Difference between revisions of "2224: Software Updates"

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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(Explanation: A mention of emulators and virtual machines as a method of continuing to run an otherwise unrunnable program.)
m
Line 37: Line 37:
 
Newest Version
 
Newest Version
  
[which shows the version number of each new version of the software at the time it is released. The lower line is labeled]
+
[Which shows the version number of each new version of the software at the time it is released. The lower line is labeled]
  
 
Oldest Supported Version
 
Oldest Supported Version
  
[which shows the version number of the oldest version that the vendor of the software provides support for at each time. The area between the two lines is shaded and is labeled]
+
[Which shows the version number of the oldest version that the vendor of the software provides support for at each time. The area between the two lines is shaded and is labeled]
  
 
Support Zone
 
Support Zone
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[At each point in time, the vertical column of shaded area goes from the oldest version that is supported then up to the latest version that is available then. At each version number point, the horizontal shaded area goes from the time that version was released to the time that support for that version was dropped]
 
[At each point in time, the vertical column of shaded area goes from the oldest version that is supported then up to the latest version that is available then. At each version number point, the horizontal shaded area goes from the time that version was released to the time that support for that version was dropped]
  
[Inside the shaded ares is a solid line that is labeled at the start point with]
+
[Inside the shaded area is a solid line that is labeled at the start point with]
  
 
First Install
 
First Install
  
[which is the version and the time at which the author first installed the software. The line itself is labeled]
+
[Which is the version and the time at which the author first installed the software. The line itself is labeled]
  
 
My current version
 
My current version
  
[which shows the version number the author has installed at any time. The line goes up at each time that he upgraded to a new version.]
+
[Which shows the version number the author has installed at any time. The line goes up at each time that he upgraded to a new version.]
  
 
[One point of that line is labeled]
 
[One point of that line is labeled]
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??? The Abyss
 
??? The Abyss
  
[with an arrow pointing to the right in the direction of increasing time. That is the time of unknown effects as he continues to use an increasingly old version of the software that does not receive any of the new features, bug and security fixes, or compatibility upgrades that are released in the new versions]
+
[With an arrow pointing to the right in the direction of increasing time. That is the time of unknown effects as he continues to use an increasingly old version of the software that does not receive any of the new features, bug and security fixes, or compatibility upgrades that are released in the new versions]
  
 
{{comic discussion}}
 
{{comic discussion}}

Revision as of 14:36, 5 November 2019

Software Updates
Everything is a cloud application; the ping times just vary a lot.
Title text: Everything is a cloud application; the ping times just vary a lot.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a CLOUD APPLICATION. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

As time passes, upgrades to most products are inevitable, with software being no exception.

However, as many updates create multiple versions, support for all of them can become a bit of a hassle for the company that creates them, so old versions frequently become unsupported after some years, or in some cases even months, of their releases.

For users that prefer to stay on old editions because of unfavorable changes in the newer programs, this can mean that they are left unsupported, causing them to become more susceptible to hard to solve bugs, newly discovered security vulnerabilities, or incompatibilities with newer versions of operating system or other software. Emulators or virtual machines are one way to keep such a program running as though it were in its native environment.

The punchline of the comic is the caption underneath the panel, "All software is software as a service". Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software runs on the vendor's computers (servers), accessed by customers remotely. The software is said to run "in the cloud" as "cloud applications". Customers purchase subscription licenses. Since the only copy of the software is that which the vendor runs on their own computers, all customers use the one latest version of the software, which is upgraded whenever the vendor chooses to. If the vendor removes or changes a feature that the customer prefers, or introduces a bug, the customer has no ability to remain with an older version. A major benefit of SaaS is that the customer never has to do anything to upgrade to the latest version of the software to get fixes to newly discovered bugs or security vulnerabilities. A major disadvantage of SaaS is that the customer may lose some feature of the software that they depend on, or get impacted by a new bug that is introduced by an upgrade to the software, and has no ability to run the older version.

With traditionally marketed software that they purchase to run on their own computers, customers can choose not to upgrade. Vendors will stop providing support for their oldest versions, which can cause problems for those customers who do not upgrade when bugs or security vulnerabilities are discovered, or newer versions of operating systems require changes in the software. A customer may eventually be forced into the bind of having to upgrade just to be able to run the software, but then lose the feature in the software that they depend on.

Since vendors eventually stop supporting the older versions of software, and over time more problems may appear that make it more difficult to continue to run the unsupported versions, in a way all software has the same disadvantages that SaaS presents by forcing everyone to upgrade. In that sense "All software is Software as a Service".

The title text refers to a different aspect of cloud applications. Since they run "in the cloud" on remote computers, they are subject to the effects of network speed to the servers. The time for data to be sent to a server and a response to be received back is called the "ping time".

Since a "cloud server" is just a computer, there is no fundamental difference between software running remotely and software running locally on a user's computer. The biggest difference is that software running locally will respond almost instantly to user input, whereas software running remotely may take longer to respond, since the data first needs to be sent over a network (the internet), processed, and then sent back to the user's computer. In addition, the chance of data loss (packet loss) may cause the response to be even slower, as data has to be re-sent, or often result in no response at all. Hence, in practice, this can have an enormous impact on the experience of using remote software vs software that runs locally (as anyone who has tried online gaming on a laggy server can attest).

