Saturday, 10 March 2012

Don't get suckered into losing your freedom

As a software developer it's easy to think that we won't get fooled by unscrupulous software vendors, unlike the mere mortals (non-developers). For normal people, it's so easy to get tricked - proprietary software using proprietary databases and protocols often may seem attractive at first (flashy sales brochures and fast talking, acronym spitting sales people), but when they later find out they've been lured into putting all their data into a system where they can't get it back out, only then do they learn to check whether it's as easy to get out as it is to get in (although some still don't learn - but that's another story). They're locked in.
It's not the only way to get fooled. They may convince you the data is exportable, but over many years of usage they gradually change your habits so that it's very hard to choose freely. Big companies like Microsoft and Apple are likely to resort to this more "stealth" type of lock-in.

We software developers are very much aware of vendor lock-in and similar practices, but do we always avoid it?