Everything has an expiry date – except software?

I was having a discussion with my friend/colleague Amit Shinde about the quality of things, and he brought up this topic of expiry dates. Fortunately for us, here in India, we now – at least – have an expiry date for most food stuff sold on the primary economy. The underground economy – or System D as it is known – is so vast and so uncontrolled that the government cannot even dream of regulating it.

But Amit’s concern was much beyond perishables. He mentioned his iPlugs for example (I’m not a Apple guy and don’t know if they call the iPhone earplugs that). He said that although there was no visual damage, they weren’t performing as they did. After all, everything has a shelf life – which may or may not be straight-forward to predict.

Take vessels for example. The old copper & brass vessels – now costly souveniers – have served families for years. There even exists a maintence process to extend its life. But the non-stick we use today in our fast lives is not built for centuries. Who knows how the coating disintegrates or how the lower layers react with oil/soap. I’m sure there is a point at which it has to be discarded – which is left to the consumer’s discretion. And when it comes to Indians, experimenting overage tolerances on expiry dates

is considered an intellectual challenge. Some even treat the refrigerator as a perpetual preservation machine.

Another one – based on sheer experience – is optical disc drives: CD, DVD, etc. I haven’t seen a drive last over 3 years with very basic use. If I’m allowed to avenge the irritation caused by printers, I’d say their expiry is in the warehouse itself. Of all the tech stuff I’ve used, I have seen this piece of equipment would never perform consistently – crazy moody sleazebags.

I’m sure telephones, electronics, wires, plastic, engines, ornaments, perfumes, and even wines & malts preserved for years have an expiry date. Some like knives, latches, cars, etc may have elaborate procedures to extend life. Some, like the aircraft industry may define it in different units – the number of pressurization cycles for instance.

The only thing, I believe, to be free from expiry is software code. The machine on which it runs may pass, and even data might corrupt, but software will keep doing what it was supposed to do – to the end of time. What do you think?