However, technically speaking, there is a nonzero time taken for the data to travel from the user's keyboard onto the computer, across the various circuitry, and back to the monitor. Hence there is a "ping" time even for a local computer (in fact, many "gaming" monitors advertise low input lag, in the order of 1-5 milliseconds, as a feature). Therefore, you could technically say that all applications are cloud applications, just that some (local computers) have very fast ping times whereas for others (servers on another continent) it may be quite slow.

This ignores the fact that being a "cloud application" implies that it runs on a server in a remote location. The joke is like saying that everyone commutes to work - including those that "work from home" - but their commute times just vary a lot. For example, consider the "commute" from your bedroom to your home office.

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.

[A graph with Time on the X-axis and Software Version Number on the Y-axis. The upper line is labeled]

Newest Version

[Which shows the version number of each new version of the software at the time it is released. The lower line is labeled]

Oldest Supported Version

[Which shows the version number of the oldest version that the vendor of the software provides support for at each time. The area between the two lines is shaded and is labeled]

Support Zone

[At each point in time, the vertical column of shaded area goes from the oldest version that is supported then up to the latest version that is available then. At each version number point, the horizontal shaded area goes from the time that version was released to the time that support for that version was dropped]

[Inside the shaded area is a solid line that is labeled at the start point with]

First Install

[Which is the version and the time at which the author first installed the software. The line itself is labeled]

My current version

[Which shows the version number the author has installed at any time. The line goes up at each time that he upgraded to a new version.]

[One point of that line is labeled]

An update finally breaks a feature I'm unwilling to lose

[That point is at a time where the Newest Version line goes up and My Current Version stays horizontal for the rest of the time line, showing that he is unwilling to upgrade any more]

[The My Current Version line to the right of the shaded area is labeled]

??? The Abyss

[With an arrow pointing to the right in the direction of increasing time. That is the time of unknown effects as he continues to use an increasingly old version of the software that does not receive any of the new features, bug and security fixes, or compatibility upgrades that are released in the new versions]


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Discussion

Not related to this comic in particular, but the advertisements on this site have become a little (well, actually well past that) too obtrusive for use on a computer that won't let you install an ad blocker (like, uh, a managed Chromebook). Oh, imagine trying to use a computer that won't let you install something as necessary in 2019 as an ad blocker in 2019. 172.68.59.42 01:11, 5 November 2019 (UTC)

Yup. I've added the ongoing discussion to the bottom of this talk page. --NeatNit (talk) 12:03, 5 November 2019 (UTC)

Really? For me it's only a tiny rectangular ad in the bottom left when I disable my blocker. 172.69.34.20 01:53, 5 November 2019 (UTC)

I saw bunches of ads artificially injected in here between these comments last week, this week I see literally none, so I think whoever added them - so horribly intrusively that it sparked an ongoing discussion that transcended the separate comics - saw the complaints and turned them back off. NiceGuy1 (talk)

I bet that this is in reference to the removal of close other tabs from Chrome. 173.245.54.37 03:23, 5 November 2019 (UTC)

I doubt it. The feature is easily duplicated by simply tearing out the tab you want to keep and then closing the other window. I doubt that would be a dealbreaker. Plus, well, Chrome doesn't play nice with trying to stay on the older version. Trlkly (talk) 03:29, 5 November 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, there are far too many other examples of unwelcome changes to far too many pieces of software to think this is referring to this in particular.--162.158.75.166 10:35, 5 November 2019 (UTC)
However, there are quite lot of very unwelcomed changes specifically in major browsers ... Mozilla's decision to stop supporting original format of their extensions comes into mind ... -- Hkmaly (talk) 04:43, 6 November 2019 (UTC)

It's not so clear to me that SaaS requires the software to run in the Cloud. Adobe's Creative Cloud is argued to be Software as a Service, but the programs actually run on the local system. Trlkly (talk) 03:29, 5 November 2019 (UTC)

The definition in the Wikipedia article on SaaS includes that requirement. I would describe Adobe Creative Cloud more like the way its Wikipedia article does, as providing a combination of software applications delivered on a subscription model, mobile apps, and cloud services, with only the latter being the SaaS part. Bugstomper (talk) 03:51, 5 November 2019 (UTC)

Yes, Photoshop is installed on my machine, and I can run it when I'm not connected to the Internet. Definitely not SaaS. SaaS doesn't have to be from the cloud, but it must be something served when you use it. — Kazvorpal (talk) 06:20, 5 November 2019 (UTC)

I think the explanation is probably misinterpreting the intent of the title text. Given the point of the main comic, rather than saying some have very fast ping times, I think it's saying they may have very slow ping time, on the order of months or years, between times when they decide to download an updated version. The explanation written here definitely feels off, as lots of software running doesn't involve even a local office server, but runs entirely on the computer in front of the user, and again it doesn't relate to the main comic.--108.162.216.46 06:58, 5 November 2019 (UTC)

