BillG: Hardware will be almost free

Poor Bill has taken a hammering for a quote pulled out of context in a recent speech, where he was claiming that hardware costs will become insignificant, not that hardware will be “too cheap to meter.” (Bill, if you’ve got one of those nifty Bluetooth keyboard/mouse combinations sitting around, you’ve got my address…).

What is true is that the cost per CPU process (MIPS or gigaflops or whatever you like to measure) is going down, but software always seems to find a way to bloat and get more sluggish to keep up with it. On the hardware side, Bill Machrone had a PC Magazine column about once a year where he observed his dream machine still cost about $3,000. My dream notebook still costs $4,500, 10 years after it first cost that much.

But software is a different matter, and here are some ideas that should be worrying Bill. Hardware is likely to be a relatively constant cost, and software costs will always exist for development, installation, configuration, maintenance and customization. But some software, once written, ought not need to be written again.

Hard facts for software. “Bill Gates says hardware will be almost free. But CNET News.com’s Michael Kanellos says software is more likely to go that way.” Link from CNET News.com

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.