Can we have “Latest” URLs for downloads, please!

Background

I spend much time hunting for the latest version of software packages. This is part of my job as a consultant. I’m frequently setting up test, demo and prototype environments. I do this in order to keep myself in synch with new technologies. And to help others learn and use new technology.

I write presentations, demos, blog posts, instructions, howtos etc.

The Problem

As the release cycles gets shorter and shorter it is becoming increasingly hard to write good instructions. For example, If I need to explain how to install the latest “Windows Management Framework” I will need a very specific URL. (As of this writing the latest I have found is the may preview. )

If I put this URL in a wiki or blogpost it will be obsolete very quickly (the previous release of the WMF 5 preview was in april) and so I will have to either updare my blogpost or trust the user to find the correct latest version.

If I omit the URL and instead write a general instruction such as “Search Google for ‘Windows management Framework Download’” the user of my documentaton can end up with any version at all as is shown from these to examples from Bing and Google.

Search-bing Search-Gogle
Bing result Google result

NB: See how the Google search returns the next to latest edition, there is no trace of the latest version of the Windows Management Framework may preview.

This makes it very likely that whoever is following my written instruction will not end up with the latest version of Windows Management Framework.

The Solution

The solution that I would like to propose is that Microsoft start using a download URL constructed as this

http://microsoft.com/download/<product>/latest

Using Windows Management Framework as an example:

http://microsoft.com/download/wmf5/latest

This URL would ensure that I get the latest release code, not the next best or whatever I find on Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo or wherever I am searching.

If I don’t want the bleeding edge I could use:

http://microsoft.com/download/wmf5/stable

If I needed a specific version te URL could be similar to:

http://microsoft.com/download/wmf5/2014-04-03

What this would require (I’m guessing now) is that somewhere within Microsoft a list of downloads would need to be mapped to the latest release code. The list of product names would need to be made into URL friendly shortnames (<product> in my example above). And the build processes for putting stuff on the Microsoft download sites would need to be adjusted so that it maps the “latest” to the most recently released piece of code.

I’m sure Microsoft have done more complex projects than this! Ler

So please Microsoft, give us more documetation friendly URLs!!!

Disclaimer

What I propose above is nothing new. Many open source projects already do this. A good example is WordPress. It’s simple to write instructions for a user to get the latest WordPress, the URL is:

https://wordpress.org/latest.zip

Let me know what you think! And even better, get this fixed Microsoft!