discover that the latest version is broken in some regard, and you would be better off with the older version, which is now unobtainable.

Same goes for applications that have bloated to the point where what used to be functional on your moderately aged phone, is now unusable because it has been coded and tested on the very latest hardware.

Re:not even close (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#46516743)

It would be nice if there was an option for automatic deferred updates - don't apply an update unless X weeks have passed with fewer than Y% of users complaining.

Rollbacks on the other hand can introduce all sorts of issues with anything that stores non-trivial settings or changes internal file formats. It's easy enough for version N+1 to support and upgrade all previous versions, but do a rollback and there's no way for version N to support the changes made by N+1.

RollbaIs there anywhere that /does/ do rollback? (1)

taikedz (2782065) | about 5 months ago | (#46516465)

Where have we seen in consumer space the ability to rollback an uncompleted install? Once it's installed, the only way back is to find a previous installer, nuke, and reinstall.

This has been standard IT procedure since Microsoft invented "service packs."

Indeed, and since way before too.

It used to be that you never went for the x.0. Nowadays, we have to be wary of getting any x.y.0

Verizon Galaxy SIII (1)

JoshuaJon (916892) | about 5 months ago | (#46516173)

I'd settle for having the updates not include a NEW locked bootloader. Waited ages for the 4.2 update only to have a new nasty bootloader installed along with it. Lame.

Devs don't want to maintain old versions (5, Insightful)

FlamerPope (218608) | about 5 months ago | (#46516189)

Developers don't like having a lot of different versions of their software out in the world because it means they have to maintain those versions. Adding some sort of default rollback ability implies that devs will have to continue to support those old versions. That's not going to be very popular.

Re:Devs don't want to maintain old versions (1)

lowen (10529) | about 5 months ago | (#46516351)

It goes deeper than this.

Businesses have to pass down the costs of software maintenance to consumers; consumers won't pay what it actually costs to do this at the device level.

For servers, that's why you pay extra for long term support at a particular stable revision. See Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu LTS, or Microsoft's long term support for older versions of Windows Server, for reference.

Developers of course would prefer to work on 'sexy' things like new features; maintaining older versions and backporting security updates and bugfixes is decidedly 'unsexy' in comparison.

Re:Devs don't want to maintain old versions (4, Interesting)

hsmith (818216) | about 5 months ago | (#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.

Re:Devs don't want to maintain old versions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516771)

The database formats and configuration variables that are stored with the app or program usually change with a new version. More functionality== changes to the format of internal data.

For non trivial programs, reverting to an old version really means reinstalling that old version - no one writes a database downgrade program.

Even more than rollback... (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | about 5 months ago | (#46516203)

... you should be able to install whatever version of software you want on your phone.

The *only* think I want from a phone is a safe enough firmware bootloader that if someone installs something that doesn't work on a device, they can un-brick it and replace it with something that works.

That would handle the specific case of "rollbacks" this article want; as well as the more general case of deleting Windows Phone and putting Android on the otherwise nice hardware.

On the other hand (4, Insightful)

rujasu (3450319) | about 5 months ago | (#46516213)

Rollback functionality is also not guaranteed to be perfectly functioning, error-free code, and there's no guarantee that reverting to the previous software version will also revert the user experience to its previous status.

What about data changes? (5, Insightful)

ioErr (691174) | about 5 months ago | (#46516215)

Software updates sometimes change the internal format of its database. What makes you think that a company that produces a buggy new version is capable of creating bug-free code to backport the upgraded data to the old format?

restore from backup (2)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 5 months ago | (#46516269)

If you have good backups, you should still be able to restore. Sure, you trash whatever you might've done since the upgrade, but sometimes it's worth it.

Of course, that's not the case on the iPad -- you might've done the smart thing and backed up everything before testing a new iOS update, but once it's applied, it *will* *not* let you restore the old OS.

Re:What about data changes? (1)

davecb (6526) | about 5 months ago | (#46516971)

Paul Stachour describes fixing this (and other problems) back in the Mainframe era in the article http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/... [acm.org]

Whether the companies in question can read is a different question...

