Friday’s question: why does an iTunes upgrade need a full install?



I don’t know why I never thought to ask this question before, and I’m sure it’s been asked somewhere before but: when there’s a new Apple iTunes version available, why does it require a full download of iTunes? Seriously. This is a "point" upgrade, meaning today I’m going from iTunes 7.0.1 to 7.0.2 and there are some very minor fixes or updates and no major new functionality expected. Being the good little iTuner that I am, I of course click Yes only to be greeted by this:


Somebody help me understand how 35 MB are required for a minor upgrade…actually, you won’t ever succeed because the "upgrade" isn’t an upgrade at all. It’s a full download and reinstall over your old client so that it can preserve your personal settings.

"What’s the big deal?" you ask. Good question, because on the surface, it’s not a big deal. In fact, it’s not a big deal to me at this given time either, simply because I’m at my home office. What if I was using Sammy on the road today, however? If you’re on the road with a mobile computing device and you got the screens above, how convenient is it to download 35 MB over a wireless connection? I realize not everyone has 3G at this point, so if you were on a wireless 1xRTT connection, you’d likely skip this "upgrade" and put it off until you got home.

I suppose this truly isn’t a big deal; after all: if you’re truly mobile most of the time, you likely have the connectivity and unlimited data plan you need to download this or anything else you need within a reasonable time-frame. Perhaps this bothers me because it’s a sloppy way to upgrade a client, especially a mobile client that has to waste time and wireless bandwidth to re-download something they already have 99% of in the first place. 



Also, it could be that they’re trying to break some of the FairPlay-defeating programs out there, which makes this “patch” not really patch-size anymore.


I suspect, depending on your perspective, it’s either laziness or expediency — or maybe both. Rather than create a patch for one set of folks and a complete install for another set of folks (yes, there are still a few of us who don’t use iTunes…yet), it’s probably easier and faster (for Apple, of course, not necessarily for end users) to create a one-size-fits-all solution.

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