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Upgrade Costs

The why is pretty easy to answer. At Hewlett-Packard, for example, a single bug in the embedded software for one of their printers could hurt big-time. If not discovered until after product release, a bug serious enough to require a field upgrade to ROMs would cost more to fix than all the profit over the entire life of the complete product line. That is a strong incentive to get it right the first time around. So they do. No really big program is perfect, but some embedded-systems programmers turn out large programs as close to flawless as we are ever likely to achieve. Anything less is just too costly.

Maybe this is part of the problem among the Microsofts and IBMs of the world: there is not enough of an incentive to get it right, especially as long as customers are willing to put up with buggy and baroque software. The software vendors can always slip their corrections into streamed releases or just send out a version 6.0a maintenance release for the cost of the CD-ROMs or put it on the Web for you to download yourself.


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