Portability is for canoes and system software …

… at least that’s what Mr. David Gristwood says in this (otherwise excellent) entry (‘21 Rules of Thumb – How Microsoft develops its Software’) on his MSDN weblog. Davis thinks that :

Even discounting the added development burden, with the addition of each additional platform the job of QA increases substantially. While clever QA management can minimize the burden somewhat, the complexity of multi-platform support is beyond the reach of most development organizations. Place your bets. Demand multi-platform support from your system software vendor, then build your product on the absolute fewest number of platforms possible.

What kind of ‘portability’ are we talking about in the context of software development at Microsoft ? He is probably making allusions to software being developed simultaneously for desktop and pocket Windows, which is in fact quite a challlenge for QA and for the developer team. But if it’s a tongue-in-the-cheek reference to Java WORA, I found this entry to be somewhat funny. Let’s – for the sake of the argument – suppose that you develop for multiple platforms and your QA team is able to thoroughly test only one of them. Basically, this means that your product is going to work OK on the main platform and have some flaws (most probably in the GUI area) on other platforms. How is this worse than having a product which purposedly works on a single target platform ? Humm, is JVM ‘system software’ after all ?