A lot of software, such as Notepad++, pgAdmin 4 and Bisq, which are all open source and free of charge, with no attempts to install malware/spying in the installer, make it needlessly annoying to update them.

Instead of just seeing a message such as:

There is a new version available: 1.2.3. You are currently running 1.2.2. Update now? [Yes] [No]

And then just update itself when pressing "Yes"...

They instead nag you about an update being available, but when you accept, it either downloads a new installer or even just loads a webpage where you have to manually download the installer. Either way, once you run this new installer, it treats you as a "first-time customer", as if it were the initial installation, making you look at a GUI and manually click "next" multiple times for seemingly no reason.

Why would it not, since it already is installed on the computer, detect this (or launch itself with a flag such as "/update") and just update instead of showing the pointless GUI installer stuff which I already went through when originally installing the software?

For software developed by scummy companies, the reason is obvious: they get another chance at tricking you into forgetting to disable their toolbars/spyware/malware by having the checkbox pre-checked again. However, I'm again talking about these FOSS programs which don't use such tactics.

There is no logical or technical reason for this that I can possibly think of. It's as if they "punish" the user by making us do pointless busywork to waste our time and energy. Having been put through this for 20+ years, I'm absolutely exhausted from manually dealing with update after update after update, and I cannot believe that they haven't automated this very obvious and simple thing after so long, instead putting their users through it again and again.

This practice heavily discourages updating, and I've many times stuck to old versions for a very long time just because I can't deal with clicking through another pointless installer.

And no, I don't want to use and trust some third-party "Chocolatey" software. I'm asking why the actual developers of software do this.

And no, this doesn't take any more work in any way for the developers. Again, I'm talking about how the installer shows itself and makes me go through pointless steps for no reason since the software is already installed, and all the installer ends up doing is just copying over the new files to my existing installation dir. There is zero reason for it to do this, because the software is already installed and it clearly knows what to do already since I can just click "next" multiple times and then it updates.

The problem is that the installer shows that nonsense at all, since it's an update and not a "fresh installation".

Why do they insist on doing this?


2 Answers 2


The reason is simple: seameless updates are out of priority.

Say I'm a developer who contribute to opensource project. I have some spare time and here is decicion moment "what can I do in my spare time?" On one hand there are unsolved bugs and problems users are facing every day on the other improving something that is already works.

As common sense suggests, I better fix some problems to increase value. But im not forced to fix bugs, I can refactor update process too if there is something interesting for me in this task.

So the answer is If updates are not that good as you expect there is no developer who would be motivated enough to improve them or there are other important thing to do.

counterquestion, why dont you spend your weekend on refactoring Notepad++ update procedure? so are their devs too :)


I can think of several reasons (but nevertheless, it would make sense to have an option 'Use current installation settings' in the first screen of the installer wizard):

  • A user might want to install the update in another location. This makes sense if the program is critical for their workflow and they want to make sure they have a fallback option in case the new version contains bugs.
  • It's another way to remind the user of a the existence of a few (optional) features they might want to try out, now that they have more experience with the program.
  • Some of those optional features might not even exist in the previous version.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.