osOpinion: Gloatware: The plague of the software industry

[ Thanks to Kelly
for this link. ]

“Gloatware is when a software company believes that their
product is so mind-bogglingly useful that it can come onto your
computer and mess with it with impunity. The phenomenon of
bloatware is just a special case of this more general malaise.
Bloatware is caused by software companies thinking, `obviously, our
product is so earth-shatteringly amazing that users will be *happy*
to donate the majority of their hard disk space to house it’. Hear
them gloat!…”

“These days, there are many column inches, both online and
offline, given over to discussion of Linux and the Open Source/
Free Software movement generally. Open Source is attacking
Microsoft on many fronts, but where does it stand on gloatware?
It’s difficult to judge at the moment. The developer and user bases
of Open Source software overlap to a far greater degree than they
do on the Windows or Macintosh platforms. Open Source developers
are designing applications for users very much like themselves;
people who, in general, have a strong utilitarian streak and an
aversion to anything needlessly flashy. Gloatware doesn’t cut it in
this environment. The Open Source movement also draws much of its
design philosophy from the Unix command shell environment: a
philosophy of small, tightly-focussed tools co-operating with one
another to produce a whole greater than the sum of its parts. An
application in this environment that behaves like your average
commercial Windows application– elbowing its way to the front
shouting, `look at me! look at me!’– is going to get short shrift
from the current breed of Open Source users. The user will either
discard the app or hack the source to remove the more obnoxious
features. But what will happen as Open Source moves into new
markets, as the Open Source equivalents of Word and Excel mature?
Most Open Source players are in it for peer recognition rather
than for the money. Could the desire for kudos lead Open Source
developers to emulate their commercial counterparts and invent
as-yet-unimagined ways of annoying their users with allegedly
`kewl’ features? Only time will tell.