Most android phones can go back (1)

raburton (1281780) | about 5 months ago | (#46516217)

All android phones I've owned (and most I'm aware of) have the option to flash any version of their software (some only signed official versions of course). The only problem is getting the older version - even the latest version isn't always the easiest to get hold of simply from the manufacturer - but they can usually be found easily enough via google.

Re:Most android phones can go back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516475)

That really depends on the manufacturer. For example, for my Sony Ericsson android phone, they warn that once it is upgraded to ICS, I can never go back to GB. There are services available (Wotan, etc) that I can pay to revert back to GB; there are firmwares* available on random file-sharing websites, which requires an independently developed software* to flash it with. However, through official channels, you are not allowed to downgrade. On the other hand, it may be just Sony that's being a dick.

I have never played with Windows phone, so I cannot comment on it.

BlackBerry seems to be the only one that officially offers multiple older versions of the firmware for the phone.

but they can usually be found easily enough via google

* with God knows what malware may be added to it

Re:Most android phones can go back (1)

Control-Z (321144) | about 5 months ago | (#46517149)

Yes, the only difficulty in installing an older version of an Android app is finding a trustworthy source. Of course you could back up your own APK files.

Personally I leave auto-update turned off and only upgrade when I need/want to. I don't need an unexpected update changing the functionality of the app before I'm good and ready for it.

Computer Science != Software Engineering..... (1)

lowen (10529) | about 5 months ago | (#46516247)

Too many developers with CS degrees, too few with SE degrees, and nearly none with IS degrees. See http://www.acm.org/education/c... [acm.org] for more details on the differences.

Re:Computer Science != Software Engineering..... (1)

rujasu (3450319) | about 5 months ago | (#46516433)

I don't see how that's relevant here. Not including rollback functionality in the design is something that a SE or IS major could do just as easily as a CS major.

Re:Computer Science != Software Engineering..... (2)

lowen (10529) | about 5 months ago | (#46516871)

SE majors learn the how and why of release management, that's why it's relevant. IS majors learn business processes, and those tend to include release management and the importance of rollbacks.

Re:Computer Science != Software Engineering..... (2)

rujasu (3450319) | about 5 months ago | (#46517113)

Sure, I'm aware of the differences between IS, SE, and CS. But we're not talking about "developers forgot to put it in" here. Apple and others are making a deliberate decision not to include rollback for end users.

CS vs . SE (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 5 months ago | (#46516981)

The CS major can calculate the time complexity of the rollback algorithm.
The SE thinks that allowing for rollback might be a good idea.
The IS person cusses the PM who didn't allow for rollback because OF COURSE you should plan for contingencies.

Some users want buggy behavior in upgrades (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 5 months ago | (#46516271)

It might sound a little bizarre, but there are some users who demand that "exact reproduction of results of a previous run from the previous version" as an acceptance test of the new version. Even if the vendor proves the old run was buggy, and the old "gold standard" results are bad, they want exact rerun including the bugs. Apparently these customers have written acceptance test documents, written scripts to do the comparison with "gold standard" old results, got it all approved and got it signed off by every one up and down the chain of command. Changing that process requires something akin to getting a constitutional amendment passed. So the vendor doesn't get to sell the next version unless we migrate all the bugs too to the new version.

So many project files will have "version strings". Unless the project is translated into the newer version and saved with a new version string, the code will repeat all old runs. This strange thing goes down the food chain. Some CAD companies would let you "choose" an API from the older version at run time.

That'll work well (1)

Victor_0x53h (1164907) | about 5 months ago | (#46516281)

Easy enough for a desktop application when all you have to do is uninstall the new version, and install the older one. A little more complex for your PC or laptop's OS: you need is enough free space on the disk drive to store all the originals and a somewhat elaborate restoration routine. The idea's great, but there are limiting factors for a phone (disk space, processing power). Whats more is all the different firmwares for radios, gps, etc. which should, but don't always like to take a step back if you simply install the old firmware over top. Maybe we could just download all of the OS and factory restore the whole thing to whatever version. This would work, but it's kind of a hassle for your average user - probably not what Andy meant. Moors law dictates these devices will become more powerful, so maybe in the not-so-distant future. Really though, if they can't get the new OS to work right why do you think they could perfect a restoration routine. Who is this guy anyhow?

