Software update cycle: faster every day

My Atari 2600 never got a firmware update. Not a single one. Neither did any of the game cartridges that came with it.

In the early days of software, ‘soft’ware was really just a different kind of hardware. It was built, packaged and shipped exactly once. If you shipped it with a bug, that bug would stay there.

‘Softer’ storage types (tapes, floppy disks, etc) and better distribution allowed software companies to release new versions more often. Many years between major versions became one or two years, but updates to a specific version were uncommon.

The internet shortened the cycle even further – turning one or two years to months for many software products, and allowing automatic updates of existing versions to fix bugs, patch security holes, and so on.

Seamless and fully-integrated update and application management technology, like the App Store for Mac, can bring the cycle down even futher – changing months to weeks between updates.

What happens when the cycle is even shorter? Then you get web products. Sites like or Amazon can push an updates to production servers multiple times per day.

How fast are you?

2 thoughts on “Software update cycle: faster every day

  1. Hi Will,
    Nice blog. Good to see another Aussie sharing their knowledge. I am responsible for migrating data between software updates of our CMS. There was such a gap between updates that it has caused strange compatibility issues. So, I’d like to establish a software maintenance cycle that would allow me to be aware of incremental upgrades and act on these before I encounter this situation again.

    To answer your question, we don’t upgrade enough and need a plan to ensure we are more proactive about it in the future.

  2. Reinaldo, saw your comment and wanted to mention a SaaS solution we provide to help with to help with the challenge — our AppRx platform provides ongoing monitoring of applications to identify how out of date an application is falling, when support is ending, when new versions are released, etc. More info at or happy to chat further.

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