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New software doesn't like old operating systems

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Did you know that if you never update your operating system, the last version of your favorite applications, one day, will no longer be supported? Do you realize that this situation will become an uncomfortable impasse soon or later? and the more outdated you are the worse? Let's have a look.

The computer industry is in constant motion and evolution. As the time goes on, we usually purchase new hardware, we very likely update our operating system to enjoy all the new features and we try to get all our software up-to-date. But sometimes it is not that easy, mainly because a new operating system or a new hardware can conflict with a version of a software you use a lot, a software that is vital to you or your company. Indeed if that specific version does something or supports something new versions don't you will have to stick with what you have. Same if you're a satisfied pragmatic user that doesn't feel the need for speed new unneeded stuff or simply if your hardware is old and doesn't support last operating system versions at all. In all those cases, after a few years of running an outdated or obsolete system (that works perfectly for you), you may get frustrated and wonder why, soon or later, new versions of other important applications will no longer be supported by your system. How comes?

The answer is simple, it is all about money. Let me try to explain you why in layman's terms.

First you need to understand that software is written by developers and built with a compiler. A developer is a person with a given set of skills to write code, a compiler is a specific software that converts that code into an application you can double-click on. Usually a developer works on what we call a project. It contains everything, the code, the interface (windows, menus, ...), the contents (pictures, icons, sounds, ...) and very likely a set of libraries. Some libraries are free, others are not. Libraries may come as plugins or not but never mind, they give the developer new functionalities so he doesn't have to reinvent the wheel.

Maintaining code compatible with lots of operating system versions is complex and expensive. The operating system vendor, Microsoft, Apple, etc. will very likely remove support for de-emphasized features, indeed a feature may become de-emphasized then deprecated and finally removed.

De-emphasized means that the feature use is no longer encouraged and alternatives should be investigated. Bugs/errors will not be fixed unless they cause fatal errors (a crash for example). At some point after a feature is de-emphasized, it will be deprecated.

Deprecated means that a feature is no longer supported, although the feature still works and remains available for use. If a project requires this feature, the developer should consider finding another solution. Bugs/errors are not typically fixed for deprecated features. Deprecated feature will eventually be removed typically about a year after they were deprecated (although this may be sooner or later if the situation warrants it).

Then we have the domino effect, since Microsoft or Apple have stopped supporting a feature the compiler vendor will soon do the same and then the plugin/library developer and finally us. Since we need to be up-to-date with everything we lose compatibility with the older stuff. Law of life applied to the software industry, in his 1996 novel, 'The Story of B', Daniel Quinn wrote, "Law of life is just a collection of evolutionarily stable strategies".

Usually here at Maxprog we do the best to support things as many time as we can. When it is no longer possible we archive the version of the software in a special repository (with a grave icon).

There you will find the last Windows XP version of all our software, the last PowerPC versions, the last macOS 10.6 versions and so on. We even have macOS 9 versions. This is the best we can do. Maybe you will not be able to run last software on your old system but at least we keep the version that works for you.


Stan Busk - Software Engineer
at www.maxprog.com



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