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Compatibility woes / deprecation (Miscellaneous)

posted by Rugxulo(R) Homepage, Usono, 13.02.2009, 23:38
(edited by Rugxulo on 14.02.2009, 22:15)

(First, let me say that this is more of a philosophical discussion than anything.)

Many programs (and even OSes) are being deprecated these days. Sometimes it's due to code cleanup or broken ports, but mostly it just seems to be due to chauvinism or laziness on the part of maintainers. I know time is precious and money doesn't grow on trees, but it annoys me when something that works fine (e.g. Cygwin) claims to drop Win9x support in its next major release. Or that Pelles C already dropped it a while back. For some reason, everything new is hailed as brilliant and everything old sucks "by default" (even when they lauded the old every bit as much when it was new).

For comparison (or laughs ... even though it's sadly true), read this. It's basically a rant from early 2002 against XP (which is nowadays considered one of the best Windows, or even OSes, ever by most Windows users).

Summary:

+ very stable
+ good hardware compatibility
- older commercial games don't work
- wastes half a gig of HD space
- pre-XP apps run worse under compatibility mode
- shuts down much more slowly than Win9x

"This just occured to me: I had problems with XP. But I hadn't made up my
mind about it yet, because I felt I should give them change to fix it.
("Give it a year, and try it again".) However I just realized by the time
it works well for me, a new version of windows would be released, and I'd be
in the same boat again. So I suppose my preliminary instinct is also my
finally conclusion. "XP sucks". (and to reiterate -- I'm speaking for the
home user.)"

"Essentially, "if it's not broken, don't fix it". (specifically referring to the OS)."

"Take inventory of all your software packages... CD's, floppy's,
download's, etc. How many say "Windows XP: on them? That answer is exactly
how many you can be confident will run properly on XP. How much did all of
that cost? Can you affort to throw away 50% of that money (and time and
detication -- and memories)?"

In short, I would normally half way sorta agree with this guy but ignore it and move on. And yet, in hindsight, he's actually mostly right. (Vista is worse than XP in compatibility and footprint.) Sad but true. In 2006, Win98SE was only seven years old and WinME was actually (barely?) newer than Win2k. Well, these days, XP is seven years old, so it seems that will eventually be deprecated too (although maybe slower since the installed base is so huge). It's just hard to imagine much missing in Win9x that you'd absolutely need and be unable to workaround. It just feels like a copout (to me).

Example: Mozilla Firefox

In 2006 or so, MS decided they were dropping all support for Win9x/ME completely. And immediately upon this, Mozilla decided to drop support in the same way (e.g. MS wouldn't fix some silly bug). It was decided that 3.x wouldn't run, so you'd be stuck with 2.x (which was to be continually updated for security fixes only until Dec. 2008).

Now, I see only a few solutions to this problem when somebody drops support for your OS:

- keep running old, classic 2.0.0.20 on your Win9x machine
- run KernelEx and "fake" kernel version to let the latest run
- get somebody to port 3.x themselves (as was done for eCS, aka OS/2)
- EDIT: run something completely different (e.g. Opera)
- upgrade your OS (e.g. to Win2k, which is the lightest modern NT-based OS)
- run a Linux liveCD (or similar) with latest Firefox

The arguments against upgrading are fairly sane, I think:

- Win9x is faster and smaller, uses less resources
- Win9x has lots better DOS compatibility (although DOSBox exists)
- KernelEx helps some apps run (e.g. Doom 3)
- not interested in wasting more money on what will soon be obsolete
(Vista isn't even as compatible as XP, and Win7 is coming very soon, apparently)

The main reasons mentioned to upgrade from Win9x are as follows:

- SATA support
- HD with > 137 GB
- memory > 512 MB (although this can be worked around)

N.B. I do not run Win9x currently (although I have a Win98SE box lying around here somewhere that I eventually intend to use). Just thinking about OS compatibility in general. What really annoys me is when DOS support is dropped and the older, still-working ports are deleted or hidden so you can't even use that!

Feel free to comment, but this was not meant as a flame towards any one group (Mozilla or MS), just a series of observations. I'm not trying to "hold back progress" or anything, just wondering why some devs claim you need 128 MB of RAM just to run a modern OS (but we managed with much less before).

 

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