Adobe Installation and Licensing

Blog to post all Installer and Licensing related info to users of Adobe products

Jul 14, 2009

Updater Approach

Hello all. Its been a while and we’ve been busily working on various features for deployment and provisioning. One area that has seen a fair bit of attention lately is the workflow for updating Creative Suite products. Ravi Prakash Singh is the lead development engineer on the new updater team. Below he talks about some of the design goals and solutions used for the next version of the updater workflow. – Eric
Adobe’s updater technology through CS4 is known as the Adobe Update Manager (AUM.) AUM has a long history of various problems. Our user community has been vocal about the number and types of problems experienced through AUM. In the next instance of the Creative Suite, we intend to provide a different update experience that should address a number of the most egregious problems discussed thus far. In particular:
* Failure of an update to successfully apply to a user’s system
* Failure to adequately roll back a partial or failed update, thus leaving the user’s system in an unusable state
* The update process interferes with users trying to get their own work done
When we started out the design for the new Adobe Updater we set a few simple goals:
* Make the Adobe Updater install the updates successfully and if the updater fails, ensure whatever was installed as part of updater is rolled back and the machine is back to its orginal state.
* Make the Adobe Updater non-intrusive. The Adobe Updater should not interfere with the user’s tasks by poping dialogs in middle of your extremely critical workflows. It will not be an in your face application.
* Make sure the Adobe Updater when running does not hog your CPU cycles.
* Using the Adobe Updater should be a pleasant experience.
* Checking for updates is silent and the notification for available updates is clean and unobtrusive.
* Provide ways for system administrators to turn-off updates completly. Secondarily, we also want to enable easier management of updates by system administrators.
In order to achieve the desired reliability, sensitivity to system CPU cycles and roll back ability, the updates themselves will use the exact same deployment engine as the original installer. In past versions, the updater was managed by one team while the patches and installation were managed by another team. We’ve brought these teams together into a single organization for better cooperation between them. The technology that lays the bits down on the users’ systems at install time will now be the same technology that updates the products post-install. This solution simplifies the implementation and makes it more robust by having consistent use of installed component databases and deployment strategy.
In order to ensure the updater is non-intrusive, we intend to have the client machine know about each update within 24 hours of that update being advertised by Adobe servers; however, users are notified either when they quit their app (not at app launch or in the middle of application use) or by an unobtrusive notification elsewhere on the system (e.g. a badge on the right side of the menu bar on a Mac.) There are two main parts to this approach:
1) Let the client machine know about updates as soon as it is hosted and made available by Adobe. To achieve this goal the updater will not be linked to Adobe product launch. Instead it will run as a scheduled activity independent of any product. During installation of an Adobe product, the Adobe Updater will be added as a task to the Task scheduler on Windows and as a Launch Demon on Macintosh. This step will help the updater perform a scheduled check for updates in silent mode. Such silent checks should occur at 2:00 am.
Minimal resources are used to check for updates. If you are not online at 2:00 am no connection will be initiated. The updater will wait until the following day at 2am to check again.
2) Once the update is discovered and downloaded, notification for the update is non-intrusive. In particular, there is no popup dialog that tells you an update is available and requires your attention. The notification itself will depend on the platform; but, will be somewhat similar to other status notifications on that platform. For example, on Mac the notification will likely be a badge on the right side of the menu bar indicating the status of an update. This is much like the status of other Mac services such as Time Machine or instant messaging clients.
If the user takes action on the notification then a dialog will appear that lists what applications have updates available and provide easy access to user preferences. As in CS4, all updates are cumulative. This means you should not see one update after another in serial for any given product.
There are a few more items to touch upon here:
Updates UI – When launching the updater, it will be possible to explore each product with an update to see which updates are pending, a description of the update and what other products are affected by those updates.
Notification UI – When you express interest in an update notification, a dialog will display showing which Creative Suite products have pending updates. It will be possible to explore each product with an update to see which updates are pending, a description of the update and what other products are affected by those updates. It is also possible to access user preferences from this dialog.
Preferences – To let users control Updater behavior, there will be preferences options for
a) Turn on / off menu notification
b) Disable/enable Auto updates for CSXS Services.
c) Auto download/install updates.
Enterprise Support – Support for volume deployments include the ability to turn off the entire update system at install time as well as the above mentioned user preferences. In addition, we have tentative plans for post-ship delivery of instructions on how to host Adobe’s patches directly on your own servers. This enables end users to use our Adobe Updater but recognize, download and apply patches directly from volume customers’ own servers.
Scheduled Check for Updates – Update checks would run as a scheduled activity; on Windows as a task (in the Task scheduler) and on Mac as a Launch Agent (via plist in ~/Library/LaunchAgents). This check would be performed on daily basis at 2:00 am. If the system is asleep at 2:00 am, then the next check for an update would occur when the system awakens. If system was shutdown at 2:00 am then update check would be performed at restart/user logon (via Run key on Windows and plist in /Library/LaunchAgents on Mac). If still there is a missed update check in past 24 hours, product launch would ensure that an update check is scheduled to occur after 2 hours.
Non-Admin Users – User’s without an admin account can now install the update from normal user account with the typical admin password prompt. This will be possible for all platforms except Win Vista where UAC has been disabled.
Hope the insight in to the new Adobe Updater is useful and provides some information on what we are planning for the next revision. Your comments and feedback are most welcome and we look forward to an healthy discussion and do any course correction if needed.
Updated: Based on the comments below, there have been three updates above. Two sections were added to clarify behavior (Scheduled Check for Updates and Non-Admin Users.) Further detail has been added to the preferences section as well. —Eric



