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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
I'm just curious to know the number of binary releases(executable files for desktop products) per month.How many such releases does Desktop software vendors do per month.
How frequent you release updates and does frequent releases result in any problems?
We have a Windows desktop product aimed at a niche technical market. We use a subscription model so everybody with a subscription gets the latest version. 12 months of updates cost a few hundred bucks.
We're trying to release a minor update with new features and bug fixes every three months.
We don't want to release more often to avoid any QA issues slipping in in case we rush things. Although we're a very small team so probably couldn't release anything significant much faster than that if we wanted too. But we don't want to release too infrequently as we have an ambitious roadmap we want to execute and so does our competition!
We release major version updates about every 1.5 - 2 years.
Minor version updates are maybe every 4-6 months.
We release builds about every 2 or 3 days, and they are labeled "Preview" builds. Basically they're release candidates. Any one of them might become a Minor update if it's got enough stuff.
The preview builds have been extremely helpful. Customers get bug fixes very quickly (which means we get validation that the bug is fixed in a second environment). New feature requests are exposed there first too so we can get feedback. We make very sure that the Preview build is as solid as the production releases, and it usually is because bug fixes go there first.
I try and avoid binary updates unless I feel that they are not absolutely necessary because of the risks you pointed out. I see each update as a risk of something blowing up. Even if you have the world's largest company with a huge budget and developer resources.
I update ASAP for major bugs, very slowly for new features. Nowadays as the product turned 3, I only release a few updates per year. I think it totally depends on the product. Mine doesn't need many updates.
The release process has turned into something long and complex. First I must wait for the stupid smartscreen to stop throwing the warning, then I start A/B testing the new vs old version. It takes at least 2 weeks to get an almost statistically significant result, then I stop wasting my resources and release the new version for all visitors.
Sometimes I A/B test something on the webpage, that also takes weeks to yield a result and new versions are a no-no during that period.
Now you understand why I would never go to weekly builds. If I had hundreds of downloads per day I could go faster.
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