June 2, 2007

Micrsoftware, nothing to do with Microsoft, refers to small discrete bits of software that rely on an established piece of software or an API. A classic example of this is Joel Spolsky’s copilot project. Its a small discrete piece of software that uses the open source VNC project as its core. A piece of software that uses an established API can also be seen as microsoftware like Agent Earth which allows users to browse real-estate data by location in Google Earth. Even TubeMogule which allows users to track online video analytics across online video sites including Google Video, MetaCafe, MySpace, Revver and YouTube can be seen as microsoftware.

Developing microsoftware ensures that you have a ready audience for your product. It also often means that the heavy work is already done by the parent product and that your microsoftware is adding value via either a different interface, a mashing of two or more data sources, simplifying an existing process, adding a new process or creating new data based on the parent product. Plugins, software dependent on APIs, toolbars, widgets and software that gives the parent product a new UI can also be seen as microsoftware.