  • By Karl Kuehn - 4:38 PM on July 14, 2009   Reply

    I am really glad that you are thinking about Enterprise deployments in this, that is a refreshing change. But I really dislike that you have seemingly ignored one of the biggest messages from Enterprise (at least on the Mac): the strong desire to go to native installers. We are not kidding about this, it is a big, big desire. It is just barely short of a requirement.
    If Apple can do their entire OS, and all updates to their software in .pkg, it wil work for you to. I have not comment on Windows, as I don’t understand that environement well enough to comment.
    And I like that you are trying to keep things unobtrusive, but have three comments on that:
    1) Tying things to shutdown is not really going to work. People simply don’t shut down their comptuers in a lot of places. They walk away and start back up where they left off the next day. So you are going to have to do something to notify self-installing end-users.
    2) Conversely many computers get shut off every day, so checking at 2am only is going to have those computers never update. And adding yet another background task that runs all the time is just not a great idea. There are too many already, we don’t need Adobe taking over more of the computer. Much better would be to make the check while the program is running (when the user has the computer on, and probably has a network connection), but only make it a small check (a checksum). Then wait for the computer to go idle for a given amount of time, and as long as the computer is idle (as in no input device useage) do your downloading in a seperate process.
    3) This brings me to the third part: when the downloading background process has finished grabbing all of the needed updates for all of the Adobe products (leaving out Acrobat would be a bad idea), then it would wait untill an Adobe product was next launched, and through that product display a notification (even an unobtrusive one) that updates for Adobe products were avalible. This then gives the user the option of running them then, or later.
    Putting in system-wide notifications just adds more clutter to already over-used notification spaces.
    Oh… and as a coda: We don’t need self-healing products. It is simple enough if the product will fix fixable problems with a re-install. You don’t need to double or tripple your footprint on my computer, and fight the system-admin in the process.

  • By Ölbaum - 4:46 PM on July 14, 2009   Reply

    You forgot to mention that an updater should NOT force the user to quit their web browser, EVER!

  • By Michael Kazlow - 6:05 PM on July 14, 2009   Reply

    Integration of the updater team with the installation team combines the two teams with the worst reputations. These two items and activation cause more complaints on the Adobe User to User forum then anything else.
    Things to keep in mind, updating and installation should not require a restart if at all possible.
    A mechanism to allow installtion of updates for non-administrative users should be developed. Of course this may need to have permissions and/or passwords set by an administrator. Not all enterprises are anal about the roll out of udpates.
    As to installation, a mechanism to allow installation without activation or license after a number of years should be developed.
    Users cannot get help on re-installation after the product is no longer supported. Users don’t want to pay nearly $100 for serial number issues for older versions. Support for serial numbers and activation for at least 3 or 4 versions back should be free. When activation and serial number support is removed the mechanism for requiring activation should be removed. This may not be done retroactively, but could be part of new product installation and licensing.
    The licensing manager needs to be more robust. Now it causes problems even after the program and/or suite has worked well for months or years.
    When a serial number is refused the license manager should tell the user why if at all possible. It should be able to tell, for example, a user that they have a license for an upgrade from Creative Suite to the Creative Suite, but that their previous license was only a license for Photoshop. They should if at all possible be directed to an easy resolution to their problem.

  • By David Buxton - 6:08 PM on July 14, 2009   Reply

    From the point of view of Mac system administrators, it is ultimately most useful if the installer and updater packages are served in Apple’s installer pkg format. Do you anticipate using pkg installers for the payloads on a Mac?

  • By Gil Burns - 7:16 PM on July 14, 2009   Reply

    For enterprise deployments, how about an easy way to include updates at deployment time. You should take a look at how Microsoft Office can include updates and will automatically include them if they are in the correct location. Adobe needs to do this too.

  • By Gil Burns - 7:19 PM on July 14, 2009   Reply

    Another Enterprise support option for updating should include a command line tool to do all patching for any installed Adobe app.
    While you are at it, Acrobat updates need to be standardized. Why are they so different than all other Adobe product updates?

  • By Thomas - 9:50 AM on July 15, 2009   Reply

    Dear Adobe,
    would you may be able to overtake Apple in somewhat future or at least give them some lessons in quality management and customer care?
    pretty please!

  • By Paul - 1:34 PM on July 15, 2009   Reply

    Yes, but will the installer / updater not take an hour to install / apply updates?

  • By keith - 2:03 PM on July 15, 2009   Reply

    Good idea: to make updating a pleasant experience.
    And when I get the updater message & info its confusing — new updates (listed on left) appear to be same as what I’d installed previously (listed on right side).

  • By Dan Rodney - 5:55 AM on July 16, 2009   Reply

    My menubar is very valuable space. I like it to contain just a few very useful ones. Honestly, I don’t really want an Adobe update notifier in my menubar. That’s not what I can non-intrusive. It’s actually kind of intrusive because it’s making me look at it everyday. I actually prefer a pop-up window to a menbar icon (although maybe there is a better way). Also, if that’s also the only notice you give people, I am sure many non-tech savy users won’t notice and therefore ignore those updates.
    On another topic, none of my home computers are on at 2am. How are they dealt with? How are they notified of updates?

