Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Update or upgrade?

A new assignment has been given to you. A new update to the software, or is it an upgrade? After a while, when you have written a few lines in the technical specification you realize that you cannot decide which term to use, and you have already used both of them in the document. 

Which term, update or upgrade, should be used? This is my personal definition, but I have seen others using the same definition.

An update is often a small change, e.g. a bug fix. But it can also be smaller new features added. What a small feature is will of course vary from product to product.

An upgrade is a pretty large change in the software. The software can be partially re-written or many new features has been added.

A software may be often updated, but not so often upgraded. In commercial software, an update is often free (since it may be a bug fix) but upgrades are not (new features added, or a new platform support).

This is one definition, but every software organization should adapt it to suit their specific needs.