I was going to say the same. Cloud software will include some frontend code to display data to the user; often some javascript in a webpage. I think the title text is treating 'regular' software as if the developers and their computers creating updates are the part which runs "in the cloud". In some cases, this might mean actually sending off for disks for an update (a 'ping time' in weeks), and the timeout before disconnection causes an error could be years or longer. 141.101.77.50 09:22, 5 November 2019 (UTC)
The part about a "server in the same office" should just be removed. Software on your own computer is also running in the cloud - there's no fundamental difference between software running locally or remotely except for the connectivity issues (latency and packet loss etc.) in transferring the data. Your own computer is a "cloud server" with extremely fast (a few milliseconds) ping, whereas accessing a server on another continent may cause latency of a few hundred milliseconds (or more, if packet loss is bad enough) and this is what the "ping times vary a lot" line is referring to. I don't think it's referring to software updates. -- Pureawes0me (talk) 09:45, 5 November 2019 (UTC)
Again, that interpretation would be a lot more credible if the primary topic of the main comic wasn't about updating software with very long intervals in between. Making the point you are saying doesn't match at all, and isn't nearly as clever or entertaining of an observation. The very absurdity of claiming waiting weeks or months for a software update is a "ping time" (which is normally something measured in milliseconds) seems to match the typical kind of humor of this comic. Reminds me of that comic a bit ago with the fruit vending machine that required you to wait for a tree to grow.--162.158.75.166 10:35, 5 November 2019 (UTC)
It could refer to both. Therefore they vary a lot.

Oh, hey, that looks like my Android version (because Google apparently thinks no one would want to record their own calls). 162.158.142.118 09:50, 5 November 2019 (UTC)

Would just like to mention that the definition of 'software as a service' is actually that you pay for a subscription, that is a regular reoccurring fee. That's not usually the case. 17:28, 5 November 2019 (UTC)

If you have to be compatible with other users and the file formats (or whatever) change, it could end up being a "regular recurring" fee for all practical purposes, paid at whatever interval your friends or colleagues allow before they expect you to have upgraded. Angel (talk) 18:14, 5 November 2019 (UTC)
That would be an 'irregular' reoccurring fee, as opposed to a 'regular' one. A 'regular' one is one that's periodic and the period is the same each time. 162.158.214.82 18:39, 6 November 2019 (UTC)

I am confused about the location of the label Newest version. Wouldn't the newest version be located at the highest line in the diagram? Unless the lines above "Newest version" are future versions? Rtanenbaum (talk) 18:02, 5 November 2019 (UTC)

The arrow is pointing to the upper edge of the shaded region. The upper edge of that region represents the "newest version" at any moment in time, while the lower edge of the shaded region represents the oldest supported version. Angel (talk) 18:14, 5 November 2019 (UTC)
Thanks, now it makes sense. It would be a little clearer if the arrow for Newest version was pointing to the upper horizontal line and the arrow for Oldest version was pointing to the lower horizontal line of the shaded area, instead of pointing to the vertical lines. To my interpretation, vertical lines mark points in time and horizontal lines mark versions. What do you think? Rtanenbaum (talk) 18:32, 5 November 2019 (UTC)
I think it is only because you saw it the wrong way to begin with. The arrow points to the two darker gray lines, surrounding the light gray area. The lines represents the newest version number existing and the oldest version number supported. It does not matter which part of the line that the arrows point to, as it is the entire line that is representing what the labels say. It is not where the arrow point to the lines that is important. As the label is for the entire line. This is unlike the two points marked with dots on the black line, which is a particular point in time. --Kynde (talk) 14:05, 6 November 2019 (UTC)

Speaking of unsupported... Now that Apple is dumping all support for 32-bit apps, it's worse than just using an unsupported app: those of us with "legacy" 32-bit apps will have to run an unsupported Operating System that no doubt will not work with all sorts of upcoming apps. I don't even want to think about the number of apps that I will have to pay to upgrade to 64bit. Cellocgw (talk) 12:23, 6 November 2019 (UTC)

There is one app, that I think we can all agree is a blessing that it has gone away, Flash Player! Good riddance! Rtanenbaum (talk) 14:08, 6 November 2019 (UTC)

No, we do not all agree. :) Also I won't consider it gone until sites stop using it, and I haven't seen that yet. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:00, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

Funny, this comic so well encapsulates where I just got with iTunes. Except that "break" was intentional, LOL! Idiots split off Books and a few other things into separate apps, because of course people would rather have 10 programs clogging up their computers than just 1. Since I actually use the Books feature, to sync to my iPad, that's a deal breaker, no more updates for me. And "app" doesn't sound like something available for a Windows computer, just mobile devices and strangely Macs because Apple is a collection of weirdo idiots who've lost touch with the real world. LOL! NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:00, 8 November 2019 (UTC)

I'm not telling you whether this comment is being written on my Dell Latitude laptop (still running XP) or my Tab 3 (still running Android 4.4.2), but this comic relates to me in so many ways... 162.158.154.175 00:07, 10 November 2019 (UTC)

My brother refused for years to update to IOS 7 on his iPad because he didn't like the new aesthetic. 172.68.70.70 14:25, 11 November 2019 (UTC)