Download Size Still Matters

Is it just me, or has the size of downloadable software ballooned ridiculously over the past few years?

Call me old school, but this bothers me.  It’s like some developers assume their software is so damn good that it’s okay if it takes a long time for you to download it.  Their software is so fantastic that it deserves to occupy a ton of space on your hard drive.

Yes, I know, hard drive space is cheap, and high-speed internet is supposedly everywhere these days.  But that’s not the point. 

The point is this: if you’re a desktop developer, then your software has to compete with web applications.  You know, those applications that you run by simply typing a URL into the address bar?

Can you imagine typing www.google.com into your address bar and then waiting for a couple hundred megabytes to download before you could use it?  Can you imagine visiting a web site that required you to reboot your computer?  Or one that required you to install a ton of updates before you could visit it?  How popular do you think these sites would be?

If you’re a desktop developer, don’t make the mistake of thinking your software only competes against other bloated desktop applications.  It also has to compete with web applications that don’t require downloading anything

The days when you could get away with a 100+MB download just to try out your software are long gone.  You want to stay competitive?  Shrink your download and streamline your install.  Make the download so miniscule that trying it out is a no-brainer. 

PS: The latest FeedDemon 3.0 beta is a 3.4MB download :)

5 thoughts on “Download Size Still Matters

  1. Lucky you used Delphi then! For all it’s failings (or mostly it’s owning companies failings), Delphi is still the best way to build traditional desktop Windows applications.

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  2. A couple of years ago I switched to a Mac, and unfortunately huge download sizes are a fact of life for Apple followers since they need to include both x86 code and PowerPC code (for universal apps). That being said, a lot more could be done to shrink apps down and I appreciate it when developers put the effort in. One of Firefox’s aims when it launched was to be as small a download as possible – I think the 1.0 was a mere 4 megabytes. Firefox 3.0.0.10 has swelled out a bit to 7 MB (Windows build) but it’s still relatively compact when compared with programs like Quicktime and Adobe Reader.

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  3. When I first started releasing Macintosh software, I didn’t know the best method to create a .DMG disk image for users to download my application. As a result I had a few angry customers who complained my app was too big because the disk image mounted as a 5MB volume, even though the actual size of the download was under 500k!

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