A few weeks ago I wrote about the problem with the computer repair industry. This week I will be talking about the problem with the software industry with a focus on Norton and Vista.
I’ll start this article by talking about the infamous Symantec Norton Internet Security. Most technicians frown upon it because its slow and unstable (and misses many threats, but that’s another topic). Some of us even joke that the best piece of software that Symantec ever made was the Norton Removal Tool.
Did you know that Norton Internet Security was once a good antivirus? I even had it myself. There was once a point in time when it was fast and stable and was the internet protection package to have.
So what happened to it? Well, that can be answered with another question. How do you keep on selling the perfect product? How do you get the person who brought Norton Internet Security last year to want to buy the same thing again this year? With new features of course.
Norton Internet Security was originally a standalone virus scanner/firewall where it would run a system scan every so often and stop strange internet traffic. Then they added an email scanner to scan emails going in both directions. Later, they added antipspyware features. They continued adding many other features each year such as wireless security, instant messenger protection, identity theft/scam protection, rootkit detection and more. This kept on happening until we have the bloated, slow and unstable monstrosity that we have today.
Does this sound like any other recent software?
Windows Vista has suffered the same fate. Microsoft has added more features into Vista (but surprisingly, not that many more useful features) at the cost of performance. I believe that it was Windows XP that was at that magic point where its a nice balance of performance verses features. Chances are the next version of Windows wont be much better, people wont upgrade unless they see a good reason to do so. Microsoft will use extra features as the sales point of the new operating system again and will probably just be another Vista.
This happens across the board with just about all software. Even software that doesn’t really need to upgrade such as Adobe Acrobat Reader (I just want to read PDF’s dammit!) became bloated. As of the time of writing this article, Adobe Acrobat Reader is a 22.4mb download whereas its freeware equivalent Foxit Reader is only 1.6mb. If FoxIt reader can read PDF’s with only 1.6mb, why cant Adobe?
Id say this is partially why the open source community is picking up speed, people are just sick of the bloated commercial applications and replace them with streamlined open source versions.
Wikipedia describes software bloat as:
Bloat is described as the tendency to replace efficient and focused applications with less efficient enhanced versions, inefficiencies or unnecessary modules in program design and operation, and the incorporation of extended features which will be extraneous or low value for most users but slow down the program overall even if unused.
Sounds about right to me. Thats what is wrong with the software industry.
What do you guys think?