  • By Klaus Nordby - 6:38 AM on July 16, 2009   Reply

    Sounds promising! But PLEASE make sure the downloaded updater files can be PLACED on my hard drive where I want them, and that I can at any time later copy or move them, in order to not waste my bandwidth repeatedly for each CS installation I manage. I want to download the bits only ONCE, then deploy the updater files as I choose on my other CS systems. Now, this does NOT work: the download files all magically disappear from their downloaded folder location — so I am unable to reuse them for updating other CS systems. Most annoying! Downloading bandwidth is not in infinite supply. Please respect that fact of life, too.

  • By Mike - 5:20 AM on July 18, 2009   Reply

    Hi Ravi/Eric (?)
    Thanks for such an honest and clear article – this (ahem) new approach by Adobe should help elminate much of the previous FUD
    One point – slightly concerned about tying into Windows Task Scheduler, as this has always seemed a bit flakey and clunky.
    Most important – for ages the Update had problems with simple firewalls (e.g. ISA Server) and when it could not make a connection to Planet Adobe, would simply say ‘no updates needed’ or similar – please continue the improvements on this!

  • By Gordon - 1:53 PM on July 19, 2009   Reply

    Suggestion: Don’t make me quit my browser so that an update can be installed.

  • By fr - 2:03 PM on July 19, 2009   Reply

    Hello. Will the 2AM update time be something we can manually setup ?
    “If you are not online at 2:00 am no connection will be initiated. The updater will wait until the following day at 2am to check again.”
    What if my machine is never up at 2 am ?

  • By Ramón G Castañeda - 2:03 PM on July 19, 2009   Reply

    A highly commendable effort and I wish you the best.
    However, whatever you do, please retain the ability for the user to bypass the AUM and update things manually.
    Thank you.

  • By Scott Graham - 4:38 PM on July 19, 2009   Reply

    I presume that the 2AM will also be an adjustable preference? with maybe also a manual option? Not sure that I see a problem with it checking the next time that the machine is turned on after a 2AM failure as long as it meets your unobtrusive goals.
    In any case, way to go. The updater used to drive me crazy. Sometimes it would seem to go berserk.

  • By Rhys - 7:02 PM on July 19, 2009   Reply

    Hi Adobe Devs, I am a system admin in publishing and I would truly benefit from a command line capable AUM or one that is plug-able into Apple”Remote Desktop’ Administration software. CLI would rock.

  • By Gene McCullagh - 7:08 PM on July 19, 2009   Reply

    This is good news! Thanks! One request – don’t force a Mac user to be logged in as an administrator for updates to happen. You should be able to supply an administrator ID and password while logged in as a regular user.

  • By Andrew Meit - 7:47 PM on July 19, 2009   Reply

    Thank you, thanks for respecting my OS and my HD.
    An installer is like having a service person in your home setting up cable TV or some device one has bought so that person has to respect your home: not to damage your belongings nor make you wait longer than needed and not dirty your floor; and they do, they make the effort to clean up the mess and even pay for repairs. And if you hate the cable guy imagine how I feel about Adobe installers/updaters. Keep up the hard work to earn my respect trusting your installers/updaters. And thanks for the blog!
    A challenge: Have Adobe pr make a point show casing the installer improvements in CS5. I bet thats just as good as any fancy new feature.

  • By Mark Alexander - 8:04 PM on July 19, 2009   Reply

    Please make the time of execution for daily check be user or admin configurable. a general 2am everyday hard coded time will not work for many users.

  • By Raphael - 11:53 PM on July 19, 2009   Reply

    Good ideas overall, but I have an issue with the 2AM for update availability: what if, as it is the most frequent with my computers, it is always off at 2AM. Why not implement a check at boot/restart/wake up time if the computer was not on at 2AM before the shut down of the computer, instead of trying to check at 2AM the next day (when the computer will likely be off)? thanks

  • By Gaspy - 12:31 AM on July 20, 2009   Reply

    This is great news, with one note:
    You say “the updater will not be linked to Adobe product launch. Instead it will run as a scheduled activity independent of any product” — I actually prefer the way it currently is. I hate it when various updaters think it would be a wonderful time to check for updates. Windows Update I can understand, my antivirus too, but Apple, Java, Google and others are annoying. At least, have a setting like “Check for updates
    () Every day
    () Every week
    () Upon CS5 application launch
    () Never
    Whatever you do, don’t make the updater a service that’s almost impossible to deactivate/remove la Google does, because ultimately *I* want to be in control.

  • By Mike - 6:33 AM on July 20, 2009   Reply

    Would you consider a single updater for all installed Adobe products? Those of us using a mixture of CS2 , CS3, and CS4 products have to deal with two different Updaters. Would be nice if one updater covered all version from CS2 up to the present.

  • By Arnon - 9:23 AM on July 20, 2009   Reply

    I use Lightroom and Photoshop. One of the most annoying things is that Lightroom updates don’t automatically update the ACR plugin on the photoshop side. Moreover, I use Lightroom 64 bit and photoshop 32bit (because most plugins won’t work in 64bit, especially older ones). The ACR update should automatically, transparently, and reliably update on all installations of Lightroom and photoshop simultaneously.

  • By Matt - 12:40 PM on July 20, 2009   Reply

    There are still a great number of people who shut their machines down or put them to sleep each night, so they may never be awake and functional at 2 AM. You’ll need to be able to check when a machine starts up or wakes up if it missed the previous notification, or else some users will *never* see updates that are only polled at 2 AM.

