1197: All Adobe Updates

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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All Adobe Updates
ALERT: Some pending mandatory software updates require version 21.1.2 of the Oracle/Sun Java(tm) JDK(tm) Update Manager Runtime Environment Meta-Updater, which is not available for your platform.
Title text: ALERT: Some pending mandatory software updates require version 21.1.2 of the Oracle/Sun Java(tm) JDK(tm) Update Manager Runtime Environment Meta-Updater, which is not available for your platform.


This comic was probably a reaction to the installation service Ninite removing Adobe Flash Player from their free version the previous day.

The comic makes fun of Adobe Systems software that delivers new versions of Adobe products to users' computers, such as Adobe Updater (which replaced Adobe Update Manager) and Adobe Download Manager (which replaced Akamai). These software increments might either be technical (to fix compatibility or security issues), or they might add new features that would go unnoticed. In addition, these updates are downloaded automatically by default, but the operating system might install them only if a user allows it to. The frequency of software changes (and changes in the way Adobe allows users to download new software) could result in confused users. In this case, the comic is saying that you must update the program before it can actually check for updates, something it already seems to be doing.

There is an actual message that a specific version of these updaters display:

The Adobe Updater must update itself before it can check for
updates. Would you like to update the Adobe Updater now?

In fact, the general necessity of such update managers has often been questioned, as they require the user to "download software in order to download other software". Other notable examples of companies who use update managers include Google and Sun/Oracle, with the latter being also mentioned in the title text.

The two buttons 'OK' and 'Download' are implied to have the same effect, indicating the user has no real choice. Or, alternatively, 'OK' may simply just close the dialog without taking any action, as that is common in informational popups in many pieces of software. In that case, the placement of the 'OK' button implies that it is the default action, meaning most users will just ignore the update. Given the extreme frequency and perceived lack of changes (to your average end user), this anecdotally seems to be what most people do. Statistics for the high rate of un-patched systems in the wild support the anecdotal evidence.

The language of the message also plays with repeated up and down, as in "there is an update for the Adobe download manager..." to give the whole process a feel of preposterousness verging on Carrollian literary nonsense.

The title text also suggests that using update helper software which in turn must be updated bears the risk of creating a dependency hell. The "version 21.1.2 of the Oracle..." may refer to the Rush suite 2112, where moment V is titled Oracle and contains the lyrics "I stand atop a spiral stair, An oracle confronts me there."


[Cueball is sitting at a laptop with a window with a red title bar floating over his head.]
Adobe Update
There is an update for:
  • Adobe Download Manager
This update will allow you to download the new updates to the Adobe Update Downloader.
[OK] [Download]

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Is there the additional joke of choosing "Ok (to download)" or "Download (it's ok!)"? And all the strip it lacks (for space, opportunity or brevity) is an all-but-forced toolbar download. Unless that's counted as part of the Java download. (Ask? Really?) 13:00, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

In my eyes the joke goes a bit further: The window ask the user to install an update for the update-manager so it can download new updates for the update-downloader – so software A would like to update software B that might update the real software in/at the end. --DaB. (talk) 13:12, 10 April 2013 (UTC)
Or you can just click on the close button.

I am surprised noone commented on the connection to the Rush Song 2112 and it's Oracle. 01:19, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Title text: It's because you're still running Windows 2000 or XP. (Windows NT 5.x) You need at least Windows Vista (6.0) to apply the update... 02:13, 29 March 2014 (UTC)