Software bloat

Its sheer immensity, complexity, ambiguity and incomprehensibility make it a scourge on
the economy and on people's lives. Its mas-


ters tinker with it constantly to benefit vested interests, yet they proclaim the
changes are for the public good.


In fact, the whole thing sounds like PC software.


Software on the average PC is so bloated and conflicted that any given user is on the
verge of a crash at any time. If systems don't crash, then annoying quirks creep in. Here
are a few recent examples:


In the past, to install hardware or an operating system, IBM Corp. would send a team of
three to do the job. They'd shut down the system, install the products and spend three
days making sure they worked.


Nowadays, we expect network administrators-or worse, end users-to install far more
complex pieces of code from multiple vendors. Then we wonder why PC support is so
expensive and intractable.


There's even special software that roots around Web sites looking for patches, fixes,
drivers and clean-up software just to keep the rest of the software working.


No wonder so-called thin clients have such appeal. With a single point of
administration, centrally stored files, absolute version control and client management
from the server, users might get their work done.


But people don't want terminals or sealed PCs any more than they prefer the city bus to
driving their own cars. Rather than return to an inflexible yesteryear, volume buyers like
the government must start insisting that the software industry come to grips with the
costs of software bloat.


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