Is Software an Expense?

They say software is the real beauty of technology. The inner technology is the most valuable in the field. While it’s cheaper for say a technology company to avoid producing too much hardware using off the shelf parts at a razor thin margin, the real question is can people really afford software, and why is that not a “commodity”? Is the inner beauty could very well be it’s own worst enemy?

In short, the answer would be yes.

The price of software is going through the roof, and non for profits, or barely for profits and the public sector is probably on the most minimal supported software on both the packages and the operating systems. Software is an expense. And it’s not mostly that stupid DVD or “digital download”. No its the perpetual licenses, whether its end user, the computer or a login; or the now popular trend of services so the vendor can supply beyond support and materials. Sometimes these “services” are better known as the cloud. This is how major software vendors like Microsoft and Adobe can have secure revenue; because the software in many cases is not installed locally like it used to be. Second, it prevents software piracy and third, you have no choice but to use the latest and greatest.

The Cloud is what will drive prices down. Hosted on cheap Chinese made hardware and designed for large environments hosted by companies like Amazon Web Services; all users at some point (in many of their perverted minds) will be using “devices” and be using apps that will require the always-on Internet connection.

Is this the right path? Um no. If  you’re talking about everybody

Many customers especially in mid sized enterprises or sites will most likely have a single Internet connection, possibly another redundant connection. Secondly what happens if the Internet goes black, even just a silly DDOS that just jams the Net? What about security? The idea of no data centers is possibly nerve-racking for some IT managers. Microsoft has even been pushing their Active Directory to live on the cloud via their Azure service. Windows 8 may very well be the last version of Windows to be an operating system that could be dependent locally as Microsoft is now pushing and touting Windows as a “service” – much like a utility, like water, electricity or gas.

Another question is what if a customer wants a well water, or solar power or heat themselves during the winter? There will be no option whatsoever in the coming years. IT still exists, as the one size fits all arrogance will  live on as a business model. Unless you look at alternatives; and most likely it won’t do the job in the same quality. Alternatives are not taken seriously as a competitor.

To my original question, could any competition drive the cost of software down? The problem is when you have Adobe and Microsoft owning ether creative professional or the business professional markets; and for so long; no one will really compete against them seriously. Sure there’s Google Apps/Docs/Whatever brand of the day; but Google is something that’s better fit for schools. Hell they should slap the Edmark brand and market it to grade schools!

Secondly, Free Open Source Software is not the best solution. Many FOSS fanboys will say it’s “free, there’s Libre Office and there’s Gimp to edit photos and there’s a Final Cut Pro [read really iMovie], etc. A lot of these implementations often have taken grasp of it’s general features. Libre or Open Office-dot-org typically is not designed well for a visual user who needs WYSIWIG like editing. It also lacks grammar (as nerds typically lack grammar and write Case Sensitive Like They Do On Their UNIX Session; so that doesn’t help.) It’s preferences are way too many and not put together, another flaw with FOSS. And also like I said, where’s Visio, wheres Project and even a serious Outlook like client that does more than emails?

And such solution will never be “free”. Also while there are downloadable apps for Linux platforms; it doesn’t mean all software is an app. Many are just blueprints, known better by the Application Programming Interface or API for that matter. This is where integrators come in; and many customers in the public sectors in Europe have learned the hard way; as notorious as Microsoft is with licenses, that its more expensive for someone to design a Linux  computing environment.

With the lack of inexpensive alternatives; and the modern IT pushing the cloud for everyone; there really isn’t an option for the professional user who needs applications to help do their work better. No it’s not just data entry and writing memos. And no “utility” like apps (the ones that come with the operating system) is also not going to solve the void. Professional software despite what you hear from the analysts is still a market that will be in demand for years; if only the vendors get their act together. Options should include the “well water”, (the “fat client” or the actual application that can live without needing the Internet all the time); lower costs for the “fat client” as they could actually make money with a lower entry level on licenses; and more simplification of licenses. Microsoft started this mess and  they should clean it up. No employee should be worth up to $1,500 a year with “right to use” software for their organization. As I previously mentioned, VMware can go up to the upper four figures for a full fledged version of their virtualization system, and upgrades are pretty pricey too.

Is the software industry to be blamed for also putting once shrink wrapped boxes of their applications with a “sell by” like date? Software always had an end of life and end of support; and we know that’s very prelevent with hardware, but does a customer have any rights whatsoever to stick with a software that “works”? Or was that right taken away with so many vague clauses in the End User License Agreements or Software Licensing Agreements?

Maybe the software industry is a scam.