Software is a strange and amusing phenomenon. You won’t be able to touch it, but you will be able to purchase it. It weighs little, yet it requires the labor of dozens or even hundreds of people to construct. And there are instances when things simply don’t work out.
There will always be winners and losers, no matter how clear your specifications, how thorough your market research, or how well-optimized your code is. Occasionally, a rival enters the market and offers something superior. Other times, unforeseeable situations render your software ineffective or out of date entirely. On rare occasions, firms just mess things up to the point that no patch can salvage the situation.
Crawling through the annals of computer history, let’s look at examples of software launches that went disastrously wrong. Some of the most well-known brands in the business are represented here, like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, demonstrating that there is always a second opportunity to prove yourself. There’s a chance for a third and even a fourth if you play your cards well. Some of the other development companies on this list, on the other hand, were forced to close their doors when their software failed miserably.
When it comes to software projects, modularity is essential, and Apple wanted to be a part of that movement in the late 1990s. When the OpenDoc project was born, it seemed to be a brilliant idea: design robust, reusable single-task components and allow developers to mix and interweave them to create apps.
The unfortunate reality for everyone concerned was that those components were memory hogs to the extreme—just the text editor alone took 2MB of RAM, which was a significant amount of memory in 1997. In addition, documents written in OpenDoc were incompatible with other major software platforms, making it impossible to exchange and update your work across many platforms. Apple discontinued the platform less than a year after it was introduced, citing a reluctance to throw additional money down the drain.
Microsoft Bob is a fictional character created by Microsoft in the year 2000.
It is true that Microsoft has been one of the most influential influences in the way we use computers, but it is also unavoidable that much of Windows was ripped off from Apple’s macOS operating system. When Bill Gates and his team decided to put their own twist on a user-friendly operating system in 1995, it turned out to be a complete and total catastrophe for everyone involved.
Microsoft Bob was a curiously happy beginner operating system that sold for over $100 and included a variety of animated “guides” who talked you through your first few hours of computing. However, despite the extensive advertising, the system’s technical requirements were expensive, and the applications supplied were unsophisticated. An interesting piece of trivia: Bob was the inspiration for the much despised Comic Sans font, which was never utilized.
Cobalt is the color of the Palm OS.
PDAs (personal digital assistants) dominated the market for pocket-sized technology devices long before smartphones became popular. When it came to handheld computers in the 1990s, PalmPilot seemed unbeatable, but a series of corporate acquisitions and restructuring finally brought the firm to its knees.
When it came time for Palm to upgrade its old operating system, the firm’s OS Cobalt was developed to take the business into the next generation of computing. As a result, the PDA had become obsolete by this time, and Cobalt was unable to gain any licensees in 2004. Palm then planned to concentrate its efforts on building a Linux operating system, but this never materialized, and the firm has since gone out of business.
Netscape 6 is a web browser developed by Netscape Communications Corporation.
In the late 1990s, the browser wars were a fiercely contested battleground, with Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator serving as the two primary rivals. Microsoft introduced Internet Explorer 4 in 1997, and it was included with all new Windows installations at the time. It was unquestionably the most advanced version of its browser to date, and the world awaited Netscape’s response. And then I waited. And then I waited.
Meanwhile, Netscape had made the core of their browser, which would later become Firefox, available as open source code on GitHub. That didn’t help it get a new version out, and when it eventually launched in November 2000 (they skipped 5.0 in the meantime), Navigator 6.0 (they skipped 5.0 in the interval) was a bloated, buggy disaster that couldn’t even be run on midrange PCs at the time of release. With that unfortunate release, Netscape began its long and ignominious descent into the trash of browser history.
Windows Vista is a personal computer operating system.
The release of an operating system is a major affair. Microsoft and Apple devote a great deal of effort into each new version of Windows and macOS, and a great deal is riding on their success. So it’s incredible that Windows Vista turned out to be such a disastrous failure.
Vista, which was released in 2007 to replace the outdated Windows XP operating system, failed to perform well in almost every test. It was bulky (it had 50 million lines of code, compared to XP’s 40 million lines) and buggy; a large number of pre-existing applications didn’t even operate in it. Long-time users expressed dissatisfaction with the OS, claiming that it lost functionality that they had grown to like.
