Passive-aggressive system notifications disempower users

Give users the ability to escape any system notifications, with no strings attached. Notifications should respect users’ freedoms. And no more daily nags!

Either force updates to occur on a system, or give users the freedom to update whenever they please. Establish consistent interaction patterns.

Today’s evaluation: system updates!

Bar sleaze model: Apple Mac OS X

Apple forces their users to accept the interaction or procrastinate, with no option to disengage. Apple’s strategy is to wear down their users and won’t take no for an answer. All it needs is to greet its users on login with “Hey beautiful, can I buy you a drink?”

“This window is going to pop-up again, and you, the user, will be forced to interact with in on a daily basis until you do what we want, which is update your system.”

The closest option to “stop asking me to let you touch my files” is the “Later” option in the sub-menu which appears when I press “Install.”

Another example of a forced interaction is the dialogue the system threw in my face when a new version of Safari was released. I don’t really care that Safari was updated. Tell me in the application when I open it that it’s been updated. I want Safari to do what I expect it to do, when I run it. I don’t need it to be doing things while I’m not using it.

Apple can’t seem to handle rejection and won’t let its users choose the “Get out of my face, permanently” option. “We’ve been friends for so long. I’m a Nice OS!” Hint: It’s not.

It’s ours whenever we want it: Microsoft Windows

Microsoft’s model used to be, “We’re going to update whenever we want, even if you’re in the middle of something.” The internet has many such discussions in which Windows users express their rage towards Microsoft’s forced update interactions.

Still, Microsoft takes the initiative on updates when it thinks the user has given consent (shutdown/restart is implied consent), and doesn’t care about misinterpretation: “When you say yes, I’m starting, and you can’t back out.”

The problem is the interpretation of update opportunity. I don’t only shutdown my machine when I am finished with it, I often need to restart because of system errors, memory issues, computer running slowly — something performance-related.

Microsoft should provide a third option, “Restart with updates” or “Shutdown with updates.”

Model which respects users’ choices: Gnome Desktop, Linux

Your mileage may vary when it comes to Linux, but system notifications, since they are shown in actual application windows, are not special “Look at meeee!” popups; they have a safe “out”: The “Close window” button, X.

By BenBen1234 (Self-photographed, derivative work) [GPL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
In the above dialogue, the user is given a clear out from the proposition. You mean, I can call you back a few days from now, and you won’t nag me every day about it until I do?

 

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