Freeware which constantly updates with newer versions – Good or Bad?


freeware_2There is some truly awesome freeware out there, some of which is unfortunately marred by the bundling of toolbars, advertizing modules and other sundry parasitic extras. Bundling aside, what is your take on freeware which is clean but is being regularly and constantly updated with newer versions? I guess there are two possible schools of thought; 1) that the developer is on the ball and continually improving the software… and 2) why the need for all the constant program updates, why didn’t the developer just get it right in the first place. I tend to fall into the latter category.

Of course, there are some freeware products which, by their very nature, require regular updates, security programs in particular. However, there are a number of popular freeware products which do not appear to be bound by these necessities yet continue to release newer versions ad nauseum.

Calibre (Portable) eBook Converter – why all the updates?

A prime example is the terrific ebook conversion freeware Calibre (Portable), one of my must have applications yet one which also irritates me no-end with it’s constant updates requiring a fresh download each time. Here is a list of the recent official changelog dates, extracted direct from the Calibre site, indicating new version releases from the developer(s):

calibre 1

As you can see, this equates to a new version released at the rate of approximately one every week… and this history extends way beyond the past couple of months I have detailed here. Now, I concede that this is an area where the occasional update may be necessitated, but once a week… really?

CCleaner – why all the updates?

Another freeware which suffers with similar ‘update diarrhea’ is the perennial old favorite CCleaner. Piriform releases a new version, regular as clockwork, each and every month. Here is a rundown of the last 5 new version releases:

      Version Number       Release Date
   4.06.4324    September 25th
   4.05.4250    August 26th
   4.04.4197    July 25th
   4.03.4151    June 25th
   4.02.4115    May 27th

It’s not too difficult to comprehend why an updated version should be released occasionally for this type of software, mainly to help keep up with newer operating systems, newly released applications, or changes to existing ones but… I do find it very difficult to believe that this would necessitate anything like regular monthly updates.


Macrium Reflect Free – why all the updates?

Macrium Reflect Free is a another excellent product and another which releases updated versions with tedious monotony:

       Version Number         Release Date
    5.2.6427       October 23rd
    5.2.6399       September 27th
    5.2.6377       September 6th
    5.2.6354       August 5th
    5.2.6348       July 26th

Again, this is an area where one can quite understand the occasional new version release but what could possibly be happening every 3 weeks or so to necessitate all these updates?

I’m sure there would be plenty more examples but these are just three I use and recommend which all seem to follow a similarly irritating update regimen. While I can fully appreciate the requirements fundamental to further development, I find it difficult to believe that the technologies associated with these products are advancing at the same accelerated rate as the updates might suggest.

I can also appreciate that developers may be unaware of some bugs until such times as their software reaches a wider audience and feedback begins filtering through, but I find it equally difficult to understand how bugs and bug fixes just happen to crop up at such regularly spaced and consistent intervals. If there are indeed that many bugs being exposed as to necessitate so many updates so close together, then surely the developer should be checking/testing the software more thoroughly in the first place?

Maybe I am getting just too old and cranky but I have gotten to the stage now where I simply ignore most of the update notifications emanating from these products and just download a new version every now and then.


What do you think?

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About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.

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