Backward compatibility is expensive (4, Informative)

ZipK (1051658) | about 5 months ago | (#46516301)

That's because software developers are always operating under the assumption that the latest version is the greatest version, when it may not be.

No it's not. It's because engineering for backward compatibility and maintaining multiple versions is both difficult and expensive. Building, testing and maintaining multiple backward compatible versions is an expense that most app vendors probably can't afford.

Re:Backward compatibility is expensive (3, Interesting)

rockmuelle (575982) | about 5 months ago | (#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

Re:Backward compatibility is expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516707)

Also most of the time the user is just butthurt that a button moved or the color of something changed, and they don't care that the underlying reason for those changes was a large number of requests for them by other users.

Re:Backward compatibility is expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46517061)

I dislike the what happened about 2 years ago:

There was an app that had both a free ad version and a paid no ad version. I liked it enough to buy the paid version. An update comes along, and boom, my paid app now has ads. Congratulations to me. Never upgrading or buying apps. Thanks.

Security updates (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 5 months ago | (#46516325)

Old, unmaintained legacy versions may not have security fixes for reported problems. And if well in open source software may have maintainers for old versions [mate-desktop.org] if enough liked them, for companies may not be profitable to keep updating old versions (unless the support contract/terms of service forces them).

Rollback? I hate iOS 7.x. (0)

azav (469988) | about 5 months ago | (#46516357)

It's hideously ugly, all the numbers look curly and feminine and if I put my fully charged phone to sleep on Friday when I leave the office, the battery of this unused sleeping phone dead when I come in on Monday.

It's not just my phone, but all other members on my team too.

I hate (really hate) that Apple will never let you go back to a previous version of iOS. In fact, I dread if any of my iOS 6 devices ever mistakenly get updated to 7.

So, rollback?

It's expected that we should be able to do this. Especially if your device is more than a few years old, and you update it, then the update doesn't work for you you can't roll it back AND Apple will no longer support the device, so you're simply screwed.

The ability to rollback an OS should be a requirement, unless that version of the OS is fatally flawed for some reason.

Re:Rollback? I hate iOS 7.x. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46517183)

I haven't upgraded past IOS 5.1.1, for these same reasons. I finally had a need to upgrade recently, when an application that I wanted to run required IOS 6. Unfortunately, the only version I can upgrade to is IOS 7. There is no way, in a thousand years, that I will upgrade to that piece of garbage OS. Every time I have to use my wife's phone, I get nauseated from the way everything flies around the screen. It's very reminiscent of motion sickness. My next OS update will come with a hardware upgrade to an Android phone.

Too much server integration to go back (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#46516375)

The problem with making the argument that you should be able to revert to older versions of software is that software is more and more getting at least some functionality from a server component. Sure that server has to allow migration from an older version to the next, but the truth is you just can't maintain server versions for every client forever.

This isn't even a mobile only issue anymore as lots of desktop software these days has server interaction. It's a consequence of moving to a world with more pervasive networking.

Re:Too much server integration to go back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516611)

that's ridiculous by that logic you shouldn't be able to run an old version at all unless everyone updated instantly and at the same time.

Treating a symptom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46516391)

This is just a manifestation of the complaint of the lack of control a user has over their device. It comes as no surprise that phones and tablets are the worst offenders; these devices typically allow the user less freedom.

Downgrading is a horrible idea. (1)

psyhofreak (795109) | about 5 months ago | (#46516403)

Sure, occasionally it would be nice to go back. However there are even more reasons why this is just a bad idea. The upgrade might be required to work with changes to the back-end server for example. If the phone's OS had a "go back" button, it would just go back to one that does not work at all. Another is if the data in local storage got upgraded by the new version, to something that just makes the old version crash instantly. I've never done that deliberately, but I have done that.

