Re: The Future of Software

Brian Atkins (
Sun, 04 Jan 1998 10:55:24 -0500

Yeah, it's called shareware. If you hadn't noticed, it is booming
on the net nowadays. There is even "push" from companies like
Marimba that lets you auto-update your code as needed.

Most shareware seems to be sticking to the "pay once, use forever"
strategy, but includes a year of updates or something. I'm not
sure at which point (if ever), the authors will move to a pay
per use model even though the technology already exists today
and could be included easily.

David A Musick wrote:
> I'm always disturbed when I'm using a piece of software that's flawed in
> obvious ways and in ways that seriously limit the functionality of the
> software or it's ease of use. I always come up with good ideas for
> fixing the problems and am frustrated by the fact that my ideas will not
> be implemented. But I have reason to believe this will not be a problem
> in the future.
> As the Internet expands, as bandwidth increases, as e-cash becomes
> standard and as trusted systems become widely prevalent, I can foresee
> much software being distributed through the Internet on a pay-as-you-use
> basis. The software will likely be component-based software, where each
> component could be designed by different programmers, who are paid some
> small amount each time their component is used (the cost of using the
> software would be the sum of the cost of running the components which are
> run). This would allow someone who sees a flaw in some piece of software
> or something they want to add on to improve the software, to make those
> changes, and when people use the components that they have added, they
> will be paid for it.
> I'm sure a lot of companies will still copyright their software and not
> allow it to be modified, but I know a lot of people would encourage
> others to improve their software. Of course, then we'd end up with
> thousands of different versions of one piece of software, at varying
> degrees of quality. This naturally leads to some sort of selection
> system; people want to use good software, but they don't have time to
> evaluate thousands of different pieces of software. So they pay people
> to do it for them. I can see Web sites which offer really good software,
> for a small fee, of course.
> Basically, this could allow software to evolve much more than it does
> today. There is a real financial motive for programmers to improve
> software, even if they didn't design the original version. The original
> programmers benefit from this public modification of their software since
> most of what they wrote (and will get paid for) is unlikely to be
> modified much in the short term, at least, and any improvements to their
> software will only serve to make it more competitive and used more often,
> and thus they will get paid more.
> The details of how to keep track of who wrote what and how to determine
> pricing and how to make it difficult to get around paying for what you
> use are somewhat tricky, but I have high confidence that it can, and
> will, be done. I look forward to that time.
> David Musick (
> - Continual improvement is the highest good.

The future has arrived; it's just not evenly distributed.
                                                       -William Gibson
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