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Developed software is released for public use in several different ways. Depending on its intended use by commercial entities or individuals, the creator of a software program may choose to license it for resale, offer it to the masses for free, or advertise it as an add-on feature for existing applications. Commercial-off-the-shelf software – usually abbreviated as COTS – specifically refers to software programs that are ready for immediate use. These products are generally made available for commercial use through a licensing agreement.
Most of the COTS-based software systems are created to be compatible with the commonly used operating systems such as Windows, Linux, or Mac. These programs include filing systems, memory management, game engines, graphic designs, smartphone apps, and special drivers for monitors and printers.
Why These Software Programs Are Popular
Because the developer earns a royalty or substantial one-time payoff for introducing the software for sale – the distribution usually being handled by an outside party – the programs are generally quite affordable. This means that commercial and private users can purchase the desired software program for a nominal fee. The choice of purchasing a specific program is based on the need for more reliable data entry or transfer, better storage capability, or ease of displaying data. In other words, the amount paid to purchase the software is rapidly offset by the increase in business efficiency. In the end, overhead costs are lowered substantially simply by purchasing a specialized program.
Development And Distribution
Companies that are in business to help others increase their work efficiency often turn to an outside party for help in designing a program. An example would be a website developer. This type of company looks at the client portfolio and draws up a plan for creating a content-rich, visually appealing website that stands apart from what is displayed by the competition. Even though the website development company is staffed by professional designers, the task of creating software is often handed off to a third party.
In the above example, the program written for the client is very specific. However, the experts who create these software codes often develop more generalized software programs that can be used by millions of clients. This is an example of COTS software. The license to sell the product en masse can mean a tremendous amount of income for the developer.
Major Benefits Of COTS Software Programs
These ready-made applications are available at a low cost to the consumer or commercial entity. The initial cost is therefore negligible when compared to the potential increase in business. In addition, the reliability of the software is quickly known because the program is being used by a huge number of individuals or companies. Once it becomes apparent that the software is indeed a positive investment, word gets around and the product sells even faster.
Unlike some of the specialized software programs developed for use customized applications, COTS software is ready for immediate use by anyone operating a Windows or other popular system. It does not matter whether the end-user is a travel agent, warehouse distribution center, or home-based business owner. The product works fine regardless of where it is installed. For example, a well-designed product cataloguing system will appeal to quite a large segment of the business population.
Because every business sector relies on computers and mobile devices, the marketplace itself will drive the industry of developed software. COTS-based software programs do not rely on the software industry itself for success, but rather the general marketplace.
Some Disadvantages Of COTS
The major problem encountered by those who purchase ready-made software programs is one of vulnerability. Even though the program runs as intended, it may not have been developed in a manner that is interpreted as safe by the end-user’s computer security systems. An antivirus program may not recognize the software unless special steps have been taken by the developing company.
Another potential problem lies within the software’s coding. Because these programs sometimes allow users to link between websites or connect to outside parties via the Internet, the software itself could prove to be a weak link in the security chain. The software could be a very soft indeed, allowing unwanted malware or roaming bots to enter into the computer network.
Some COTS programming is sold for use on a single hard drive. The information may not be transferred or used by others. Many operating systems are sold for use on a single computer, and although discounts are given when many computer terminals are purchased at once, the upgrading procedures that follow in later years can prove to be overly expensive.
The vendors who supply the software may go out of business. This makes customer support impossible unless the developer has the rights to choose a new distributor. In many cases, the software program becomes unavailable in the future, and there is no way for the end-user to resolve any functionality problems that may occur.