Ultimately, the best solution is for the users to quit being such whiney bitches.

Re:Downgrading is a horrible idea. (4, Insightful)

JohnFen (1641097) | about 5 months ago | (#46516581)

Sure, occasionally it would be nice to go back.

Or more than occasionally, if I've forgotten to turn of the abomination that is automatic updates.

The upgrade might be required to work with changes to the back-end server for example.

Which is yet another point in the lengthy list of reasons to avoid anything that depends on the cloud or proprietary third party servers to function.

Ultimately, the best solution is for the users to quit being such whiney bitches.

Ultimately, the best solution is for developers who can't bring themselves to actually take customer needs and desires seriously (or at least to stop insulting them) to get out of the business that they obviously loathe.

Re:Downgrading is a horrible idea. (1)

maliqua (1316471) | about 5 months ago | (#46516657)

what's with the string of people saying "No you can't because of something server side" if something server side prevented you from rolling back due to incompatibility it would prevent people who haven't upgraded from working in the same way.

The best solution, in your opinion is to STFU and do what apple and google says is best for us then?

I have never heard an opinion on this site i respected less.

Alternate solution: (0)

Peter Kingsbury (3046159) | about 5 months ago | (#46516427)

Open source released software.

Don't like the new version? Fork it yourself, and fix it yourself.

Or stop whining.

Re:Alternate solution: (2)

azav (469988) | about 5 months ago | (#46516463)

This is a GREAT idea for my grandmother!

Oh, wait.

Even if this was something she was inclined and able to do, Apple locks it down for market share and security.

OSS is great! But it can be modified by anyone capable for good means or bad.

Why I didn't upgrade to iOS 7 for a long time. (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 5 months ago | (#46516481)

This is exactly why I didn't upgrade to iOS 7 when it came out. I had heard that Apple invalidated the checksum for iOS 6 so you couldn't install it from a backup in case you needed to restore your phone after upgrading. My iPhone 4 worked rock-solid with iOS 6, but I had heard iOS 7 had extremely bad performance on it.

Since iOS 7.2 was recently released and supposedly offered better performance on the iPhone 4, I decided to roll the dice and install it. No problems so far over the past week (fingers crossed). The only issue I had was Numbers got updated automatically, now making that version incompatible with the version on my iMac running Mountain Lion, so I was basically forced to upgrade that to Mavericks just so I could open spreadsheets on both. Thankfully, the upgrade to Mavericks was pretty smooth too, and my computer actually seems to be running better. That used to be the case with OS X up until the change from Snow Leopard to Lion.

This would fix bait and switch adware games (1)

Andy_R (114137) | about 5 months ago | (#46516501)

It seems to be an increasingly common tactic for games developers to put out an advert-free game, wait for it to gain market share, then force an 'upgrade' that has no improvements at all, but is crammed with so many adverts that the game is barely playable. I deleted "4 words 1 picture" when it turned into "4 words, 1 picture, 1 full screen advert", but I would rather have kept the old, playable version on my phone.

OS Backup and restore... (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 5 months ago | (#46516571)

- Windows you can backup / restore / reload
- Andriod you can backup / restore / reload
- UNIX you can backup / restore / reload
- OSX you can backup / restore / reload
- iOS you can .... ooops.....

It does like like there may be some rollback options for iOS users, though. See http://downgradeios7.com/ [downgradeios7.com] .

Harder than it sounds (5, Insightful)

Eric Green (627) | about 5 months ago | (#46516745)

I've been in charge of update deployment and strategy for several companies now. There's a few issues that come into play when deciding whether an update can be reverted or not. For a trivial app that doesn't maintain much data there's no real issue. Anything that does maintain real data, you must determine whether the database schema change between version A and version B is backwards compatible so that you can roll from B back to A. If the database schema change is incompatible, then you can't roll back. Same thing with on-disk data formats in general. I have Fedora 20 installed on one of my systems. If I wanted to roll back to the previous Centos 6 I couldn't, because the XFS file system format changed between 2.6.32 and 3.12. Centos won't mount Fedora 20 XFS filesystems.

