NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- There is a "house of cards" problem that hit Microsoft (MSFT) with Windows 8, and is hitting Apple (AAPL) as its iOS gets bigger. The new version, iOS 8, may not load on older devices, and its bugs are delaying the company's entry into health care. These bugs could pinch investors.
Writing software is like building a house of cards: The bigger it gets, the more complex it becomes, and the more difficult it is to improve and maintain.
This has been known for decades, and was detailed in Fred Brooks' 1975 book The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, whose subtext was the trouble-filled birth of the IBM (IBM) 360 mainframe. He wrote that software problems don't yield to having people or money thrown at them.
A process such as parallel processing that breaks software problems down into pieces builds teams around the pieces and then coordinates the assembly.
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Open source is no less susceptible to the house-of-cards problem. It is usually managed through sponsors that take responsibility for the code, such as Red Hat (RHT) , or foundations that create shared responsibility, such as the OpenStack Foundation.
But this doesn't always prioritize the needs of big open-source users, which is why some of the biggest, including Facebook (FB) , Google (GOOG) and Twitter (TWTR) , on Wednesday announced Talk Openly Develop Openly.