* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

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Successful Software

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Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

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BreezeTree Software

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Bingo Card Creator

Worth continuing an app that Microsoft solves?

I've almost finished a smallish app for Windows Vista and 7 that filled a need in those OSes, and I was very happy with the progress of it.  There's a big demand for the app's functionality, as evidenced by Googling.  Other solutions by other companies also do it.

Now I found out that Windows 8 does it natively.  Based on this fact, is it worth continuing my project, or should I just forget it?  Or should I just market it to Vista/7 users only?

Basically, would a standalone app have a future against a native OS function?  The functionality is exactly the same as the OS... so I don't see why people with Windows 8 would pay for it, but maybe Vista/7 users would.

Thoughts?
Harry Phace Send private email
Friday, January 25, 2013
 
 
Hard to say Harry without further info - but if this is a genuinely useful product that you have already written, what have you got to lose?
Something like 30% of global windows users are still using XP (that's from memory - don't quote me), and personally I think the move to 8 from 7 will be even more leisurely for many, so on that basis there's going to be a decent sized market for a while.
Matthew Fender Send private email
Friday, January 25, 2013
 
 
"The functionality is exactly the same as the OS... "

Can't you add/change something so it's no longer exactly the same?

And as Matthew said, there are plenty of users who won't upgrade to Windows 8 at any time soon.
handzhiev Send private email
Friday, January 25, 2013
 
 
I've noticed that on the Mac platform there are thousands of apps that just are wrappers for some open source project, or that simply have a script that calls some system files.

So yeah, if you can improve the usability of some OS provided functions, it seems you can make a business of it.
Scott Send private email
Friday, January 25, 2013
 
 
As others have said; it seems like migration to Win 8 is slow so you may have quite a bit of time to try the market before it starts diminishing.

Even then there are examples of apps that do something that's built into the OS, but do it better and are profitable.

Personally I'd always install WinZip even though Windows has had native zip for years.

If you were starting from scratch now I might advise against it but since you've invested the time in (almost) finishing the product I'd say go for it.

But once it's out you should start differentiating it if it isn't better  / different already. Make people think... "O wow, this it just how it should work in Windows 8".

Perhaps this will even work in your favour somewhat; people who refuse to move to Win 8 (like me) will learn of this great new feature, wish it was in Win 7 & go looking for you. Might be worth looking at keywords for that kind of customer for seo / adwords.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Saturday, January 26, 2013
 
 
Harry Phace > Now I found out that Windows 8 does it natively.  Based on this fact, is it worth continuing my project, or should I just forget it?

Ideally, you should find out from current users whether the MS app lacks important features that your app provides, which means that they will keep paying for your app.

Back in 1997, NetManage dumped EccoPro because they thought they had no chance against Outlook.
Fast forward to 2012, and there are still thousands of users world-wide using that application because no one has implemented its in-place outliner and very flexible data model.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecco_Pro

Niche is fine for a small business.
ZeFred Send private email
Saturday, January 26, 2013
 
 
ZeFred: No, Microsoft now does exactly what I do.  So, my market would definitely be only Windows Vista and 7 users now.  Oh well.
Harry Phace Send private email
Sunday, January 27, 2013
 
 
"I've almost finished a smallish app for Windows Vista and 7 that filled a need in those OSes"
Don't stop now,  and don't delay any more than necessary.  The experience of successfully completing this program is worth something to you professionally, and there is still a market for it, so whatever your sales end up being is more revenue (and more recouped development expense) than you will get if you kill it now.

Any money you spend on marketing should be based on a reasonable probability of positive ROI in any case.  If you reversed the situation, and developed a product for a future version of Windows, your risk of failure would be much higher.  Just don't count on this app to provide for your retirement fund, and start looking for your next project as soon as this one is complete.
Howard Ness Send private email
Sunday, January 27, 2013
 
 
Good advice from Howard.

Harry, once everyone switches to Windows 8 some years hence, come back and tell us what your app was and what it did.

(Btw, as someone said, don't forget all the remaining XP users...of which I am one).
Racky Send private email
Sunday, January 27, 2013
 
 
I've gone and released it, and submitted it to Softpedia and MajorGeeks too (since they test all apps instead of blindly accepting them); and if/when I make a sale, I'll come and reveal what it was.

Don't really want to yet because I couldn't handle the laughter if you think it's stupid; but if I've got at least one sale behind it, then I can laugh back at you and say it was worth it.  :)  Not that it sells for much, mind you.  Under $10, but still, it's the principle.
Harry Phace Send private email
Monday, January 28, 2013
 
 
Its good you went ahead and released it. I actually see think it's an opportunity if a later version has some things earlier versions don't.

If its a product with a long upgrade cycle, and I can't think of anything with a longer upgrade cycle than Windows for most people, then it may be an opportunity to 'back port' interesting functionality.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Monday, January 28, 2013
 
 
TrippinOnIT > Its good you went ahead and released it. I actually see think it's an opportunity if a later version has some things earlier versions don't.

True it might be a source of ideas than can be implemented in earlier versions, if you can find any that do not already exist as apps. Microsoft seem to work in the opposite way, they source their ideas from existing 3rd party apps and then include them in the next version of the OS!
Matthew Fender Send private email
Monday, January 28, 2013
 
 
The function was in every Windows up to XP, then removed from Vista and 7, and brought back for 8 due to public demand. Not a big feature, tiny actually; but I only bought Windows 7 a couple of weeks ago and missed it, so I wrote an app to do it.

Then I found Windows 8 brought it back. Damn. :(
Harry Phace Send private email
Monday, January 28, 2013
 
 
Is it the UP button on the explorer toolbar? ;)
exim Send private email
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
 
 
Could well be.  :)
Harry Phace Send private email
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
 
 
> Is it the UP button on the explorer toolbar?

Luckily Alt + Up Arrow works. I typically use the mouse in Explorer, though, so it's still a nuisance.
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
 
 
If it really is an Up button, I would consider paying for that! I have missed it since XP. The breadcrumb navigation in Vista/7 (while nice) is not a complete replacement for that button.
Shawn O'Hern Send private email
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
 
 
Why does Microsoft take out obvious winners like that in the first place?  (I guess the answer to that is similar to the reason Google has made a number of, to me, heinous UI changes to Gmail and whatnot. )
Racky Send private email
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
 
 
Shawn, how much is an app like that worth to you?  I've set my price and launched (in addition to a second app), so I'm curious.  :)
Harry Phace Send private email
Saturday, February 09, 2013
 
 
Shawn, you'll be pleased to know that my "up button" app is now free, so have a look if you're like me and want that functionality back.  Link in my other "re-launch" post.  :)
Harry Phace Send private email
Saturday, February 16, 2013
 
 

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