Silent, automatic updates are the way to go

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Recently, PPK stated that he hates Google Chrome’s automatic updates. I disagree. In fact, I think that all browser vendors should enforce automatic updates as violently as Google Chrome does. There should be no option to disable them. For anybody.

But what about the user’s freedom of choice?

This might sound a bit facist at start, but imagine a world where all browsers would get automatically updated, without the possiblity of an opt-out. If you went online, you would be bound to have the very latest version, regardless of how computer (i)literate you were (Many — if not most — home users that don’t upgrade are like that because they think it’s too difficult for their computer expertise level). Sure, if you were a developer you wouldn’t be able to test a website in older browser versions. But why would you need to do so? If everybody had the latest browser version, you would only develop for the latest version and perhaps for the next one (via nightlies and betas, that could still be separate in that ideal world).

Imagine a world where your job wouldn’t have to involve tedious IE6 (and in a few weeks, no IE7 either), Firefox 2, Opera 9.5 and Safari 3.1- testing. A world where you would spend your work hours on more creative stuff, where you wouldn’t want to bang your head on the wall because you know you did nothing wrong but the ancient browser that you are currently testing in is just incompetent and YOU have to fix it’s sh*t. A world where the size of your Javascript code (and the JS libraries’ code) would be half its size and constantly decreasing as new browser versions come out. A world where you would only have 1 CSS file in most websites you develop. A world where you wouldn’t feel so bad because IE8 doesn’t support opacity, border-radius or SVG, because you would know that in 1-2 years everyone would have IE9 and it will probably support them. A world where designing a website would be as much fun as designing your personal blog.

Doesn’t such a world sound like a dream? Would it harm anyone? Users would browse a much lighter and beautiful web, with a more feature-rich and secure browser. Developers would work half as much to produce better results and they would enjoy their work more.

What about corporate intranets and abandoned sites that won’t keep up?

Oh come on, that isn’t a good enough reason to not make that dream come true! Companies and individuals could be allowed to have an older version of the browser installed as well. They still wouldn’t be able to opt out from the automatic upgrade, but they could apply somehow to have an older version of the browser in the same system as well. Similarly to what happens now with browser betas. People would use the older version to access corporate intranet applications and obsolete sites and the latest version to surf the web. I may be overly optimistic, but I think that if a user had both versions of a browser installed, (s)he would prefer the latest wherever (s)he can. Perhaps another step towards enforcing that would be if the OS prevented an older browser version from being set as the default browser, but I guess that would be too hard to do, especially if the browser in question is not the OS default one.

Other people who agree with me

What’s your opinion?