Subject: Re: People only buy support for bad software ?!?
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 2 Jun 1999 14:52:01 -0400

   Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 14:44:00 -0400
   From: Brian Bartholomew <bb@wv.com>

   > Does anybody on this list have any actual example of a program which
   > was designed to be bad, whether from an FSB or not?

   Read Yourdon books for case studies, but here are some generalities:

None of your examples are of programs which were designed to be bad.
I didn't ask for examples of programs which were designed or written
poorly, I asked for examples in which programs were deliberately
designed to be bad, either in order to force people to pay for support
or for any other reason.

Screwing up when writing a program is one thing, intentionally writing
a bad program is something else.  You are claiming that the latter
happens, but your examples are of the former.  I agree that the former
happens a lot; in fact, that's precisely why I say that it's not
necessary for people to plan to write bad programs.

	   "Don't waste time designing first, get started writing code"

Likely a poor design choice, but no evidence that it was done in order
to produce a bad product.

	   "Quote them a deliberate underestimate to get the contract,
	   then plan to fail to deliver, then hit them with a big cost
	   overrun, and they'll be committed to pay it."

An unethical but all too common contract programming strategy for
cost-plus contracts, but no evidence that the program was written
poorly.  (Note that when I was at Cygnus, they did not normally take
cost-plus contracts for development work.  Cygnus got a fixed fee when
(and if) the program met certain criteria by a specified date.)

	   "Oh, gee, software is hard to write, I'm sorry this version
	   doesn't work, maybe the next one will work better, you should
	   keep paying us to work on it...forever"

A common enough scenario, but no evidence that the program was
intentionally written poorly.

	   "Buy Windows version x.0, then buy service pack x.1, then buy
	   a service contract, then buy a better service contract..."

Reasonable as a conspiracy theory, but with no internal supporting
evidence.

Ian