Quality versus subscription

Cliff Saran's article in this week's technology section rightly bemoans the poor quality of the products we are fed by the major...

Cliff Saran's article in this week's technology section (see link, below) rightly bemoans the poor quality of the products we are fed by the major software houses. Users are forced to pay for imperfect software and then the cycle of patching and maintenance it necessitates.

Now, Microsoft's announcement that it is delaying the next release of SQL Server 2000 until the second half of next year introduces another element into the quality equation. Its decision signals an admirable intent to prioritise quality. But it casts doubt over the practicability of the subscription model, as applied to software licensing.

Good software quality and subscription licensing cannot co-exist. The subscription licensing model makes sense if users receive regular updates for their money. But when they do not, it becomes a nonsensical premise - and Microsoft's delays suggest regular updates cannot be guaranteed.

Unless products are refreshed at least every three years, and preferably every two years, subscription licensing will never be cost-effective. High-quality software takes years to develop. Yet the longer it takes for a software supplier to develop and distribute new, improved iterations of its products, the longer users find themselves subscribing to a service they are not enjoying.

Industry must cut software errors >>

Westminster asks for your views on e-laws

Computer Weekly launched its Lock Down the Law campaign last year in an attempt to co-ordinate industry efforts to persuade the government to update the UK's computer crime laws.

In particular, the campaign has pressed for a review of the Computer Misuse Act, which contains loopholes that make it difficult for the police to prosecute perpetrators of denial of service attacks.

Now there is progress to report. The Home Office has asked industry parliamentary group Eurim to examine the issue of computer crime and gather feedback from users. Until now, the way in which we dealt with computer crime has been hobbled by a hotchpotch of interested groups, outdated legislation and a lack of communication between police and the UK's business community.

This is your chance to express your views. Where should responsibility lie for tackling cybercrime? What procedures need to be in place for investigating security breaches? Only by feeding your views on these and other issues into Eurim's consultation can you hope to ensure that the UK has adequate means of dealing with cybercriminals.

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