Sunday, 5 July 2015

Pseudo-Taxes on Software Companies

Our SSL certificate was about to expire. I renewed it for another year for US$99. If I didn't do this, we wouldn't be able to use HTTPS on our server. I consider this a kind of tax. It is not a real tax, in that it goes to the government. But it is a necessary fee I need to pay, that doesn't actually improve my software or my company.

There's a few of this pseudo-taxes on software companies. They are annoying not just for the monetary cost, but for the time and hassle of needing to stay on top of these.

I got the payment of the SSL certificate renewal correct. I got the process of reissuing the certificate correct. But I got the process of applying the renewed certificate incorrect. But only sort of incorrect. Our website still served pages using HTTPS. But a critical internal system that issues license keys to new customers failed. Understanding and fixing the problem involved esoteric knowledge, and - frankly - some guesswork. All up, it took me a few hours. Which is time I couldn't use to support customers or improve my software.

Another pseudo-tax is the yearly membership fee for Apple's "Developer Program". We need to be in this to be able to sell on the OS X or iOS App Store. We need this to be able to "sign" our software, a process that means if someone downloads our software from our website, they can open the downloaded application correctly. Stop paying the pseudo-tax, and our software stops getting signed correctly; new customers can no longer download and install our software.

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