Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve wanted to pull up a digital jukebox to play a few songs – and the player (like iTunes 7.0) – takes 5 minutes to load because now – its got to load the iTunes store, the CD backup engine, the CD copier engine and what have you. Basically, if you want to do a small specific thing in a software, current conventional design compels the entire software with all the bells and whistles to load before you can start using it.

Most software today is designed to do specific things in a very broad sense. For e.g. from a pure usability standpoint, we have software that does word processing ( MS Word), spreadsheet (MS Excel) or presentations (Powerpoint). But the important thing to note is that all these software packages do all of these things in an extremely broad sense. To come back to the example of iTunes – it not only plays tunes stored in your computer but it also allows you to buy music from the online store, it burns CDs, it copies music from CD’s, its got an online component that searches for Album Art of the music you are playing etc. And not all the features of the software are needed by a user all the time.

Therefore, logic only follows, that one of the ways that software can be made more customizable – is it to be designed as self contained, self executing modules – that link together seamlessly, but, which can operate in its own silo.

Case in point, Microsoft Word – most people who use Word – use it for some basic purposes – writing word documents with some elementary formatting. Most people dont even move from the default Times New Roman font to another one. Or embed pictures. Or use voice commands to transcribe their notes. They just open and type. Maybe use Crtl-C or Crtl – V every now and then. Then why dont we have a Word Basic – which captures the most commonly used modules and functionality within Word – that would take 3 seconds to start up – and which would seamlessly combine with a Word Advanced – which would only get executed if a user requires a particular functionality encapsulated there.

Its an elementary question around usability of software. For e.g. It is assumed all users need the same flavor of Word – with all its bills and whistles. Thing is though, only a very small percentage of users use that functionality. And a vast majority of users are made to suffer the burden of using increasingly bulky and unwieldly software for that purpose.

I am surprised noone got that – even the car manufacturers have gotten it. The Honda Accord – comes in 4 different flavours, last count- with the same trim. The idea is I could want to buy a 4 door Honda Accord sedan in 4 different flavors of upgrades.

Then, why, even if I choose to buy Microsoft Office XP Professional ( or Apple iTunes), I dont have the option of having different flavors of startups installed on my machine?

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