The downward spiral of bloatware

Ever notice that most useful software gradually evolves into complex, bloated junk? For example, think of Quicken. It was named Quicken because it would make it quick to balance your checkbook and see where you spend your money. Fast forward fifteen years and now we have a product that not only manages your checkbook but it also promotes overpriced loans, dubious investment advice, tax planning (!), and other things that are dangerous to your financial health. A year ago, we made the switch to Microsoft Money and it is only marginally better.

The same story applies for Microsoft Office. When was the last time you developed endnotes, a table-of-contents, and a mail merge? I have yet to meet someone who can properly design a form or use styles correctly.

I believe the bloat starts when companies listen to their users and add tons of minor features without thinking about integrating the overall goals into the product roadmap. This is why the open-source movement will never succeed in crossing the chasm in end-user software applications.

Find your niche and defend it at all costs. Don’t just add useless features that make the core product hard to use.

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