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Is the traditional way of software distribution dead?

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For some time, Apple has used an online model as a means to distribute software to its users, and when Microsoft announced Windows 8, it said that it was building a software store directly into the OS. Does this mean CDs and DVDs will become obsolete as a means to distribute software?

CDs, DVDs and other forms of portable media are on the way out and are swiftly being replaced by the Internet.

Evidence to this is abundantly available in the growing popularity of online software stores as a quick, easy-to-use and cost-effective enabler for software sales and delivery: and the fact that in the past year or so, the online model has started gaining the support of every major software company in the world.

‚Some big names have been there for a while,‚ says Traci Maynard, general manager of the software division at Tarsus Technologies.

‚But, the tipping point came two or so years ago, when Apple threw its weight behind the online model by building an app store directly into its desktop and notebook operating system,‚ she says.

Soon afterwards Microsoft announced it was building a software store directly into its much-vaunted Windows 8 operating system and more recently, Adobe announced its first foray into this space, allowing customers to make use of its full suite of creative software for an affordable monthly fee, enabled by the cloud.

‚We really do need to think of software distribution in the context of the smartphone and tablet revolution if we are to understand what the future holds,‚ Maynard says.

‚Do we buy software on CDs or DVDs, or even memory sticks when we want to add to the functionality of our smartphones or tablets?‚ she asks.

‚Then why should it be any different in the conventional computing space?

‚Internet connectivity in South Africa has become pretty freely available and cost-effective enough for anyone able to afford a notebook or a desktop computer. In my opinion there shouldn’t be a compelling reason why the world market, including emerging markets, isn’t able to embrace the benefits online software stores have to offer,‚ she opines.

Maynard cautions, however, that it would be naïve to believe this switch will happen overnight.

‚The online distribution model is gaining unbelievable traction, but for many users CDs and DVDs will remain the modus operandi for a couple of years to come. And this is quite simply for no other reason than conditioning.

‚There will come a time where the entire market needs to adapt though and the switch will in all likelihood begin happening in earnest over the next 18 to 24 months, with the simultaneous phasing out of traditional media.

‚It’s up to resellers, distributors and vendors to do everything they can to smooth this transition, provide vital insight for their customers and, prepare them for the changes that are coming.

‚It’s a brave new world for many of us, but one that will present numerous opportunities that are quite simply, there for the taking,‚ she concludes.

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