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June 12, 2007

Adobe Update: a study in understanding usage patterns

I just fired up Acrobat Reader -- I beg your pardon, Adobe Reader -- and it decided it was time to install some updates.  When I said that was okay, it told me it was going to have to shut down Acrobat in order to do so.

As a techie, I understand why Acrobat feels this way, but as a user, I feel Acrobat has completely misjudged the moment.

I bring up Acrobat when, and only when, I want to read a document.  Usually, as soon as Acrobat has launched, I start reading.  Given that it takes Acrobat a little while to download the updates, by the time the restart-or-cancel prompt appears, the chances are better than 95% that I am right now in the middle of reading that document.  If I have a choice between continuing to read or shutting down the application and having to find my way back again later, I'll stick with continuing to read, thanks.

A better approach would be for Acrobat to install the updates as it shuts down, or the next time it starts.  In the former case, I have clearly finished reading, and it can beaver away in the background without bothering me.  In the latter case, although I clearly want to read something right now, I'm only going to be a bit delayed getting started, rather than losing my context to a shutdown-restart cycle.  The only wrong time for Acrobat to require a restart is when I am in the middle of a document; and yet this is exactly the time it chooses by default.

June 12, 2007 in Usability | Permalink


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There are several circles of hell devoted to hosting former Adobe programmers.

Slow startup, massive size, intrusive updates, unreliability - and if you get the full Adobe Writer package then you can expect to hand your entire computer over to them as it feels the need to install helpful plugins across your entire computer.


Posted by: S. at Jul 1, 2007 7:29:50 PM