My program is the most important thing on your system, same as all the others.

Raymond had a really good post yesterday about programs that grab your attention inappropriately.  I recommend reading it.  The comments have some good examples of programs, mostly updaters, that take too many liberties.  Of course, I completely agree that popping something up in my face completely unrelated to the task I’m performing is among the most annoying things that a computer can do.

So I was reading Raymond’s post and nodding to myself over the idea that programs shouldn’t be so intrusive.  About halfway through, an update dialog popped up on top of the paragraph I was reading.  This dialog informed me that Firefox is available to install, and asked me if I’d like to restart Firefox in order to install it.  No thanks, I’m kinda busy reading about annoying software.  So I click the ‘Later’ button (Note that updaters in general never give the ‘No and stop bothering me’ option anymore – I guess too many people clicked it), and am told that I can continue and the update will be applied the next time I restart Firefox.  That seems reasonable.  So reasonable, in fact, that I wonder why didn’t the updater just do that, instead of interrupting my task?

Ah, some coincidences are just too ironic not to write about.

Comments (4)

  1. Alan Peery says:

    Why did Firefox need to tell you?  Don’t you run your browser for days/weeks at a time?  I do.  And If I didn’t know to restart my browser, it might be days before a critical security flaw gets fixed…

  2. Ryan Bemrose says:

    There are a number of ways to provide this notification without popping up a modal dialog on top of what I’m doing.  I agree that the update requires action.  I disagree that it requires action RIGHT NOW, which is what a modal dialog demands.

  3. OJG says:

    An even worse example of "my program is the most important thing on your system" is the Windows Update dialog box that keep popping up every 15 minutes until the machine has been rebooted. I once sat through a Powerpoint presentation, watching the presenter having to click away the dialog box every 15 minutes. Needless to say, Microsoft was not his (or our) favorite company that day…

  4. Larry Osterman says:

    OJG: The reason that the WU dialog pops up (as toast in the toolbar, never taking focus) is that MS found that we had a number of customers who had downloaded patches and installed them but never rebooted – the toast  is a reminder.

    You can disable the toast if you want to, and in Vista it becomes less intrusive.

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