Most of all, many just didn’t understand why it was required in the first place. Microsoft Windows XP had an installed base of around 800 million PCs, and those customers were still generally satisfied with it.
Internet Explorer 6 is the latest version of the browser.
Do you remember when Internet Explorer was the most popular web browser on the market? All of it came crashing down when Microsoft defeated Netscape to become the dominant browser. Because there was no direct competition anymore, Internet Explorer got complacent, and the consequence was the widely used, but forever hated, Internet Explorer 6, which was introduced in 2001.
This particular version of the browser does not support contemporary web standards, which effectively halted web development for many years at the time of release. There were other security flaws in it as well, which Microsoft was sluggish to fix, resulting in many problems never being completely remedied.
As a result of these issues, Mozilla was able to release Firefox the next year and acquire traction in the market far more quickly than otherwise. By the time Microsoft introduced Internet Explorer 7 in 2006, there was genuine competition once again.
It was a huge year for internet giants to launch their own social networking networks in the early 2010s, and Google was no stranger to the attempt. The corporation has previously attempted to launch a number of enterprises in the field, each of which had been less successful than the last. Instead of acting as a “network,” Google+ served as a “layer” that was shared across all Google products, including Google Drive, Blogger, and YouTube.
The program, which debuted in 2011, has features that (hypothetically) may compete with Facebook’s market domination. The only difficulty was that no one took advantage of it. While originally claimed to be competitive, it was later discovered that these statistics had been inflated by everyone who signed up for any Google service, regardless of how small the number was.
In light of the fact that user involvement is often measured in minutes or even seconds, Google dramatically overhauled the service in order to reduce clutter and turn it toward a “interest-based social experience.” This did little to encourage people to actually utilize the site, and as a result, it was scheduled to be shut down.
Perhaps the most infamous incident with Google+ was the exposure of personal information of 52 million users, which led to the company’s decision to shut down four months early in 2019.
Screenshot from Yahoo!
When Yahoo! Screen first launched in 2006, it was a video-hosting service named Yahoo! Video. In 2011, it changed its name to Yahoo! Screen to reflect its shift to streaming content. In its first year, the new enterprise debuted with just eight original programming and a meager selection of extra material. You’re undoubtedly familiar with the service since it allowed Community to have one more season or because it broadcast an NFL game.
By 2016, no one was utilizing the service, and Yahoo! decided to shut it down after taking a $42 million write-down on the business. As a result, Yahoo! teamed with Hulu to launch Yahoo! View, which will broadcast current episodes of popular ABC, NBC, and Fox television series until the year 2019.
Ping from iTunes
The key paradox of Apple’s business model is that the corporation manages to strike a balance between hardware excellence and software ineptitude. iPods and iPhones are fantastic devices. iTunes is a complete and utter disaster. As a result, when the corporation announced in 2010 that it will enter the social-networking industry with Ping, customers weren’t overjoyed with their expectations.
The program was designed to pair persons with similar musical likes, however you could only choose from three different musical genres to be matched with. To make things worse, within a day of its introduction, Ping was besieged with spam accounts and individuals posing as renowned artists in order to promote their own songs. It was shut down by Apple in 2012.
Windows 8 is a personal computer operating system.
The much-loved Windows 7 was Microsoft’s follow-up to Vista, but the company eventually fell short once again with Windows 8. After missing out on the tablet craze, Microsoft attempted to make amends by developing an operating system that could be used on both desktop computers and mobile devices.
As revolutionary as it may have been, Windows 8 brought a number of design modifications that made it more tablet-friendly while making it more difficult to manage on a traditional computer screen. Many people were opposed to the elimination of the Start button, and adoption was slower than anticipated.
Combined with the fact that customers were beginning to purchase more phones and tablets than home PCs, Windows 8 struggled to keep up with the competition. Microsoft responded fast to criticism by releasing Windows 8.1 as a free upgrade the following year, and there’s a good reason for doing so. The only thing they wanted was their Start button back. With the release of Windows 10, Windows 8 is all but a distant memory.
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