Then there's binary compatibility issues. One release of one employer's software was based on Fedora 7 with a lot of modifications (different kernel, various applications updated, etc.). The next major release was, due to a gigantic change in hardware architecture for their newest systems, based on Fedora 13, including a major version update to Postgres for the database. The upgrade process runs out of a special imaging initrd and consists of save off the database with pg_dump to a couple of data drives, wipe out the base OS, plop on the new base OS, install the new application layer on top of the base OS, and restore the database with pg_restore. The pg_dump and pg_restore are necessary because the binary format of Postgres databases changed between the two different versions of Postgres. Downgrading in this case is impossible because the older version didn't know how to do pg_dump and pg_restore, since its previous releases had used the same antique version of Postgres (a version so old it wouldn't even compile under Fedora 13).

Finally, there's the question of whether an update scheme even has provisions for forcing arbitrary versions. The ones I've designed did, mostly because they were for very large data storage appliances where you didn't want anything updating automatically because scheduling a service outage for the update is a Big Deal for big data storage systems and where you needed the ability to roll back to the previous version if the update happened half-baked (if, say, the power supplies both blew out halfway through the update and left it only halfway on the disk). So you had to manually select which version you wished to update to, based on a list of what was compatible with your hardware and current installed version. But it appears to me that Apple has no such ability within their App Store interface. They make only the latest version available, period, even if it isn't compatible with your older iDevice.

So: Being able to roll back to the older version of the software is a lofty goal. But sometimes it just isn't feasible. On our web application once the database format has been updated to a new incompatible schema and new data is flowing in, there's no going back -- even though we saved off a copy of the old database before doing the database schema change, going back would discard all the new data that's flowed in since. So we cross our fingers, run it in parallel with a clone of the old system's data stream for a while to assure ourselves it won't blow up, and test the bleep out of it before cutting it over as the active version. Because once it's been in service for over a couple of hours there's no going back -- people may tolerate losing a few updates, but not days worth.

That said, when I had my Europa Universalis IV save games wiped out by an update to EUIV that Steam auto-updated without my consent or knowledge, I certainly was peeved! I should have at least been given the opportunity to *not* update, which even Apple gives you. That would have allowed me to spend a couple of days researching the update and waiting for people's feedback on whether it was worthy or not. Instead... sigh. So it goes.

This killed TuneUp (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 5 months ago | (#46516799)

Anyone remember TuneUp for iTunes? I got an email from the TuneUp team a couple days ago announcing the developers had reclaimed the codebase. Seems after the 3.0 release which was apparently so bad and no way to revert to 2.4, that they had a user uprising and the company literally imploded dealing with the ongoing crises. Seems in this case, having a rollback plan in place could have saved the company by giving angry users an out and averting a complete crises.

Backups (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 5 months ago | (#46516803)

Why do you need the ability to rollback to a previous version built into individual applications? You are already keeping backups, whether it's Windows restore points, Time Machine, or simply syncing your Android or iOS device before you install new software, right?

You're not? And you think that every application developer should devote time and money to making up for that?

It's all about jailbreaking. (1)

ITEM-3 (3348273) | about 5 months ago | (#46516845)

The point of most of the updates to mobile devices, especially in the case of Apple, is to patch security flaws which allowed users to jailbreak their devices. If users could downgrade their OS, Apple would be powerless to prevent people from escaping the walled garden. Nintendo did the same thing with the Wii; the sole purpose of several updates was to break the Homebrew Channel. Honestly, I'm surprised we're not forced to upgrade as soon as the update is ready, although I imagine that will change in the coming years.

A few years ago, (2)

k31 (98145) | about 5 months ago | (#46516965)

there were articles complaining that software was never updated on mobile devices, even though the technical facility to do so was.

Now that is is being updated, complain about that, too.

If companies kept a backwards compatibility support team, the cost of new products would be higher... and you would complain about that, too, I suppose.

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