Chuck, decided to start a bus route, with a brand new bus, so he ordered a bus from the distributors of Volvo. When it was delivered he was dismayed to find that, although it had a chassis, an engine, a driver’s seat and steering wheel, there was little else. All the “soft options” were missing. He called the distributor who advised that that was the way it was. Chuck had to build his own body, install seats and all the rest of it. And, as he didn’t have a license to drive a bus, he would have to employ a driver.
What’s this got to do with computers and software?
A great deal!
You see a computer is a piece of machinery, just like an engine. You can go out and buy the most expensive, most powerful automobile in the world, but without the soft options and a driver, it won’t go anywhere. The same with a computer. The world’s most powerful and expensive computers, in business, government or the military are, without the software and the drivers, just
USELESS PIECES OF EXPENSIVE JUNK
It is not by accident that Bill Gates is one of the two richest men in the world. As a young man, he recognized the future of home computers and realized they would all need user-friendly software to make them work. He fills that need with Microsoft’s MS Dos, then Windows and other software programs.
Microsoft software, is not, to be frank, the best software in the world, but it is by far the most popular and usually the most affordable. And because it is used on most PC’s around the world, it is almost obligatory to install it on your own computer, to enable an exchange of documents and communicate with others.
Linux is reputed to be a better, more robust operating system than MS Windows, but few people use it because there are relatively few software programs compatible with it, and it takes some time to learn how to use it. And yet there is a free version. There are office suites (similar to MS Office) available on the internet free, there are programs better than MS Powerpoint (IMHO), but MS products are so entrenched in computerland that few people look beyond them unless they can’t get what they need from Microsoft.
Why can’t they get them from Microsoft?
MS only makes popular software that will be used by millions of people. They spend millions of dollars to develop a program, then sell millions of copies of it. A flower breeder wanting a specialized software to assist him breed roses, for instance, can forget about Microsoft. They don’t have it and they are not interested in developing it. Not for the price the flower breeder could pay, anyway. There’s just not enough demand for it. No demand, no profit. No profit, no MS.
So, what can you do if you need a specialized program? Don’t give up hope yet. There are many software developers in the world who are developing niche software programs. You may find what you are looking for already available in your local computer store or, more likely, instantly available for download on the internet. If it’s not available, you can design your own. Yes, you can do that.
There are software designers available who will take your instructions concerning what you want your software to do and design your program for you. Designing and producing software can be likened to building a ship. This designer can be likened to the naval architect who takes instructions from the intended owner and draws up the blueprints for the ship. The architect needs to know a lot about the ship, what it will be used for (cruise ship, warship, cargo ship etc) and its size, capacity, functions and a whole lot more. Your software designer will need to get all this from you, exactly what you want the software to do, its functions, its capacity, its foundation (operating system) and every minute detail of what you require it to do.
Once the blueprint is completed to your satisfaction, your “ship” needs to be built, and this will be done by a programmer, who writes the code. Once the programmer has completed building the “ship,” everything needs to be tested, every little function must be tested over and over to make sure “portholes open and close, doors do the same, the engines work” and so on. In most cases, this requires a few trips back to the programmer to get bugs removed, until it is finally done. Now, once this has been satisfied, the ship will go on a “shakedown” cruise to test all the functions under operating conditions. In computer software, this is beta testing, where the software is handed to a number of testers who put it through rigorous testing to make sure that it works, works well and is robust enough to suffer a little overuse or misuse.
When that’s all done, your software is ready for your use. You now own the world’s only copy of your special software.
Phew! That has taken a lot of time (several months most likely) and a lot of dollars. It may have taken 6 months to a year and cost you upwards of $50,000.00. Has it been worth the wait and the cost? Could you have gotten an existing program and had it adapted to your use? Was there a suitable program lurking out there that you did not find? Was there a way to cut the waiting time and cost? Is there a way to reduce the overall cost?
If you can join with hundreds, or thousands of others, in purchasing existing software or sharing the costs of having special software designed and built, you can reduce the costs remarkably. This is called shareware and it is what you buy from Microsoft, Adobe, and other software companies.
But can you do this with low demand software? Yes, you can. You can buy accounting software, medical practice software, engineering software and many other kinds of software. Talk to people in your line of business and someone will know where to get specialized software that may help you.