by May 5, 2003 0 comments

The quality of output from hardware devices has noticeably improved with the focus now being on quality rather on than the underlying technology. Software still has to catch up on this front

One of the advantages of the job I have is that I get to see quite a lot of products up real close, often before they are launched. And, the price that I have to pay for this privilege is that I have to often sit through presentations on the products and their intended usage. These presentations let me in to the thinking process and the technology behind products. And, truth be told, it lets me take a few pot shots at the presenters. Another good thing that comes out of these presentations is that once in a while, I am able to influence the pricing of the product.

The last two years had been fairly dismal on the product front with hardly any innovation or even a bright spark of an idea in many of the products that I had seen in action. But, that seems to have passed. I am now seeing a change for the better in the products that are coming out. This change is more in hardware products than in software. 

This change that I am talking about is not so much in pure technologies, but in the deliverables of the technologies themselves.

That is, the change is in the user experience and the quality of output than in anything else. Again, the change is so gradual that one is likely to miss it, unless one looks for it carefully.

Simply put, today’s products give much better quality of output than ever before. Since I am talking about quality of output, obviously, most of it is happening in the personal space.

Take a simple example. Today’s printers give you much better prints than before. Photo-quality is a reality and not a dream any more. And no one screams from the rooftops about dpi or RET 2.0.3 or whatever. The quality is there for you to judge and it is good. End of story! 

Printers, MP3 players, digital cameras, the list of products that are now providing a much better output is quite long. The good thing is that they are doing it without anymore singing and dancing about the 
underlying technology. These products have reached a level where they are delivering. 

Switch to the software front and, unfortunately, we are still caught in the more-hype-than-substance era. They talk of trustworthy computing, but to date, there is no reduction in the number of critical and security patches that come out for operating systems and applications. If anything, their numbers are on the increase. Anyone who has any product remotely useable for software development talks of Web services, but I do not see any evidence of Web services happening any time soon. Spam has become the curse of almost every e-mail user, but there seems to be no remedies to that in sight either. Years back we heard that the IP 4 address space was about to be exhausted and that IPV6 was the way to go. The situation seems to be the same even today. We are still using IP 4 addressing, and there are really no commercial installations of IPV6 worth talking about. 

It is high time that software vendors take a leaf out of the books of their hardware counterparts, and stand up and be measured on performance rather than on tall promises or empty hype.

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