  • By Warren Young - 2:06 PM on July 20, 2009   Reply

    This is mostly fine, except for two things:
    1. It seems to require that computers stay on all night, so they can do their checking at 2am. It was only a week or so ago that there was an Adobe blog post about how great Adobe is for having an environmentally friendly building. You’d wipe that out by forcing millions of other companies’ PCs to stay on all the time?
    2. The option for companies to host their own update servers is a step forward, but it seems to be missing some desirable features:
    2a. It doesn’t help regular end users. I would like to store my CS5 disk images on my hard disk along with the current set of patches, as I do with other programs, to ease reinstallation. It seems that unless I’m willing to install and administer a patch server — if such is even available without a volume license — I have to fall back to the old manual way of updating, by browsing the Downloads area of It would be much better if I could configure AUM to keep downloaded patches in a particular directory. Then I automatically keep my patches, and on reinstallation, when I change the default AUM download directory, AUM could realize that I already have the current patches downloaded and simply apply them.
    2b. Many sites already have existing patch management systems. Such systems take MSIs as input on Windows, and PKGs on OS X, as there are associated mechanisms for automatically installing such packages. I know the Adobe team has heard this request, but they are simply replacing one silo with another.

  • By Rob McAninch - 4:34 PM on July 20, 2009   Reply

    In CS3 (didn’t get CS4) the updater has to be run as an administrator on a Mac OS X. My normal account is not an administrator (for security reasons). Can you have this new system allow me to install the update from my normal user account with the typical admin password prompt.

  • By Steve - 4:51 PM on July 20, 2009   Reply

    As someone who STILL can’t update his licensed version of CS3 Illustrator beyond the original CD version [but is asked repeatedly]– and doesn’t have the time to deal with uninstalling and reinstalling or whatever rigmarole they need to me do — I’m pleased that someone at Adobe is paying attention to this for CS5…

  • By John Major - 7:52 PM on July 20, 2009   Reply

    Why do I have to wait? I have an updater that won’t see any new updates and I have to monitor all your updates on the downloads page. It would be nice if you got these issues fixed now.

  • By Robert Hammen - 8:41 PM on July 20, 2009   Reply

    Here’s another consideration: honor the system-wide proxy server settings – don’t create a new UI/location to have to specify these, and work if a proxy is required (I have as a customer a Fortune 75 company where its employees are unable to update CS4 apps on their MacBook Pro’s until they take them home/use them on a non-corporate Internet connection)…

  • By Matt - 4:35 PM on July 21, 2009   Reply

    It sounds like your team gets it. That’s excellent. Some specific suggestions:
    Simply checking for updates should consume minimal resources. There’s no reason it needs to wait until 2 AM. Many computers aren’t running at 2 AM anyway, so if you limit it to a specific time the check will never occur. (Oh, and did you check with your website support team about having every copy of Creative Suite in a particular time zone try to contact your servers at the same time?)
    I think a lot of users will miss or ignore a badge icon in the corner of their screen. Like Apple’s Software Update, I think it’s fair to have something pop up and offer to install. It should be a separate application that does not interfere with the use of the actual Creative Suite apps. Perhaps this could be a switchable behavior.
    Again like Apple’s Software Update, have an option whether or not to actually download the updates automatically.

  • By Eric Wilde - 11:59 AM on July 24, 2009   Reply

    Updated: Based on the comments below, there have been three updates above. Two sections were added to clarify behavior (Scheduled Check for Updates and Non-Admin Users.) Further detail has been added to the preferences section as well.

  • By Chris Hohman - 2:24 PM on July 24, 2009   Reply

    In response to Karl Kuehn “If Apple can do their entire OS, and all updates to their software in .pkg, it will work for you to. I have not comment on Windows, as I don’t understand that environment well enough to comment.”
    Karl, we will be providing our volume licensing folks the ability to repackage the updates as native PKGs.
    Chris Hohman
    CSBU Product Manager

  • By David Buxton - 2:24 AM on July 25, 2009   Reply

    It would be really good if you would use pkg format for Macintosh installation and updating.
    The Mac is sufficiently different that a cross-platform installer process can be ignored as a goal, and the pkg format is rich enough to satisfy all your deployment requirements, so why not make your job and us administrators’ jobs simpler by providing pkgs in the first place?
    There is a place for a good updater application to control when and how to present the updates to the user, but the initial installation payload and all subsequent updates should be Apple-format packages.
    Please. Please? Please!

  • By Gil Burns - 3:30 AM on July 25, 2009   Reply

    You are treating you paying customers like criminals by insisting on using the lame Adobe CS install system to try and obfuscate how and where your software is installed. You need to give up on your install system that barely works and move to MSI and PKG formatted installs. This should be a requirement for the next version.

  • By Ravi Prakash Singh - 3:31 AM on July 25, 2009   Reply

    Here are answers/explanation to some of the concerns raised around 2:00 AM scheduled check and honoring System-wide proxy server settings
    1) Default schedule check at 2:AM is there because of following reasons
    a) This will work well for machines which are up and running at 2:00 AM.
    b) This will also work for machine which are either sleeping or switched off at 2:00 AM via the fall back mechanisms we are providing. Newly added section at the end (Scheduled Check for Updates) has more details for missed checks at 2:00 AM
    c) As we do not expect all the systems to be up and running at 2:00 AM so not all machines in a particular time zone will hit the server at the same time. Only those machines which are up and running at 2:00 AM will hit the server while rest will hit when they wakeup or restart.
    2) System-wide proxy server settings – This was a Mac specific problem, which we have fixed in the new Updater.

