Size Doesn’t Matter – Time Does

I just noticed this tweet from Scott Hanselman about the size of downloads. The truth is it doesn’t matter how big the file is, what matters is how long it takes to download and install, and I’m not actually talking about download & install time for the .NET vs. Java here, I am talking generally about stuff we download from the net.

Basically, what people really care about is their time. These days we don’t have to worry too much about the economic cost of downloading 100MB worth of files (some people do, but lets limit our survey set to geeks who know how to purchase broadband).

The point is – if a file is 100MB and it takes five minutes to pull it down, and five minutes to pull it down, and I have ten minutes to spare then I am probably happy enough. If however I have two minutes to spare and its going to take ten minutes to pull down and another ten to install, then I’m probably not a happy camper.

The relative benefit of each additional megabyte of download (therefore time) possibly counts here. For example – if I just need the runtime to run a crusty Windows Forms application on an XP machine and I am time more, then I’ll be even more pissed off that I am downloading 100MB instead of say 25MB. Perhaps this is the strongest argument for breaking the framework up into components which can be delivered as needed? (note: I’m not necessarily an advocate of breaking up the framework – I’m a firm fence sitter on that one).

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