November 27th, 2008 • 11:54 am
Today, my weekly Software Update check displayed the following:
Now, you need to remember that my Internet connection is such that, whenever I have to download software updates, I always prefer to download them in a format that I can keep, so that I don’t have to download them again in case I have to re-apply them in the future.
I also provide technical support to a number of Mac users, and they don’t all have access to high-bandwidth connections, so it’s always handy to have a local copy of all the latest updates on a portable hard drive.
In other words, whenever a new software update becomes available through Mac OS X’s Software Update, I need to download it in a way that enables me to keep a local copy of it.
The default behaviour of the Software Update application in Mac OS X does not support this. It downloads the update, installs it, and then only keeps some kind of “receipt” that confirms that the update has been installed, but it does not keep the update package itself.
Fortunately, Software Update also has an alternative process called “,” accessible via its “ ” menu:
Unfortunately, in my experience at least, this process no longer works reliably in Leopard. On several occasions, when I have tried to use this option, especially for updates that require a restart, I have been able to install the update, only to find afterwards that Mac OS X had not kept the package anywhere on my hard drive.
This is undoubtedly due to the fact that, instead of leaving downloads on the desktop, by default Leopard now stores them in the “Downloads” folder. This is fine by me, except that, for some reason, this change has caused Software Update’s “ ” command to stop working properly, at least on my machine, with my Internet connection.
(I suspect that this is partly related to the relative unreliability of my Internet connection. If Software Update has several update packages to download and if one of them fails, this seems to disrupt the whole process of keeping the packages, even for the other packages that it has managed to download and install successfully. But I have not done enough tests to confirm this.)
So, in order not to waste bandwidth, systematically now, when Software Update announces a new update, instead of using the Software Update application to download it, I go to the Apple web site and locate the stand-alone updater there, and download it from there. This way, I am sure that I will have a local copy of the updater.
Sadly, Software Update provides no directly links to the corresponding stand-alone software updaters, so I have to manually locate them myself, by going to the Downloads page in the Support section on Apple’s web site, and then following the links.
Unfortunately, for various reasons related to marketing considerations, some of the downloads are not available directly from the Downloads page in the Support section on Apple’s web site. You have to click on the link for the download, and then it takes you to a different page, which differs depending on the type of product.
If it is for a cross-platform application such as iTunes or Safari, for example, you have to endure a promotional page for the product and a form that asks you for your e-mail address, etc.
As a Mac OS X user who’s already using Safari 3.2, do I really need to be reminded of the reasons why I “will love Safari” and to register to be kept “up to date with Apple news, software updates, etc.” in order to be able to just download the Safari 3.2.1 updater? I don’t think so… But that’s the way it is, thanks to Apple’s marketing department. (And the Safari download page does not even mention that it’s now version 3.2.1 instead of version 3.2, by the way. You just have to assume that 3.2.1 is what you are actually going to get.)
To make matters worse, this download page for Safari has a shelf-life of about ten minutes. If you leave it open longer than that without using the Download link right away, and then try to use that Download link, here’s what you get:
I was not away from my computer “for a while,” Apple. I was at my computer in Mail for 10 bloody minutes, just typing a message in Mail before I returned to your bloody marketing page, which was taking forever to load. But obviously this is enough to cause your session to expire. Poor thing.
Things are even worse for pro applications. Here, Apple, like other software companies, tends to make the assumption that there are more pirates out there than legitimate users. So legitimate users have to go through additional hoops in order to be able to download the updates that they are entitled to.
I am a legitimate user of the latest version of Logic Studio. But I do not own Final Cut Studio. Since the “Pro Applications Update 2008-04” update appears in Software Update on my machine, I am assuming that it is because my copy of Logic Studio needs it. And indeed this is what the text description says for the update in Software Update:
Pro Applications Updates improve reliability for Apple’s professional applications and are recommended for all users of Final Cut Studio, Final Cut Server, and Logic Studio. Pro Applications Update 2008-04 addresses general performance issues and improves overall stability.
So I go to the Downloads page in the Support section on Apple’s web site in order to try and locate the stand-alone download for this update. Here’s what I find:
The first thing I notice is that the name of the update is not the same. In Software Update, it is called “Pro Apps Updates 2008-004.” But I suppose that these are minor discrepancies and this is the same update we are talking about here..” On the Apple web site, it is called “
So I click on the “Download” button for it. And this takes me to…
Oops. Apple, I do not own Final Cut Studio. I own Logic Studio. Is this update for me or not? Software Update seems to think so. Your web site obviously has other ideas.
The Final Cut Studio page asks me to log in with my Apple ID and then enter my… Final Cut Studio serial number!
Obviously I don’t have one, so I am stuck.
That is, until I remember that I have already been through this before and that, the last time, I had to ignore the links on the “Downloads” page altogether and go manually to the Logic Studio pages by myself.
So I open a new Safari window and I enter:
Miracles of miracles. This is an actual page, and it’s even the right one! I enter my Apple ID, and then my Logic Studio serial number and then, yes, I am finally taken to the page with the links for the latest Logic Studio updates:
Only now the latest update is called “Pro Applications Update 2008-04” again, but it weighs… 149.3 MB instead of the 26.4 MB indicated in the Software Update application!
Dear oh dear. With my limited bandwidth, am I going to download a 149.3 MB updater instead of a 26.4 MB one just because it’s the only stand-alone updater available? I don’t think so.
I guess I’ll just have to bite the bullet and use the Software Update option after all. I’ll try the “” option again, but there’s no guarantee that it will work. I don’t think there is anyone at Apple with a low-bandwidth connection anymore, so they obviously don’t really care about the needs of such users.
And as an epilogue… Here’s what I got after experimenting with various pages on the Apple web site in the process of writing this blog post:
Nice. So now I need to enter a Final Cut Studio serial number in order to get my copy of Safari 3.2.1?
I am not making this up. This is exactly what I got. I ended up having to close all the Safari windows and start again from scratch.
I know very well that this can all be avoided by simply using the Software Update application—which I would do if the “” option worked properly. But in my experience, in Leopard, it no longer does. And with my limited bandwidth I simply cannot afford to download the same large packages multiple times just for the fun of it.
It is bad enough that the needs of dial-up users are constantly being ignored. But obviously for Apple’s engineers even a somewhat better Internet connection such as a satellite hookup is still too lowly to worry about.
No wonder Apple is sometimes accused of being arrogant and elitist.