Software companies throughout the world are taking note of moves in Europe to subject software to the same consumer protection standards as other goods, such as cars and home appliances. My firm has just written a written alert on it.
Some of the proposals include making manufacturers legally liable for software code and enforcing the provision of a two-year working guarantee. The proposal does sound attractive--after all, since my toaster is increasingly going to have software in it, shouldn't software be judged on performance like a toaster? My toaster looks the same as when my mom bought hers a quarter of a century ago, but Windows was not even around then.
I think this new legislation, if passed, will cause some major issues:
• The software industry will never operate the same way. Gone are the days where software could be written in a garage by two guys. • Be prepared to see 2009 software being rolled out in 2011 only after extensive testing. This probably means no new games for the next two years. • Open source software will cave in over worries over liability. • Freeware/shareware will be decimated. • Mid-sized companies will opt not to sell in Europe to avoid liability issues.
The Business Software Association has already weighed in with its views. Let's hear from small and open source computer coders on their views about this.