Is unmaintained software worse?

I often mention that software had not been updated in a long time or development was stopped in downsides section of posts. On other hand plenty of software titles I can wholeheartedly recommend are plain ancient and hadn’t been touched by developer in years.

What’s up with that? Development or lack of one is not always clearly cut plus or minus for the app.

Environment changes

New versions of Windows are inevitable. It may not seem like much changes from version to version, but take few versions apart and difference can be drastic.

It does not help at all when Microsoft decides to “educate” developers to write software better and end users pay by having to use such resulting gems as Vista was.

Active development includes testing for current OS versions and making changes as needed. Lack of active development includes hoping (hard) that piece of software is decently coded or at least replaceable.

Progress

Few software titles are perfect. Even if core function gets performed flawlessly, there are other aspects that can be poked to make it work faster, more stable and with less drag on system.

It is unlikely that good result is there right from 1.0 version. It takes any software plenty of incremental updates to build on first release and get to that stage when users get drooly and dreamy about title.

Regress

Just as easy updates can drive app into the ground. Not as usual… But it happens that feature bloat and developers thinking their product is not making them filthy rich fast enough make software worse instead of better.

It is not that hard to stop updating at specific version, but it is rarely convenient and confidence-inspiring.

Rule of a thumb

There are some types of software for which “actively developed” is the only choice to make. Mostly this is security-related stuff and apps that deal with rapidly evolving third party things (such as protocols and media codecs).

In other cases well maintained app from competent developers is good choice, but not always available. Nothing wrong with picking good enough.

Overall

Modern software is often defined by marketing and reputation more than pure functional merit.

Do you think that active development is critical part of success? Does lack of that development discourage you from using an app?

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3 Comments

  • Does lack of that development discourage you from using an app?

    Yes, because it usually means if the OS has a massive (or even minor) change, getting the app fixed will be like having a toenail pulled.

    I don’t mind ‘We’re not adding new features to the app, but we will break/fix’ though I worry when new tech shows up and the app can’t adapt to it.

  • @Ipstenu

    True, but some old apps work just fine on anything from WinXP (if not earlier) to Win7…

    I guess it is about scope. The simpler app is, the more likely it is survive following Windows versions.

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