  • By WS - 10:00 PM on July 26, 2009   Reply

    I’m glad to see movement in this department. On Mac OS X, the dock icon bounced, loads another icon, and is the epitome of obtrusive. Mozilla Firefox has done a fabulous job on their respective update system. Perhaps working from that framework (and improving upon it) would be terrific.
    Regardless of what you do, making things better shouldn’t be that hard considering just how bad it is (at least on Mac OS X).

  • By Eric Wilde - 10:26 PM on July 26, 2009   Reply

    wrt Mac PKG installers, our intent is to provide a tool to volume customers to customize the installer and output either PKG or MSI installers. Since the patches used for updating products will use the same install technology, those same tools can output a PKG version of the patches.

  • By David Buxton - 2:31 AM on July 27, 2009   Reply

    Hi Eric,
    Regarding converting Adobe installers to pkg format, if the installers can be re-packaged without losing anything in the process, why not just go for pkg format in the first place?
    Hoping it isn’t too late to persuade your team to adopt the pkg approach,

  • By Eric Wilde - 8:44 PM on July 27, 2009   Reply

    Moving to PKG installers for our retail workflows is something we really cannot bite off right now. There are simply too many other, higher priority problems to address. It is something we will continue to look at in the future. We do still intend to provide tools for volume customers to customize the installer and convert to MSI/PKG.
    As for closing your browser, that should generally not be necessary for patching products. In general we should only require shut down of the applications directly blocking the installation of a given patch. In addition, in many cases we can delay the deployment of those files blocked by a running process until system reboot (thus, the patch wouldn’t fully apply until system reboot.) There may be a rare case where a browser would block installation of a patch (for example, there is a particular version of Firefox which locks a system color resource that may need to be updated); but, that should be the exception. Even in such a scenario we can delay the application of the patch until system reboot.
    Hope this helps.

  • By Eric @ MCA - 10:14 AM on July 28, 2009   Reply

    This is incredibly good news and I wish you best of luck. Harbs just pointed this out to me after IDSecrets posted up my hack to get around the Safari 4 blank dialog problem.
    Please feel free to include me in the Installer testing process again!

  • By Johny - 11:59 AM on July 29, 2009   Reply

    Can you make it so that the updater will update all updates for a product at once, instead of having to rerun the updater for ever .1 revision? Just had to run updater several times to get the 8.1.1 update, then the 8.1.2 update, 8.1.3 update, 8.1.4 update…

  • By Eric Wilde - 12:44 PM on July 29, 2009   Reply

    With CS4 and going forward, all Suite products (except Acrobat) only have cumulative patches. This means only one patch for all updates to that point. Acrobat is a special case due to the fact that they have a large business outside the Creative Suite and so do not use our installation/update technology in the same way.

  • By David Buxton - 6:28 AM on July 30, 2009   Reply

    Such a pity you guys don’t have the time to go for pkg installers yet.
    Given that, would you make sure that the enterprise deployment tools and documentation are made freely available to everyone please? It was a horrible shock when Adobe announced they would charge for the CS4 deployment tools (I know they eventually changed their mind, but ffs as if it wasn’t difficult enough already).

  • By Dan - 10:35 AM on July 30, 2009   Reply

    I just want to delete the damn thing. Seriously is a PITA. How do I remove the updater?

  • By Eric Wilde - 11:42 AM on July 30, 2009   Reply

    I just want to delete the damn thing. Seriously is a PITA. How do I remove the updater?
    I assume you mean the CS4 Adobe Update Manager? That’s the component we’re ditching for what we hope is a more robust solution in the next release of our products. You can turn it off through preference settings. For example, for Photoshop CS4:
    Select Help->Updates…
    After the manual check is complete there is a link to preferences. Click that link.
    At the top of the preferences dialog is a checkbox that will turn off all automatic update checks.
    Hope this helps.

  • By Chris Hohman - 8:01 PM on August 3, 2009   Reply

    “Such a pity you guys don’t have the time to go for pkg installers yet.”
    The updater for future Creative Suite products will support PKG installations.
    Best regards,

  • By David Buxton - 8:13 AM on August 4, 2009   Reply

    Hi Chris, glad to hear things are moving over to pkg installers. Make sure to arrange an intervention whenever your colleagues propose a custom installer!
    Thanks for blogging,

  • By Mark Barber - 1:33 AM on August 5, 2009   Reply

    Hi, deployed CS4 back in April/May but have now got to do the upgrades. All seem fine except for Acrobat Pro and Distiller, the 9.1.3 update seems to prompt the end user for admin authentication on relaunch even when it was fine before. Any ideas?

  • By Eric Wilde - 10:47 AM on August 5, 2009   Reply

    Acrobat Pro and Distiller use a different update technology and are in a very different group. I’ll forward your question to that team.

