Hardware and software designers attending this month's Macworld Expo in San Francisco said today's software offerings, dubbed "fatware" because of their memory-munching properties, make it harder to convince consumers computers are easy to use.
"Just adding new technology for technology's sake is having little effect [on software marketing efforts]," said Nolan Larsen, director-human factors development at Novell, Salt Lake City.
Novell's research indicated the most features a user of its WordPerfect software tries is 11%, with an average use of 5% of features.
Mr. Larsen suggested software models move away from sweeping suites applications and toward packages to which specialized extensions could later be added.
The goal, he said, is to give "users more of what they want without paying for what they don't need."
Feature clutter is a result of software developers trying to meet the needs of vertical market groups as well as adding bells and whistles to make for snazzy demos, Mr. Larsen said.
"Software [developers] are putting more and more features in, and no one wants to be the first to stop," said Karl Wong, principal analyst-PC software at Dataquest, San Jose, Calif.
Software sales for personal computer use in the U.S. and Canada reached $4.7 billion for the first nine months of 1994, up 11.2% over the first three quarters of 1993, the most recent numbers available, according to the Washington-based Software Publishers Association.