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I hate upgrading. I know that sounds odd, especially from a techno-junkie. I mean, I love to have the latest and greatest gizmo and gadget, but the upgrading part I could do without. It never goes well, and it always feels like you have to take one step backwards to get your two steps forward. Sometimes those numbers are reversed. With all the sophisticated features and functionality built into the next release, you'd think that someone would come up with a system that simply moves my world forward. Instead, it beckons me onward to the new world...but only if I'm willing to leave my entire old world behind.

Look at the PC upgrade process. I get my machine setup exactly as I want it. My favourites are all configured. My desktop is cluttered (but in that semi-structured way that only I can decode). My applications are all installed. My preferences, and network choices, and peripherals are all operational, exactly as I want them. Then I world is empty again. I have to start from scratch. I have to re-install my apps, re-configure peripherals, and re-clutter my desktop. Why?

It's also a very scary process. Last night I took one of the most user-friendly tech gadgets in recent memory, my iPad, and moved it forward to the next operating system level (iOS 5). I didn't really want to do it. I didn't really need to do it. But some of my apps required it. I held my breath most of the time during the install. My stress level increased. It wasn't pleasant. The downside potential was very real. Several of my friends had turned their lovely tablets and smart phones into high-tech bricks during this process, requiring them to start entirely from scratch. Luckily, my experience was more stable, although no more pleasing. Unfortunately, the corresponding iTunes is now messing with my iPod Touch. ARRGG!

In this industry we have some responsibilities. One is to keep pushing the envelope, and moving technology forward. The other is less well understand and followed....we MUST respect the past and bring it forward into the future. I realize it's a tradeoff. We don't want to be held back by old baggage. But that old baggage contains all my old stuff in it. And I like my stuff.

Think about the process of upgrading when you build your next great product. And try and keep the two steps forward plan without the one step back.


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Reader Comments (1)

Hear hear Don! Upgrade is so often left as an exercise to the innocent. I truly believe that some of the greatest products failed because the creators forgot to bring along their install base.

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

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