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Takeaways from Last Week’s SWID Summit in DC

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The following blog post, written by Kris Barker, is in reference to the Software Identification Summit, which was held in Washington D.C. on May4th. According to TagVault, the event sponsor, “The software identification summit is designed to provide a forum for all software ecosystem members to discuss the future of software identification and discuss how these issues can be addressed in an authoritative fashion today with existing tools and technology.”

Kudos to Steve Klos for organizing a terrific conference last week! I was especially impressed by the diversity of attendees: software publishers, tool providers, government agencies, SAM practitioners and other industry experts. Each presentation was interesting in its own right, and on the whole, the sessions offered a variety of perspectives that complimented and reinforced one another.

The most interesting aspect for me was the conversations I had with other attendees about their expectations for widespread industry adoption. While in general, everybody at the conference seemed supportive of the concept of software tagging, there’s a great deal of uncertainty as to the timeframe for adoption—general consensus was 3-5 years for publishers, with an additional minimum of 18 months for end-users to tag their applications (though I actually suspect it will take longer).

Symantec and Adobe (the only desktop publishing giants to publicly declare support for ISO/IEC 19970-2) both presented at the conference, and it’s still somewhat unclear whether they eventually plan to tag all their releases or tag their software at a level that provides end users with everything tagging advocates are recommending. Adobe, for example, tags software once for a given release, but doesn’t update or add anything to those tags at a patching level. This obviously has some tricky implications for end users attempting to use tags to identify the specifics of their software configurations.

In my opinion, the greatest challenge to adoption is that publishers don’t have any true motivation or financial incentive to devote the time and energy to incorporating tagging into their product plans. Customers simply aren’t asking for it. And the fact that few (if any?) publishers attended the conference other than those who’ve already made a commitment to tagging makes me question what percentage of the publisher community is truly serious about (or even weighing) the possibility of tagging, at least in the short term. Are they truly bought into the notion that tagging is to everyone’s (including their own) advantage? Perhaps most importantly, where does Microsoft stand?

Only time will tell, but it’s nice to see some positive industry momentum and broad recognition that application recognition is a problem that needs to be tackled. Software tagging certainly holds a great deal of promise, and I look forward to seeing additional steps, however small, being taken in the right direction.