[Moin-user] Why oh why!

Rick Vanderveer rick.vanderveer at gmail.com
Thu Dec 11 15:08:55 EST 2008

On Thu, Dec 11, 2008 at 2:12 AM, Pierre Coupard <ppc at alum.com> wrote:

> Wow, way to mess up an analogy. Apple's MacOS is indeed notoriously bad
> at maintaining backward compatibility, because Apple wants to get rid of
> the old cruft. Microsoft however has an operating system that, however
> bad, still runs DOS software in emulation 30 years down the line,
> complete with the bugs of the time. This is the single strongest selling
> point of Windows. Microsoft puts a lot of effort into ensuring old
> software runs on their new OSes, and as much as I hate the company, it
> doesn't get praised enough for that. Guess who has the biggest marketshare?
> I can't count the number of people I know who had a Mac and reluctantly
> ditched it to buy a beige box PC when a new, incompatible Mac came
> along, and they looked at having to buy new versions of their
> already-paid-for software to fit the new MacOS. They did it once, they
> didn't do it twice.

huh, I don't think I messed up any analogy. :-)   By your comment, I guess
that you haven't upgraded to Vista yet.  :-)

Microsoft *tries* to maintain backward compatibility when they're able to do
so, but each time they release a new major version, there's always a list of
software that's no longer compatible.  And Vista is by far the worst (hence
the "Vista compatible" program).  You hear all the time of companies that
are maintaining some ancient Windows computer, because that's what works
with their equipment and the new stuff doesn't (I have one such box which I
need to configure a network switch.  Microsoft changed the way Windows
communicates over a serial port that's incompatible with my switch).

But running programs aside, just the Vista user interface is enough to throw
novice or barely-computer-literate people into fits.  Then throw the new
Office interface on top of that, and you're probably find the computer
thrown out the window!  And that's not to mention the non-backward
compatible new format, and the headaches and confusion that causes when
sending attachments to clients, etc.

On the server-side, it's even worse.  Upgrading Microsoft Exchange has been
one of the most painful experiences of my life.  And yes, each new version
requires lots of manual tweaks and adjustments that are not carried over
from install or migration scripts (plan on spending a lot of time on

Even IE-- to you it may more or less behave the same. But I assure you that
is NOT the case on the back end.  Each new major release has to be carefully
tested, and CSS has to be compensated (pick up any random css file from
anyone, and you'll likely find lots of "IE sucks" commented throughout the
code to adjust to new behaviors.

Apple is in an eviable position of being able to change and correct their OS
code, if that's what's for the best moving forward.  Most of the changes are
definitely for the better, and it helps keep their OS the most advanced
desktop system available to not have to worry about breaking legacy code.
If your mission-critical app doesn't work on the latest, there's no pressure
to upgrade (just don't complain when you can't run the latest Safari).  I
hope your friends enjoyed their switch to Windows, and having to contend
with anti-virus software, malware, and such.  :-)

But, it's not just limited to Windows, Mac, and open source.  We also rely
heavily on Adobe Coldfusion for many of our in-house web-driven apps, and
each new major release has depreciated or introduced new behaviors that at
times have been quite disruptive and painful, asmany hours are spent trying
to trace down bugs in legacy code.

I think the difference here is, your users are dealing with a technology
(firearms) that has changed very little over the last 150 years.  Whereas,
computers and software can radically change practically every six months!

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