I'm in a ranting mood today, so it's the perfect time for me to complain about the state of firewalls. Specifically, about how they're an incredible pain for desktop developers and support technicians to deal with.
Here's the deal: every single time a new version of FeedDemon is released, we get complaints that it no longer connects to the Internet. And every single time the culprit has been a firewall which silently blocks the new version. Now, I can certainly understand why a firewall would warn the user that an executable has changed - it should do that - but I fail to understand why it would block a changed application without informing the user. As far as the end user is concerned, the application just doesn't work.
Even worse is that some software firewalls continue to block applications even after they've been disabled. So savvy end users who disable their firewall in an attempt to determine whether it's blocking an application are led to believe that the firewall isn't the problem, so it must be the application's fault. And unbelievably, we've even seen ZoneAlarm continue to block applications despite the fact that it has been uninstalled (figure that one out, folks)!
This is so clearly insane that I have to think it's on purpose, like it's part of a vast Web 2.0 conspiracy to get people to stop using desktop applications by making them impossible to support.
OK, so maybe that's a stretch, but visit the support forum of any desktop application that connects to the Internet, and I'll bet you'll find people complaining that they upgraded to the newest version of the application and now it won't connect. This situation is wasting countless hours for end users, programmers and support staff alike.
Surely firewall developers can do better than this?