A blog about computers, open source, software and other perceptions gained over the years as a sysadmin.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Perfect software?

Are you just like me fed up with buggy broken software that demands constant patching and care? Do you as many others think this is because its impossible to make high quality software? Ill try to describe why in a couple of blog posts just why todays computers have such low quality, especially their in software.

One problem facing software today is the total lack of any functional guaranties. Of historical reasons software never got the status as goods but by pure chance it got threated as books, photos or musical pieces. A software company has no legal obligation at all to deliver working software. The only demands i know of is that it should do roughly what the documentation or sales material states. As such a customer cant demand anything really if newly bought software is utterly broken. If it works sometimes the vendor is off the hook.

Because of this there isnt really any incentive to write software of high quality. Its easier to just release patches when enough people complain about a specific bug or security issue. The real problem is that the 300 000$ payroll system you just bought was in the letter of the law just a book. Whatever problem they can just ignore it legally and tell you to buy the next version instead. Any patching they do is really PR and nothing they have to do.

This is really a big problem as more and more hardware gets attached to computers and the internet. We already have more than enough infrastructure that peoples lives depend on connected to software. It should warrant at least partial responsibility for security and functionality from software developers.

We have had computers for what, 40 years now and quality has not risen one bit. Especially if you disregard Microsoft who practically invented the notion of releasing broken software and then slowly patch it up to a half-working state.

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