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Thu 1 Feb 2007 11:18 AM

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Secret CIO laments rise of the version 1.0 culture

Last month I experienced a sinking sensation that I suspect was common among many parents around the world.

Last month I experienced a sinking sensation that I suspect was common among many parents around the world.

It's that unpleasant feeling that you're going to end up spending a lot of money on something which almost certainly isn't worth the paper the international warranty is printed on.

The money-pit in question was the new Apple iPhone, the launch of which sent The Brat into convulsions of material envy and desire. Even the sight of a middle-aged uber-Geek such as Steve Jobs dancing around like a demented puppet was not enough to deter my son from this latest piece of techno-bling.

"You know it's not going to be here until 2008, don't you?" I asked The Boy, with a glimmer of hope in my voice. "But I want it NOOOOAW," rose the plaintive wail, with my pride and joy reverting almost a decade in age. "You go to America lots, dad - you can get one there."

Leaving aside the niceties of also having to subscribe to a two-year cellphone contract, I still am not enamoured with the thought of buying a first-generation piece of kit, which is almost certainly going to be superseded in 18 months by something which is cheaper, faster and smaller.

One expects this with consumer technology - see, LCD televisions, DVD players and regular mobile phones if you doubt it. But what is sad is that we're still experiencing much the same process in enterprise IT.

Luckily for us, the timescales are not as severe as in the commercial electronics sector, but even so, IT managers are forced to swallow some pretty shoddy first-generation products - and are then told to like them.

The worst part is that pressure to be bowled over by half-baked systems and to see any shortcomings in the product as unrealistic expectations or - worse - inadequacies within one's own organisation. Since when should we mould our companies around some pimply-faced youth's idea of what an IT system should do?

Two recent potential albatrosses lumber into my mind when I think of half-baked potential: Windows Vista, and Oracle's Fusion project. Now don't get me wrong - both of these may end up being fantastic tools; but I have a feeling that, as of version 1.0, both may lack a certain something.

Going on Microsoft's previous OS track record, we can expect Vista to come with some depressingly glaring security holes; this is leaving aside the truly staggering minimum system requirements needed to get it going.

And as for Fusion, Oracle's vainglorious attempt to align its vast number of acquisitions does not strike me as the easiest project to bring to completion - especially as it was started before a number of key purchases.

With both, time will no doubt tell. But, just as when I - inevitably - fork out a face-paling chunk of my income for an iPhone plus useless two-year contract, it will no doubt be us first-generation users that do the telling.

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