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Software downgrades – Windows v. Apple

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Microsoft has gotten a lot of flak about their new operating system.  Vista was supposed to be a major improvement, especially by adding tighter security.  But it turns out that the enhanced security is not very user-friendly.  Vista has other problems as well.  The funny thing is Vista took a long time to come out, and people were really excited about it.  Some people even waited to buy new computers so that they could get the upgrade preloaded.  Now, some of those same people are super annoyed.  Computer manufacturers are offering customers who bought new computers loaded with Vista a free downgrade to XP.  I know a couple of people with new Vista computers who are excited about getting this downgrade.

Yesterday Apple upgraded its iTunes software.  The purpose was to force upgrades to iPhones, partly to install a few new features.  But, mostly, it was to modify the iPhone to stop hackers from circumventing the lock-in to AT&T.  Apple doesn’t have the market share of Microsoft, but it’s growing and so is Apple’s stock price.  And, as Apple grows, it’s starting to act more like Microsoft.

My iPhone was acting strange yesterday and I had to reboot continually.  For example, I’d have to reboot 4 or 5 times just to get the phone to start acting normal.  Then a few minutes later it would freeze and then I’d have to do 2 or 3 reboots to get it right.  I called AppleCare three times. 

The first time I called I found out that there was an upgrade to the iPhone.  Naturally, I assumed this would solve the problem.  It didn’t.  Further problems ensued and I wound up spending about 2 hours without any phone service.  At one point I had to ‘Restore’ the phone, which meant having the phone wiped completely clean and reinstalling everything. During that lengthy process my phone was useless.  To me, anyway.

The new upgrade adds the iTunes Music store to the iPhone.  I didn’t really want that feature, but some people might like being able to send money to Apple right from their phone.  However, I was curious about the interface for the iTunes music store and so I clicked on the icon and guess what?  My phone went into freeze mode. 

Nice job Apple!  Excellent upgrade.

Today, the phone only had be rebooted about 12 times, and I only had about 1 hour of no phone service.  I read that a lot of people are unhappy about the new software upgrade to the iPhone.  Surprise, surprise.  Perhaps they’re hoping for a downgrade like Microsoft Vista users got.  That won’t happen because Apple made this ‘upgrade’ permanent.  Why?  To keep users from doing bad things to their phones.  And by ‘bad things’ I mean ‘things that impair Apple’s revenue stream.’

I understand that Apple has locked itself into an agreement with AT&T that forces it deal with the hack-around.  Of course, in attempting to solve a problem that is tied to only small minority of iPhone owners, Apple has adversely affected at least as many iPhone owners that were not doing anything "bad."  I paid $600 for my iPhone and switched from Sprint (a company that I was perfectly happy with) to AT&T.  I stood in line the first day the iPhone was offered to do all this.  Recently, the iPhone price dropped to $400.  Fine, I can deal with that.  I don’t mind ‘overpaying’ for a revolutionary new phone that works reliably. But, I do mind being constantly jolted by upgrades that don’t improve performance, and arguably degrade it in many cases.

I don’t know if my current problems are tied to the new upgrade.  I kind of doubt it because most of the problems I am having were there before the upgrade (well, the morning before I upgraded).  But the upgrade certainly didn’t solve my iPhone problems.  I’m pretty sure that future upgrades will be more about preserving network lock-in than they will be about enhancing device performance. 

I won’t be surprised to see Apple becoming increasingly at odds with its customers.  It’s not Apple’s fault, really.  It’s just the way that corporations are.  They like their customers’ money far more than they like their customers.

Incidentally, I only had to reboot my iPhone once during the time that I was composing this post. Oh, and if you have an iPhone and want to share your story with Apple click here.


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

One Comment

  • As a user of both apple and windows, they both have their strengths. I take a cautious approach to new operating systems and buy them after they’ve been out for a while, regardless of the brand.

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