Right after the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US, I asked folks how their “Upgrade Your Parents Browser Weekend” went. The “upgrade your parents meme” started that weekend with a post from Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic.
The notion being, when visiting our non-technical friends & family for the holidays, we have a moral obligation to bring them out of the stone ages. I took it a step further and declared December to be “Upgrade Your Friends & Family Month”. (I didn’t register the domain name though.)
One question you might ask is, “Why is this even necessary? Shouldn’t the browser just update itself?”
For non-technical consumers (a.k.a. “regular people”), I think the answer should be resounding “YES!”. I always have.
However, for varying reasons, I think the ‘political climate’ for doing that wasn’t there the past 10 years,especially with IE. (I’m thinking anti-trust, etc.) Paranoid people wearing tin hats (and large enterprise IT managers) fear people messing around with their computers like most of us fear a personal ‘appointment’ with a TSA agent at airport security.
Even before IE7 released in October 2006, Microsoft was keenly tuned to the paranoia and went out of their way to promote a tool that would actually PREVENT people from having their browser upgraded!
It’s 2011, and my how times have changed! When the Chrome browser came out a couple of years ago, it included ‘silent’ auto-updating by default. Earlier this year, Firefox adopted the same silent auto-updating as Chrome when Firefox 4 came out.
Then today, the other shoe dropped. The Internet Explorer team announced that they will begin auto-upgrading users to the latest browser version in January 2012! This will happen for users of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. If you’re on XP, you’ll get auto-upgraded to IE8. If you’re on Vista or 7, you’ll get auto-upgraded to IE9.
What’s the reaction been so far? I think it’s still sinking in for most folks, but a quick peek at Techmeme shows a few of them. Not what one might have expected 5 years ago. One from Sarah Perez that sticks out:
I couldn’t agree more! It seems the pendulum has swung from the paranoid “don’t install stuff on my machine” geeks to everyday users and consumers. Hopefully this will finally help move the web forward quicker! (A snap shot of more thoughts from Techmeme…)
I’m sure there will still always be the need to help Aunt Betty out with her computing needs around the holidays. However, I’m feeling a little better about my decision not to commission a domain name for “Upgrade Your Friends & Family Month”. Now, all of this “upgrade your browser” stuff should go the way of this fine creature…