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Best piece of software in the world

February 23, 2007

Today, I wondered what was the best piece of software in the world. That sounds very ambitious, after all, it has to be better than most video games, operating systems and web services. At first, I thought about some cutting edge military research, maybe ARPANET. The precursor to Internet, is a great software device. There’s also the theoric research on particule physics going on at CERN which is driving a huge development effort on their Grid computing technology.

But these wouldn’t qualify as the all time best software product so far. They combine performance and innovation but lack in usability in my opinion . Looking at usability, I cannot help but admit that Google has successfully gathered a big user base to whom they deliver a simple yet efficient service. Their searching and sorting algorithm is a major improvement in the relevance of the results available on the web.

However, these pieces of software don’t impress as much as the recent video games. The high quality graphics and the physical engines make realistic simulations of action scenes. Engines like the one of Unreal, Doom or Half-life are reused on numerous other games, to reduce their development effort and increase the quality of the simulation. Nevertheless, the AI is still simplistic, so characters controlled by the computer don’t give much of a challenge.

The various operating systems represent a incredible complexity, there are a lot of modules with a lot of interactions, a lot of users and worse, a swarm of different configurations. The most used OS is probably the worst because of its number of defects, Linux is cool, free and open source but lack in usability and in compatibility. Mac OS is very good but doesn’t have to be compatible with a lot of different hardwares. I think it’s a great software with too few users, I’d recommend it if I had used it longer. šŸ˜‰

Finally, perhaps the most popular open source application: Mozilla Firefox. It’s nice, better than the competition. It simply makes web browsing better. A substantial part of the users are fans and the user community exchanges plugins and skins to customize Firefox. I think it would be better with less features, I like the plugins but now, I have to remember which ones I like in case I have to reinstall Firefox. Also the installation with specific themes and extensions is long and the reminding to update them at startup is annoying.

I can’t make up my mind on the best all time piece of software. It could even be a programming language like Java or a development middleware like the Qt library.

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