Where Do Old Software Programs Go to Die? “End of Life”

“This is the end, my only friend, the end…”  J.M. – I’m sure Jim wasn’t talking about old software programs 🙂

Old Computer Software Programs

What does it mean when old software programs, or an operating system reaches the “End of Life”. There are times when an application or operating system software is so annoying and buggy that you welcome its demise, but a decently written program that has adequate service packs, will be useful and familiar enough to give you enough satisfaction, that you want to keep it going for as long as possible.  Just like the old car that you nurse along despite the repairs it needs, because it feels comfortable and familiar.

“End of Life” usually comes years after old software programs have been discontinued because the installed base can’t upgrade right away, and the natural inclination of humans to resist change.  In the case of software upgrades, that resistance is well advised (more on that in a future post). Yes, there are new software packages, operating systems and hardware devices that bring bright new innovations that we both need and request.  The need for better security has prompted improvements in software platforms on the backend, that are more integrated with the hardware and therefore more secure.  And its also true that innovations in security on the web have made some online business platforms more secure and cost effective for many small businesses.

Does “End of Life” mean that it just stops working and will never grace your screen again with its shining blue countenance? Thankfully no.  “End of Life” doesn’t usually mean the actual end for most applications and operating systems.  Since its been discontinued and no longer sold, It means its no longer profitable for the manufacturer and or distributor to provide support or updates for it.  So its not “The End” in the sense you have to stop using it.  But you will eventually stop getting help from those that created it.  Very often “End of Life” is used as a marketing tool by hardware and software manufacturers and distributors, to influence owners of prior versions to upgrade and buy newer, flashier, but untested and often more expensive versions.

That’s nothing new. Auto companies and appliance manufacturers have been doing that forever.  I remember my 1974 Chevy Impala (TM)  that ran faithfully until I stupidly drove it to a junkyard to get a newer car “better” car, that had all sorts of problems that my older car didn’t. My Impala rode better, was safer, less complicated, cheaper to maintain, and so on.  Most important, it was reliable transportation that I could count on.

Old Computer Software Program Graveyard

The same can be said about computer systems and software programs. Unless its a lemon and badly designed out of the gate, it will almost run forever, just like an old Chevy.

There are many examples of this in the software world, Windows 7 (TM) being the most prominent.  Windows 7 is the result of about 20 years of innovation and IMHO is the best operating system Microsoft (TM) has developed.  Its stable predictable, user friendly, backward and forward compatible, and flexible, etc. It still hasn’t reached its “End of Life” and its still being sold as an OEM software to computer professionals, and DIY power users.  There was a faux “End of Life” when Windows 10 (TM) came out, which was largely marketing based, but it did mean the end of consumer sales for Windows 7.  Like Windows XP (TM), before it, Windows 7 was well though-out and developed, with a reliable troubleshooting and update system so when its actual “End of Life” comes, it won’t really be the end.  And that’s good news for those of use who don’t want to give up our old Chevy Impala.

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