I'm sometimes extremely nostalgic for the pre-Internet days when you couldn't send out a patch when something didn't work. You had to make it right the first time.
These days, even cars get patches for known bugs after their release. "Sorry, we made some errors, and it might explode. Bring it in and we'll fix it for you."
I guess any bugs in a writing software can't be as bad as exploding cars, so bring it on!
Well, I remember when the "all new and shiny" subway cars in my native Stockholm arrived about 20 years ago which ended up with both physical and software related problems delayed the entire thing (despite major festivities with a lot of media and stuff looking on as the entire system crashed and burned in front of everyone who were there for the party but ended up following the horrific premiere as it embarrased everyone involved in it hysterically). Lovely times.
I also remember many other such situations during the years I've lived, and of course know of other such stories before I could witness them myself.
Some of the bad stuff includes the OS we are all working on, Windows (I gather, because we are all desperately discussing the Windows version of Scrivener here, after all). Like releasing upgrades to Windows 10 that ends up totally erasing decades of photos, personal letters, written down stories and memories, company information and other stuff for thousands upon thousands of people. Or crashing other very critical functionality at other times.
There hasn't been an upgrade to Windows 10 for several years now that hasn't been accompanied by severe warnings saying that you really shouldn't download and install the updates just yet... Warnings issued by Microsoft themselves.
Other software I have encountered include Antivirus software that totally locked me out of my own computer for absolutely no reason at all. Or graphics drivers that totally crashed the entire OS because of a strange bug that no one at the GPU manufacturer had even predicted or seen at all. Which happened while installing a big upgrade to those newer generation drivers that would compare pretty much fully with the now planned upgrade of the software version of Scrivener from 1.xx to 3.xx.
Can you imagine how pissed I was when I learned that the bug in the Antivirus software was well known and had existed for years?
Can you imagine how equally pissed and sad I'd have been if the GPU manufacturer had known at all about the strange bug in the generation of software that turned my computer more or less autistic and locked into itself - so severely that i almost couldn't even save the motherboard, because the bios itself was effected. They didn't know. But I wish they had known, early enough that they might have been able to fix the thing before the big upgrade went live.
I could go on. Let's.
There have actually been some horrible situations that might meassure in the same league even for software that released before the internet was as widespread a thing as well. This includes pc games as well, by the way. Or business software in the banking and finance industries. Very complicated when such things happen. Very nasty.
Also... as someone said just shortly before myself here in this thread, the NASA space program had massive software bugs (combined with computers that weren't capable of handling all the data that was pushed towards them during operations), and so on. Massive stuff. But they did find solutions in most cases, thankfully, while they did update the software and also hardware between missions. Naturally.
And in the same spirit, there have always been incremental updates to software on disks and cd's before the internet era, as well. Patch here, patch there. New version this or that, upgrade disk here and patch disk there. Lots of those things. I remember them all too well. Sure you don't too?
Another thing that comes to mind, as we talk about early releases despite massive bugs... Anyone following the sad and heartbreaking result of the crashes of a major aircraft manufacturers latest model, where the new bestseller plane was released with new software that - apparently - had well known bugs that the manufacturer decided to just brush over? The cost of being sloppy and not caring about those bugs turned into a true nightmare, after all.
A few months or a year or two of fixing that software, combined with actually telling the airlines and pilots who were supposed to operate the machines that there was now such a software to begin with (and maybe that it might be a bit less stable than preferred in some situations) might have gone a long way to save lives. A new software that hadn't existed in the previous models, that was buggy as nothing else... but the manufacturer didn't want delays, nor having to deal with the costs of having to teach pilots how to handle that unfinished software. So... what happened?
Now, granted, a software for writing books and stuff ain't a massive airplane that might lead to extensive losses of life if it crashes. But for many people within our creative community of writers, losing a lot of work and ideas and plot points that took, in some cases, ages for us to produce would still feel somewhat like if something crashed and destroyed our entire home and took parts of our souls with it.
Perhaps we should actually just try to learn from history (both recent and less so) and try to realize that releasing software is always (and will most likely always be) a story about having to judge the state of the product your releasing and deciding if the bugs and less than perfect functionality here and there might risk ending up in a plane crash or if the thing is actually good enough for now. With the promise of fixing remaining and future stuff later on, and as quickly as humanly possible, of course.
I know I prefer to not see my stories and those parts of my heart, soul and person that I "bleed" onto this virtual paper go up in smoke because the software I use had a big, big flaw that wasn't addressed in time for the big release - perhaps because it was smoothed over or because someone decided that "what the heck, the clock is ticking and I just don't care about it".
Oh, we love them bugs, don't we? Or we actually don't very much, to be honest. Right? But they are there, and they will always be there.
If all the big devastating stuff and pretty much all of the annoying things are gone, and there is just a tiny thing or two that is actually easy to work around, then the software is (by any industry standard) actually ready to release.
If there are big horrible monster bugs left, or annoying stuff that threatens our work and all that we create, or any other part of our systems... then not so much.
It's that easy.
And nothing has changed on that front during the... what... more than 170 years or so since the first embryos of what we today call computers were constructed. Nothing at all has changed. And I think Babbage, Lovelace and all of them other geniuses would probably agree with that as well.