At 03:13 PM 11/12/01 -0500, Bagotronix Tech Support wrote:
> > There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the "software as a service"
> > concept. In fact, properly implemented, it could be an improvement over
> > more common product concept.
>Having your house cleaned is a service.


>   Having your yard mowed is a


>   What these 2 examples DO NOT have in common with software is that
>they are consumable, and cannot build upon past work.

Huh? Neither one is "a consumable," neither one is a tangible item for 
purchase, involving physical possession. Both of them can "build on past 
work." If my house is cleaned this week, it may only need touch-up next 
week, likewise the mowing of my lawn. Or the repair of my car.

With a car, physical possession is important, it is a tangible good. But 
its maintenance is not. I can, however, *rent* a car, where title remains 
with the rental company. The rental often includes service.

>   Software is not
>consumable, and it can be built upon.

These terms are not precisely defined.

>   To me, software is a product that
>should never wear out, and should always improve with each new release.

"Should" is also not precisely defined. A model car may represent a step 
backward. If the public thinks it is an improvement, they may buy it, if 
they would rather have an older model, they don't have to buy the new one. 
That with *tangible* goods.

>Furthermore, each new release should not cost ever more money, because they
>didn't have to rewrite each new release from scratch - they built on
>existing code.  This is why it is absurd for software to cost ever more

Yet it requires ever more investment in programming. Improving a product 
without creating new bugs is so difficult that it is rarely accomplished.

The fact is that software is not like cars, and it is not like having your 
lawn mowed. It can be described as a tangible, in which case one expects 
that, for example, it can be resold. Much software is sold this way.

*Or* it can be described as a service. Configuring a computer may not seem 
like programming to you, but I remember when I bought a computer which I 
programmed by flicking switches on the front panel, stepping through the 
enormous memory space of 256 bytes. It came with *no* software. This was 
the original Altair 8800 from MITS.

I bought the computer, $300 or so. That's a tangible good. Then I 
programmed it; had I done this for someone else, it would have been a 

A great deal of software for the mainframe and minicomputers of those days 
was sold as a service contract; I had no experience with this software, I 
just know of its existence.

Software is nothing other than standardized programming; the service 
product has been packaged and sold, often as if it were tangible good (like 
a dictionary, which, like programming, is a collection of symbols designed 
to accomplish a certain purpose when input to a processor programmed to 
read it. Like us.), but often not.

>   But it is happening - Protel is costing more, Windows is costing
>more, Word is costing more than ever before.  The trend cannot be sustained:
>in the year 2040, Protel will be $100,000 per copy, Windows will cost $1,000
>per copy, PCs will be $50 each.  OK, I'm not saying that these prices will
>really exist in 2040, just that the "trend" extrapolated indicates that they
>would be.

At the same rate of inflation as took place over the time involved, from 
which the trend was inferred, I suspect, those prices will be reasonable. 
But state of the art PCs will not cost $50.

Yes, programming is *already* much more valuable than the machines on which 
they run. Just as an educated worker is much more valuable than one who is 
not educated. "Education" is "programming."

If whoever is making the equivalent of Windows or Protel in 2040 is 
charging too much, someone else will provide a similar product for less. 
That's how the market works.

If people don't want to buy software as a service, someone will be offering 
it as a tangible. I presume that you will buy the one you prefer. As for 
myself, well, I'll be pushing 100 then. Assuming that I survive with 
faculties intact, I'd think that a $1000 operating system that ran on a $50 
computer would be considered *cheap.* Today, a decent computer with OS for 
$1050 is about standard price. But computers will probably be much more 
important to use in 2040, therefore I expect that a higher percentage of 
our income will be devoted to them and to their peripherals, the network, etc.

>The other problem with software as a service is that it takes away the
>incentive to fix problems and add features.  Why should you, if you have a
>guaranteed revenue stream, and you can hold your customer's data hostage to
>proprietary (undocumented) file formats?

You don't have a guaranteed revenue stream. If you sell a program that only 
stores client data in a proprietary format, with no import and export, yes, 
you have them. Think Cadence Allegro, except that export and import *are* 
possible, just not included.

Actually, selling a tangible, to my mind, provides *less* incentive to 
improve the program. Start a corporation, sell the software, cash out, and 
leave the users hanging while you enjoy the Bahamas. Sound familiar?

>I am just trying to nip this industry trend in the bud, getting in a
>preemptive protest before they do.  This recent ATS morass has been (and
>still is) very confusing for me.

Yes. It *is* confusing. That is where I think Altium has really blundered. 
I also think that *maybe* the ATS price is too high, we have conflicting 
information. But it is not the maintenance concept itself that is the 
problem, *especially* if Altium does not attempt to make the software 
repossessable on maintenance expiration. As I wrote, I see no sign of that.

Abdulrahman Lomax
Easthampton, Massachusetts USA

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