Software Taxes

I've heard a number of different references to 'taxes' that developers or users are or managers are paying. Here's two examples:

  • The Windows Vista Hardware Tax
  • The Power Management Tax

The first one refers to the fact that if users don't buy new hardware, they can't play with the new software toys. This could be considered a tax if a company had to upgrade their hardware because they had to upgrade to Vista because some app they used depended on it.. but this seems unlikely. Upgrading to Vista is a choice, and if your current stuff works ok, then you don't need to do it. You can't choose not to pay your taxes.

The second is more what I'd consider at tax. This tax is an incremental price you have to pay. Here's how it works:

Microsoft is releasing some new power management APIs. If your existing application does anything with the old power management APIs then you now need to schedule some time for updating your app to the new standard. This is the tax.

It's not a tax like income tax, where you pay it regularly... it's like sales tax, where the next version of your application now takes 10% longer to write, thanks to the time you have to spend that isn't being spent on your features.

But again you don't have to pay this tax. You could simply leave your app with the old power management features.

Here's a tax: Win64 requires 64 bit drivers. If you're a hardware manufacturer and you want to keep selling your hardware, then you have to create 64 bit drivers. It's a tax because it's not work you're choosing to do, and you have no choice but to do it.

Of course not paying your taxes won't land you in jail...