I should probably clarify my position on operation systems and software. Basically I don’t like most of them. The whole realm of computing is vastly overpriced and has been for years. A car steering wheel doesn’t cost more than the engine its steering so why should my OS cost more than say, my hard-drive. Even my hard drive and processor combined barely equals the cost of Windows XP Pro. Now, I do realize the serious amounts of overhead involved with actually making an operating system. There are major issues that need to be confronted along the way, testing that needs to be done, compatability issues, more testing, all sorts of things. And while I take all of those things into consideration I still can’t think of justification for such a hefty price tag, which at this point is my only beef with XP in general. It’s actually quite a nice OS, I really enjoy it. I also enjoy Halflife and it was only $50 when it came out. But I can hear you saying “a game is a tad bit less involved than an OS.” True, but my OS has more bugs, so which code was written better? The same rules apply for other applications as well. Adobe Photoshop is the perfect example of a program that shouldn’t be as expensive as it is. It’s the most popular graphics application in the world, millions of copies sold, huge fan base. So why is it MORE EXPENSIVE than the operating system it runs on? I dunno either. It’s certainly not more valuable and useful than the $300 OS or the $50 game. The whole issue is confusing and fustrating. I’m not usually one to sacrifice quality for a cheaper price, so I don’t mind paying more in most circumstances, but there is a limit to my rational ability to over-spend on software. Personally, games should be slightly cheaper than applications which in turn should be cheaper the OSs. I wouldn’t mind paying $100 for Photoshop and $150 for an OS. That seems reasonable given the tasks they proform. But I see no difference in usefulness (read: NOT quality) between Win95 that I got for free and WinXP. None. There haven’t been $300 worth of improvements in the ideas behind an OS, just in the quality of its execution of these ideas. If the OS was truely an evolved thing, then I might be willing to spend a little… but until my computer wakes me up in the morning, turns on the coffee maker and gets me the newspaper, it’s simply not worth that much money.
Note that I’m not taking swipes at the OS itself, merely it’s price tag.
Welcome to capitalism Matt! Your comments are interesting, and valid, but I would like to add a couple of observations. Firstly, I don’t think you got Win95 for nothing – it was probably installed on a computer you bought and so the cost of the OS was reflected in the purchase price. If you buy a new system today it will probably include Win XP (beware of the home version – it truly SUCKS).
So, the bottom line is, in our society, we will pay what we (and/or the manufacturer) think is a fair price. I think it will be interesting to see what happens when you become a sucessful photographer. Will the price of your pictures simply reflect the cost of the time it took to take and process the pictures, plus materials and a small profit or will there be an additional charge because you take better pictures than Sears?
I think the same rationale can be applied to the cost of software. Any decent engineer these days is billing his time at $100/hour at the very least which means WinXP is only 3 hours worth – not a bad price really. However, I still think some software is grossly overpriced – photoshop is a perfect example (and why are upgrades so much cheaper?).
Enough from me – if you have any arguments, take them up with Chip! (He is all my fault!)
heh. unfortunately, SW engineering is a tad more involved. working off of Eric’s example, lets say that for every hour of code written, there is at least an hour or two of testing involved, meaning that you are now paying for at least two people to work on the same feature. looks like your cost per hour jumped to $100/ per person per hour * 9 hours (3 for the writer and 6 for the tester). Something like windows has I believe 3000 people on the team working on everything from base services (kernel, file system) to shell (gui). Depending on the feature written (say, a revamp of the GDI basic drawing system), testing could involve cross checking with 75 graphic cards, each with 10 driver sets, and double checking to see if those work with bus/ agp drivers that come built into the OS. The $300 you are paying (I surely hope you’re not paying #300, as any upgrade disc should do granted you have any OS since 98 laying around) could almost be considered a bargain 😉 (granted they will make up the investment (3000 devs x say, $100,000 ea.) within the first million that buy the $300 package (this is a bit of a high investment, but you get the picture). after that, it’s about 5 cents a disc and all profit. that’s why they’re in the biz.
if you think that’s messed up, you should see what game console development is like 😉
I can imagine game console development to be at the “evil” end of that stick. So, using our $100 per hour forumal, games are simply cheaper because there’s only a team of 50 or so making them? I guess that makes sense. I would wonder if the marketing machine behind games would add to the cost a bit though. Games (at least in places like EB) are pushed much much more than Windows products that basically are left to sell themselves.
And actually… I did infact get 95 for free. There was some big promotion day going and and the first X# of people in the store got a copy. Apparently no one showed up and so they were just handing them out as people walked through the door. I haven’t used it though, since a copy of win95 did indeed come in my first computer. But I do have two disks floating around here somewhere… I think…
and Mr. Marshall, I don’t have any arguments at all. I tend to agree but usually only look at one side of the coin while I “rant” on occasion. thanks for the input 🙂
Who is this Mr. Marshall person – my name is Eric, unless your name is Chip in which case there are probably several other forms of address, some of which I may answer to!
Good discussion though! Actually, I think the games are cheaper because they use a pre-written “engine” which actually generates the code. Then is just requires a relatively few “designers” who come up with the storyline and the graphic layouts. I am not very familiar with current games, but a few years ago they were notoriously “buggy” and a lot of them completely overtook the operating system which meant a re-boot everytime you were finished playing! Hopefully things have improved!
well, I was referrring more to the fact that most console makers start way in the hole given the cost to make the hardware. by the time that they are actually making back the money lost on consoles, they are already pouring money into the next iteration (although there is usually several years left in the previous one). That’s one of the reasons that Sega does games only now. they were losing a lot more money when they were making the hardware. now they just take their great game dev experience and put it towards the other consoles. Eric is right though. the actual development side is much nicer in console games: much more mature game engines, and only 1-3 fixed platforms to work with.