  • By drew - 12:43 PM on August 7, 2009   Reply

    How about not forcing the Adobe PDF browser plugin down our throat’s via the updates.
    On the Mac we have a great PDF viewer made by Apple, it just works (almost all of the time). The Safari/ Preview PDF plugin for browsers also works well.
    The Adobe Reader plugin is slow to load in comparision & often crashes the browser (the CS3 version did so all the time).
    Whenever Adobe Reader gets updated you carelessly ignore the fact that we have removed your crappy plugin, & install it again. You also use the same tactics with the Reader plugin for MS Word, we don’t need this, our computers already print to PDF just fine thanks !
    It is just plain rude, and makes managing Adobe updates on a small lab of computers a real chore.
    If you want us to be secure & upto date then at least allow us to keep the huge update downloads & install them onto other computers. As it is I need to download 489 Mb of updates for every Mac we use CS3 on.
    I also agree with the other commenters, the 2am update time is useless for us, we try to save energy by turning off computers when they are not in use. Having to edit a launchd.plist would add to the ‘Adobe updater hate’ in our workplace, espeially when combined with your tendancy to overwrite our prefered setup.
    Adobe you make great software, but lousy updaters.

  • By Eric Wilde - 2:44 PM on August 7, 2009   Reply

    Thanks for your comments. The Acrobat and Reader teams are quite different teams than where I’m involved. I’ve forwarded your comments to them. Unfortunately, I cannot provide you a better response than that at this time.

  • By drew - 7:25 PM on August 7, 2009   Reply

    Thanks for posting my comment.
    I have found other strange features with updating CS3. The updates that can be manually downloaded from the support site are named differently to the files that are downloaded by the automatic updater, so there is no hope of placing the ‘support’ versions into the correct install folder so the download stage isn’t required by Adobe updater.
    The frustrating part is trying to install updates manually, all of the files are contained in a disk image with a volume that is named the same for each update, the updater application is also named identically. When the AdobePatcher app is launched it rarely tells you what you are about to update untill the actual install process has completed. I know CS3 is old hat now, but I look forward to when we can afford to update.
    I didn’t intend this to be a rant but it probably seems that way 🙂 I think Mac users are spoilt with the simplicity & elegance of Apples built in Software Update. The strength of it seems to come from the use of packages as an install medium – you can keep them & move them to other macs, sensible file naming etc. Anything else seems like a bad idea. I guess I need to learn how to repackage your installers as pkg’s.
    Anyway keep making the great software.

  • By Tony - 2:14 AM on August 9, 2009   Reply

    For PC: See how Microsoft Update in Vista/Windows 7 works? Check update(s), downloading update(s), installing update(s).
    No pops up, no EULA, no restart your computer while you are in the middle of your work, no BITS installing.
    It is that easy.

  • By Eric Wilde - 6:25 PM on August 9, 2009   Reply

    Thanks again for your comments. Do you mind if I use your comments internally to help stir up some movement?
    The points you bring up, particularly about updates given the same name, are items that we’ve been trying to address for a long while. People seeing actual users complain about these issues will help get them addressed.
    The process here is that each product team (e.g. Photoshop, After Effects, InDesign, etc.) is responsible for its own updates. It isn’t feasible to have a central team responsible for the many updates that go out on a wide variety of schedules. As such, input like yours helps to educate the product teams making updates so that they know what problems our users face.

  • By Chris Hohman - 11:18 AM on August 11, 2009   Reply

    In response to Drew and others about the 2am update time. I wanted to clarify that check for updates is very minimal process. It is not the same as downloading and installing the update. This will either occur in the middle of the night if your machine is available, or at wake. The process takes about a second or two to run.
    Thanks, Chris

  • By drew - 3:10 PM on August 14, 2009   Reply

    The 2am check probably is ok if it will also run after the machine was off or sleeping. It would still be nice to be able to schedule, but that is not essential provided it does run on wake/ restart (launchd jobs can be hit and miss after sleeping IIRC).
    Pass my comments on if you think it will help, anything that makes life easier for administering the Creative Suite makes me happy 🙂

  • By Martin Briley - 3:19 PM on August 14, 2009   Reply

    If users have moved the application, you have to let them direct the updater to the proper location.
    Adobe installs a lot of garbage on our systems, including redundant legal notices in several languages scattered through numerous directories. Users must be allowed to CLEAN UP THIS MESS without breaking future updates.

  • By Chris - 6:13 AM on August 22, 2009   Reply

    How do I turn the updater off. It has never worked for 8.1.3 as it does not show any updates EVER. I manually downloaded them from your website to 8.1.6.
    I’d rather not see the window at all, as the Preferences don’t work either.

  • By Eric Wilde - 2:09 PM on August 22, 2009   Reply

    I assume you mean Acrobat 8.1.3. I don’t have that product here this weekend; but, with Acrobat 9 the instructions are below. Acrobat 8.1.3 should be similar if not exactly the same.
    Go to the menu item Help->Check for Updates…
    It will launch AUM. If there are updates then the main AUM dialog will appear. If not, then a simple notification dialog appears. Either way, click the “Preferences” button.
    At the top of the preferences dialog is a checkbox. “Automatically check for updates”. If you uncheck this box then no automatic updates should ever occur.

  • By Brian - 11:43 AM on August 27, 2009   Reply

    Ravi, your response above “2) System-wide proxy server settings – This was a Mac specific problem, which we have fixed in the new Updater.” is incorrect. There are (still) plenty of problems with the proxy on Windows machines as well.

  • By electroniccigarettes - 10:40 AM on September 17, 2009   Reply

    Wonderful Post.
    Thank you for the details.

  • By GL - 9:52 PM on September 23, 2009   Reply

    I can’t say for acrobat 9, but for ver 8, why are there no obvious, granular preferences for the user to CHOOSE how the product updates under E)dit P)references or elsewhere on a convenient, direct, accessible MENU? What is up with the arrogrant “we know what users need” or “silent forced install” approach? Why do we have to search the internet for HOURS to try and find out how to @#$% TURN OFF OR PROPERLY CUSTOMIZE OR CONTROL ADOBE PRODUCTS UPDATING BEHAVIOR.

