Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 21st Jul 2012 23:06 UTC
In the News Okay, so this is entirely new to me. Sparrow is was an email client for Mac OS X and iOS (and Windows), which brought a decent Gmail experience to these platforms - as opposed to Apple's own not-so-good Gmail support and Google's Gmail iOS application which, well, is just a webpage. Google has now acquired Sparrow, and basically all hell has broken loose, to the point of Rian van der Merwe writing that 'we' lost "faith in a philosophy that we thought was a sustainable way to ensure a healthy future for independent software development, where most innovation happens".
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Sure, it's unlikely that anyone will die or go bankrupt over an email client...

But companies and individuals have suffered and gone bankrupt over other more critical software. I have seen all manner of companies that at some point thought it would be a good idea to buy into some proprietary application and base their entire workflow around it, only for that company to either discontinue the product or go totally bankrupt.

So now what?

Based on examples i've actually seen...

You cannot buy additional licenses, because noone is willing to sell you them, so you cant expand easily.

You might be able to continue running the licenses you have, but it requires an ancient OS which is also no longer sold, and ancient hardware which is unreliable (old hardware dies, capacitors leak, solder joints weaken, connectors corrode etc) and now getting difficult to source on ebay.

You cannot easily migrate to something else, because all the data is stored in proprietary formats and it would be extremely costly to hire programmers to reverse engineer the formats, and doing so may not even be legal.

The current copyright holder is not willing to sell you more copies, but could still prosecute you for pirating it.

You can't just install more copies, because there is some form of license management... You'd have to crack it.

No security patches are being made, either for the software itself or the OS it runs on. You have all your important company data on a server thats a security nightmare.

All in all, it's bad business sense to buy proprietary software. At the very least, you want a second source, access to source, an easy migration plan etc. You must plan for business continuity should the worst happen to your supplier.

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