Vista is a great example of this. How many of your current desktop applications are compatible with Vista? How many will be? This can be an expensive question to answer, according to DeMarco.
Dave Thompson, CIO of Symantec, sees the situation from both perspectives — as a purchaser of desktop software for his company and as the CIO of a technology company selling desktop and enterprise software. And he sides with CompTIA’s position that there is choice in the market, collusion is an illusion, and customers have free will to do as they please.
“I really think it’s a stretch to think there’s collusion … because of the complexity of software and the interdependencies,” says Thompson. “It’s unrealistic to create a perfect technology that would never need to be upgraded. This person (DeMarco) doesn’t know technology obviously and doesn’t understand the complexity involved in writing multi-million lines of code.”
The bottom line, says DeMarco, is companies, in increasing numbers, are looking to avoid the whole mess by leasing software or moving to open source. Let the software companies themselves shoulder the burden of maintenance and upgrades. Once this happens in large enough numbers, says DeMarco, then you will see a lot more backward and forward compatibility built into products from the outset.
“If you’re licensing a piece of software, it is very likely to be backward-compatible as much as possible because the vendor wants people in all stages of, for instance, operating system maturing, to be able to use their product,” says DeMarco. “So, they’re incentivized to make compatibility with all versions of existing software.”