  • By Eric Wilde - 11:26 AM on September 24, 2009   Reply

    For most Adobe products, you can set update preferences in the same way via the updater itself. One of the issues here is that a single update experience should apply to all desktop products within the Adobe Creative Suite. Having separate update preferences for each product could lead to inconsistent behavior between the products, so we have the preferences within the updater application itself.
    I agree with you that the UI could be easier to find.

  • By Brian Perry - 9:39 AM on September 30, 2009   Reply

    So, I have CS4 Design Premium at work. And I got tired of the thing asking me to install updates. So I selected “automatically check for updates”.
    But I’ve since been forced to change my password due to the network policy. This also changed my proxy server password. But I can’t go back into the updater to change my password, since it uses my old password to access the internet. So even when I manually select “Check for Updates…”, I can’t access the dialog to unselect Automatic Updates, and I can’t change the old proxy server password that is cached by the updater.
    This causes 3 failed logins, and results in me being locked out from my account. 🙁
    So I’d suggest that in the future, you always provide a way for people to access preferences and settings.
    Also, if you used even remotely standard methods of using proxy servers (like most applications do), then I wouldn’t be required to provide those details to the updater.

  • By Eric Wilde - 11:16 AM on September 30, 2009   Reply

    Thanks for the feedback. Much of what you suggest is what we’re trying to achieve now.

  • By nonegiven - 9:48 PM on October 1, 2009   Reply

    I am sorry but this whole business it is typical for the second class service Adobe gives Mac products and dominance of Windows-based developer and management attitudes within Adobe.
    I am particularly pained by the utterly chronic and seemingly unsolvable problem you have with the Mac OS installer.
    It is abysmal that a company the size of Adobe cannot send out a product that adheres to Mac OS STDs … and simply works.
    Still and yet again I am suffering problems with this. It is inexcusable.

  • By Ken - 6:00 AM on November 13, 2009   Reply

    I wish that the updater did combined updates… it’s really annoying to have to download 30+ MB multiple times for each point release…why not a combined updater that brings it to the current version (even if the updater is bigger, running it once is much easier.) Also, why do Adobe products insist on a reboot after update? It’s just a user application, MS has even figured out how to update much of the OS without rebooting, but Adobe requires a reboot for lousy Acrobat Reader !?! Perhaps if Adobe stuck closer to OS standards the updater and installers would not be so problematic.

  • By Eric Wilde - 11:38 AM on November 13, 2009   Reply

    This is another artifact of a large company with multiple solutions for the same problem. All Creative Suite applications other than Acrobat support *only* cumulative patches. Also, in the last five years only Acrobat patches have required reboots. Your comments are right on the mark, though.

  • By assuriffub - 1:16 PM on December 15, 2009   Reply

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  • By David - 10:38 AM on January 4, 2010   Reply

    The goals of your July 2009 posting were certainly desirable. However, still today, my Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional (ver 8.1.6) still interjects “update now” notices with blank contents that can’t be installed, no access to preferences to shut them off, requiring 3 clicks to make the sign go away, about once a week or more often. As a reminder and a suggested New Year’s resolution, here were your goals:
    * Make the Adobe Updater install the updates successfully and if the updater fails, ensure whatever was installed as part of updater is rolled back and the machine is back to its orginal state.
    * Make the Adobe Updater non-intrusive. The Adobe Updater should not interfere with the user’s tasks by poping dialogs in middle of your extremely critical workflows. It will not be an in your face application.
    * Make sure the Adobe Updater when running does not hog your CPU cycles.
    * Using the Adobe Updater should be a pleasant experience.
    * Checking for updates is silent and the notification for available updates is clean and unobtrusive

  • By Eric Wilde - 1:31 AM on January 5, 2010   Reply

    Please bear in mind that Acrobat 8 shipped almost 3 years ago. Acrobat 9 has since shipped and, at least on Windows, is now using a different updater that should be better. Also, I’ve forwarded your comments to the Acrobat team (as an artifact of the corporate structure, I’m not actually responsible for the Acrobat patches and they go their own way.)

  • By Bala - 9:34 PM on January 7, 2010   Reply

    This is where the updates are stored..

  • By Pekka L.J. Jalkanen - 4:10 AM on January 8, 2010   Reply

    This thread is about updating, so I guess this is as good as any to post my remarks about problems deploying updates.
    While the installation tools should now be the same for both updates and actual product installs, the CS4 deployment toolkit fails to create AdobeUberInstaller.xml files for updates, complaining about “invalid product” As a result, to get our InCopy installations updated, I had to manually hack together such a file, using the AdobeUberinstaller.xml file of the actual product installation as a template and copying the relevant payload adobeCode from the setup.xml file shipped with the updater. The result works, but it is a try-and-error hack.
    So, this should be fixed as a short-term solution as we wait for the real PKG installation method to arrive.
    There is also currently a problem in the actual product installation that it requires a user to be logged on during execution of the installer, at least if AIR is going to be installed. Otherwise the installation hangs. This is very problematic.
    And finally, it would be helpful if all the product settings would be stored in property list files so that it would be easier to administratively define program preferences; the current situation is time wasting, as it requires system administrators to learn Adobe scripting APIs, so that they can manage preferences using Startup Scripts. Unfortunately there are also third party extensions that are not scriptable at all and are thus now completely unmanageable, but if Adobe would force all settings to be stored in property lists, then these files could be managed using OS tools, regardless of their own scriptability.

