A lot of my friends have chatted me up on AutoPatcher’s demise. And I’ve been thinking about the issue myself, especially after I had to start suggesting hotfixes again. But I have come up with a good idea on the matter.
Some have, for awhile, scripted Microsoft’s download site to download all available updates for a product. So, why not take this a step further and tweak AutoPatcher to accomidate? Let people download the hotfixes, either as a checklist-style (using Windows Update Catalog and microsoft.com), or as a “we’ll get them from Microsoft using your PC” technique.
This would actually greatly benefit AutoPatcher (since the product would stay alive) and send a nice message to Microsoft… by hammering their server. AutoPatcher would become a few megabytes, and Microsoft’s servers would finally have to do their job… delivering all updates (critical and reccomended) to customers. The result would be a portable folder that works just like AutoPatcher does today.
Now, this is just an idea. Personally, if I were the AutoPatcher team, my legal team would have already poked plenty of holes in their poorly-worded takedown notice. And, even if I was told the case was a loser, I’d probably be too bitter to continue working on a product that enhanced the original product. I cannot stress enough that I am not anti-Microsoft (who knows, they may cut my paycheck someday)… but this was a poor decision (that Microsoft could still fix). Ideally, AutoPatcher will fix the situation for them, and at the same time, raise Microsoft’s bandwidth bill a bit.
Update: Looks like the AutoPatcher team was on a similar line of thought. Their new post gives some history to AutoPatcher, but basically concludes that they are working on a “web based version”. I can only assume that this is an ActiveX or Java client, similar to how Windows Update operates currently (yes, even the Windows Update in Vista is just post-processing an ActiveX app on the web).
Essentially, it would work in the reverse of the way I presented above. The ActiveX/Java app would scan the system for installed updates, and then direct the user to Microsoft to download the updates (again, either via automating Windows Update Catalog, or via download.microsoft.com and presenting the user with each download page, along with the WGA prompt).