An upgrade is a new version of an existing application and may include new features, an overhauled user interface, and patches to fix software glitches and security loopholes.
Software updates are a necessary feature of any piece of modern software. Updates are written to accomplish a variety of purposes:
- To add new features and functionality.
- To overhaul the look and feel of the application's user interface.
- To fix bugs and usability issues present in an earlier version of the software.
- To close security loopholes.
Software upgrades are sometimes referred to as patches. The definitions for patches and upgrades vary depending on the source. Generally speaking, patches are small updates designed to fix a specific issue, such as a security loophole. Upgrades, on the other hand, tend to be larger updates that fix multiple issues, and may include new features and interface updates.
Most software updates are delivered over the Internet and installed automatically requiring very little input from the software user. In the case of free applications, upgrades are also delivered free of charge. However, software that requires a paid license may require users to pay for upgrades depending on the terms of the license.
While upgrades are unavoidable, and even desirable in the case where new features and functionality are implemented, rolling out an upgrade is not without risk. There is always the risk that users will not value the new features, and may even find the changes to be an irritation and sufficient motivation to seek out an alternative. Also, upgrades can introduce new bugs and security issues that weren't identified during development, exposing users to additional risks, and potentially leading to an exodus of users who seek out alternatives. In extreme cases, badly executed upgrades can produce software glitches that create financial repercussions that reach well into 8 and 9-figure territory.
Frequently Asked Questions
If I don't want to install a software upgrade, do I have to?
Every piece of software is upgraded in a different way and according to a different schedule. Many applications ask your permission before installing an upgrade, but others, notably leading browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, upgrade automatically without the user's knowledge. If an application installed on your computer advises you that an upgrade is available, it is generally recommended that you install the upgrade as soon as it is released by the developer. Quite often upgrades include critical security patches to address vulnerabilities that are being actively exploited by malware authors. By installing the latest upgrades, your computer will be better protected against malware attacks.
What is hot patching?
Most software upgrades require that the software being upgraded, and possibly the entire system that the software is running on, be shut down and restarted following the installation of an upgrade. Upgrading an application without requiring the application or the computer to be shut down and restarted is called hot patching, live patching, or dynamic software updating.