  • By Eric Wilde - 10:42 AM on January 8, 2010   Reply

    Thank you very much for the thoughtful input. This is indeed helpful. I’d like to bring in the engineering manager on my team closer to this technology to discuss further with you. Now is a particularly good time since we’re starting the EDT implementation for the next CS release.
    Please expect another response (either in email or here) shortly. He’s in the IST time zone and so we will likely not get back to you until Monday AM.

  • By Rich - 11:45 AM on May 18, 2010   Reply

    Well, it’s a year later… too bad you can’t just do it instead of just talking about how your thinking about doing it someday, maybe.

  • By Eric Wilde - 2:05 PM on May 18, 2010   Reply

    CS 5 shipped with the new updater.

  • By Vky - 5:31 AM on December 15, 2010   Reply

    I really don’t need adobe updater for Adobe reader 9. I have tried many things to get rid of it but, it keeps on coming and ailing. There should be something which should not notify the users about latest adobe updates. Who needs updates everyday for adobe reader? And, I have read 1000s of post where adobe updater keeps on coming to the notification and, and ultimately they uninstall the app and install some other PDF readers, light and without notification like “update”.

    • By Eric Wilde - 10:34 AM on December 15, 2010   Reply

      You are correct. The AUM product is no longer needed for Acrobat starting with the Acrobat 9.3 patch. You should be able to turn off automated checks for updates through the AUM preferences.

      Note that AUM is no longer shipping with products starting with CS5 and Acrobat 10. Due to the issues seen with AUM (some of which are mentioned here), we scrapped the previous implementation and started afresh. With the CS5 patches we’re seeing a much higher success rate for patch deployment.

  • By jw - 3:56 PM on December 16, 2010   Reply

    I have labs that come up at night and then download and install windows updates automatically at the login prompts, will i be able to do this with Adobe CS5 products soon

  • By Martin Willcocks - 10:38 PM on June 1, 2011   Reply

    I am sick and tired of finding an Adobe update is available almost every time I try to work on my computer. I generally run Task Manager to stop this abominable program from running when I need to do something RIGHT NOW and do not want to bother with Adobe updates I don’t need right now. Instead, install a desktop icon that I can run any time to run whatever updates are needed. Almost every update I see is about some security issue or another – why don’t you guys get it right the first time and not have to keep patching your product every week for security updates? Once a month should be sufficient.

    • By Eric Wilde - 9:26 AM on June 2, 2011   Reply


      Thanks for your comments. I’m wondering what updates you are seeing and what version of the products you are using. With CS5 we completely rewrote the updater because of so many comments like this one from our users. Its no longer anywhere nearly in-your-face as it used to be.

      Note that Acrobat 10 still has its own updater that is a bit less unobtrusive when updates are available.

  • By M H - 7:39 PM on March 12, 2012   Reply

    Unfortunately, I am having a problem with my Adobe Reader 9 never updating because it always rolls back and installation fails. Every time. Not just sometimes. This has been happening now for almost a year. I’ve tried un-installing, then re-installing Adobe Reader 9, but that didn’t fix the problems either. It would be nice to know I had all the updates. I would rather be interrupted and know that I am more secure from the latest security threat than NOT to receive the updates at all due to constant installation failures. We humans are just never happy with how things are. Every great system is bound to have a few weaknesses. Any suggestions are welcome. Please use the email above to reply.

    • By Eric Wilde - 11:21 PM on March 12, 2012   Reply


      Unfortunately I don’t know off the top of my head what might be going wrong. The Acrobat update mechanism is unique and shares no part of their implementation with other products. So I cannot speak with any authority on it. I’ll log a customer support case for you and let customer support respond to you.

  • By Benjamin S - 10:14 AM on April 6, 2012   Reply

    Why is the Adobe Updater running all the time as a service? Why not use the task scheduler? You should give options on updates: 1) Check for updates when starting the product. 2) Every day/week at X time. 3) Shortly after startup.

    I really dislike more and more update programs running all the time. I do not like the idea of programs running on my computer when they do not need to. I always turn these update services off and move the updates to being handled by task scheduler or manually if I cannot get them working in Task Scheduler. I do not trust what companies can do with programs always running on your computer and I do not want resources used on my computer all the time when I only use a program once a week to once a month.

  • By Bob -Andover, MA - 7:49 AM on August 22, 2012   Reply

    It takes 4.5 times as many words as the Gettysburg Address to justify/explain AUM approach???? If it takes that many words then the process being described (IMHO) is *way* too complex.

    [It also reflects Adobe’s fanciful self-image as being significantly more important than everything else on a user’s device]

    Us users have dozens of applications, plugins, services, etc. all of which update themselves in a relatively non-intrusive manner; and all of which do not have to justify an overly complex updater process with an equally complex blog entry.

    Sorry for the flame, but after years of Adobe updater popping up and asking me to install an update or remind me later, I’ve had about all I can take.

  • By Elray Marais - 8:59 PM on November 25, 2012   Reply

    I have my Photoshop CS5, how do I update my Photoshop CS5?

    • By Elray Marais - 9:00 PM on November 25, 2012   Reply

      I need to update my photoshop CS5, thamk you.

    • By Eric Wilde - 11:23 AM on November 26, 2012   Reply

      Under the Help menu in the Photoshop product you can select the “Updates…” menu item.