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Adobe bloated software, and how to disable automatic updates

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Personally, I hate the trend of software adding bloat in subsequent versions as much as I hate people saying an application is bloated just because it’s no longer a simple one-dimensional kind of program. That said, Adobe current crop of products have to be some of the worst in this sense.

At this point I’m sure nobody doubts the deserved dominance of Photoshop in the world of digital photo editing, just like Microsoft Word or Excel are your overall best bets for documents and spreadsheets despite of its cost. But when the very creators of the PDF format ship its latest reader which takes twice the amount of time for opening files than third-party software like Foxit Reader (on a high-end PC, for slower machines it can be as much as a 10x difference!) you know something is very wrong then.

But that is just one of the many examples I can give you. The Adobe installer is just damn horrible. For a moment I thought this would be limited to the Windows version of the CS3 Suite, but when I downloaded trial versions of Fireworks and Dreamweaver for the Mac, it was quite the unwelcomed surprise to see that the bloated and painfully slow installer is also used under OS X. I have to admit that adding a bunch of ‘required’ middleware like the “Extension Manager” is not something I enjoy, but I find much worse the inclusion of the stealth Adobe Updater. You may be surprised the first time this updater pops up because it doesn’t leave any traces in the Windows registry and is not listed as a startup program. So, unless you are running a full fledged firewall (which you should but there aren’t many good ones for Vista yet), the program could run and download updates without your consent. In fact it’s quite likely you won’t notice this running unless it’s taking away your bandwidth, or CPU time (bloat, remember?) or an interruption in your Internet connection happens, which will make it complain and thus become evident it was running behind your back.

Furthermore, Adobe doesn’t give you an easy way to turn this feature off beforehand, but rather you can configure it while it’s running – there’s no access through the Adobe programs’ options menus – or you will have to manually edit a configuration file (AdobeUpdaterPreferences.dat) as detailed here. Adobe, you still make really good software, but I may have to look elsewhere in the future if you make this an on-going trend.

Written by Julio Franco

December 20th, 2007 at 1:00 am