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Dec 04, 2006


Tony in SV

Disruptive change that really improved productivity might be worth it - but would be a hard sell now.

Change just to make somebody money or look prettier - no thanks. MS Vista, for example, just isn't compelling. I used to be a gadget geek. Now I just want stuff that works.

It will be interesting to see, however, how software handles multiple cores, which is the future. If someone could figure out how to make good use of, say, 4 cores for a workstation, then that would be a reason for a major change.


Rob M

Nice summary. I think that this definitely holds true for most office and productivity tools. I think there is still some value in more niche applications...

Next article... "Reasons why consumers can't avoid upgrades"

Bill Fane

I agree that "software has become good enough". It is my contention that the last or about the last DOS version of most software was the best version. About the only exception that I can think of is 3D parametric modelling software, which of course effectively didn't exist under DOS.

Look at Word, for example. What has each subsequent Windows release given us? Pretty toolbars, fancy icons, a dancing paper clip, but no real improved functionality.

I use Word only because I am forced to; it is "the standard" at the college where I teach, and is the standard file format for sending my magazine articles to editors.

WordPerfect 5.0 under DOS can still do many things that the current Word version cannot, and it can do many other things better than the current Word version.


Based on your rule-of-thumb, you're well due for a new computer.
I'm in charge of IT here and every computers does the same speed test when I unbox it, a 3dsMax rendering.
If I look at my small database, an Athlon XP2600+ went through it in 21 minutes a PIV 2.6 in 16 minutes, an Athlon64 3000+ in 13 minutes and the last that came in, a Core 2 Duo E6600 did it in less than 4 minutes).

Matt Stachoni

I would ask what software do you use daily and consider to be "Good enough?" And is any of it from Autodesk?

I don't mean to bash the good folks at the 'desk, of course, but what we have now, and what we COULD have in the future are so far apart as to be beyond comparison. Particularly at this juncture.

When you look at the promise of BIM (that is, the actual true potential, not what's in the marketing brochure), combined with the advent of true 64-bit computing, we are on the verge of breaking many, many software chains that currently bind (or at least irritate the bejeezus out of) us.

I recently saw a live demonstration where a company had modeled the city of London - the entire city, buildings, roads, bridges, rivers, trees, you name it - in 3ds max 9 running on 64-bit Vista. The model was a whopping 6GB (yes, that's 6 GIGABYTES), and it loaded, panned and orbited like a 50K SketchUp model. Jaws collectively dropped, and you don't see that too often anymore.

With that kind of exponential computing power at our fingertips, the kinds of limitations we have right now will simply disappear. 64-bit computing will expand to the network soon enough and you will see truly Enterprise worthy design applications emerge that turn our current favorite app into the digital equivalent of an etch-a-sketch.

Now, I very much agree that the forced new release a year cycle we Autodesk Subscription customers face is sheer madness. Too much of a good thing too fast is not healthy, and most of the past offerings could have used a good 3 more months of baking before being released. I would advocate an option to Subscription members to go on a two-year cycle, which would probably be a lot easier for companies to deal with.

But there aren't any apps I've ever used that I would consider to be "good enough."


As long as we're strolling down memory lane, the "disruption" of double-sided disks boosted floppy capacity from DOS1's single-sided 160k (1981) to DOS1.1's double-sided 320k in 1982 -- subsequently bumped up to 360k under DOS2 in 1983. The 1.2MB floppy drive
"disruption" of 1984 was the introduction of "quad-density" to the disk form-factor that was then already double-sided.

On the subject of WordPerfect for Windows -- likely one of the worst software products ever brought to market -- many observers believe that product was intentionally bad, because WP hoped/wanted Windows to fail.

The larger issue regarding upgrades and disruptions is that early adopters and power users (like you, Ralph -- or me, for that matter) almost always see a loss of productivity in new versions with new interfaces. The intended beneficiaries are the millions of new users who couldn't or wouldn't master the arcana of the earlier version/interface (iow, the vast number of folks for whom the current/old version is not yet "good enough").

To follow your logic back to square one, if Alan Turing were alive and blogging today would he protest the "needless upgrades" of assembly language, ASCII and keyboards? To Turing, after all, toggling machine-code instructions in base32-arithmetic directly into the switch banks of his 1940s Colossus computer certainly was "good enough."



True for the IBM PC, but for the Victor 9000 that I owned, its floppy drives handled 600KB out of the box in 1983, and could be bumped to 1.2MB by soldering a wire on the diskette drive controller board.

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