The value of a software ecosystem

Summary:In comments attached to last week's note about Windows ISVs the complaint was raised, who cares?You should.

In comments attached to last week's note about Windows ISVs the complaint was raised, who cares?

You should. Because the value of an operating system to you depends heavily on the software ecosystem that surrounds it.

The software ecosystem consists of every program written for a particular piece of software or hardware. These include operating system ports and reference designs in the case of hardware, and most often applications in the case of software.

It is very very hard for any company to carry a platform on its own. The more other companies contribute to that platform, by writing software that works on the platform, the more that weight is lifted off the creator's shoulders and shared by others.

Linux has a very robust software ecosystem. My point last week was that the Windows software ecosystem is weakening. The evolution of technology indicates that a weakening ecosystem presages a dying ecosystem, and then a dying product line. IBM saw this first-hand in its mainframe and minicomputer product lines.

Now IBM is attached to a large, vibrant growing ecosystem while, as I noted, that of Microsoft Windows is weakening -- becoming ever-more dependent on Microsoft itself for growth.

Does this idea of software ecology concern you at all? Where else might it be applied? Talk about it on TalkBack.

Topics: Tech Industry


Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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