Microsoft Office 2019 can open .doc files created in Microsoft Office 97 and upgrade them to a modern format, with zero loss (except for things like OLE objects, which are no longer supported for security reasons). My parent's computer has documents which haven't been touched in 20 years and they still open just fine.
Or applications written for Windows NT that still work - unmodified! - on Windows 10 thanks to layers of compatibility hacks. A true feat of engineering.
If you want to read more about the horrors of maintaining APIs that are backwards compatible with software written decades ago, I can heartily recommend Raymond Chen's blog: https://devblogs.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/
Fast forward multiple upgrades of Office it still works to this very day! You just have to keep ignoring the scary self-signed certificate warnings. ;)
I'm a die-hard Linux guy, but credit where credit is due - Excel is awesome.
Windows can run the previous version of Office. But running the current version, alongside say, Office 2007, is a major pain in the ass.
Maybe you just need to run the old version of Outlook, because your IP phone system or ERP software has some plug-in that was never written for the next version and isn't compatible.
Maybe you need to run a version of Access that's so stinking old that you have to use Windows XP in a VM.
Now, to make things worse, the database connectors for that version of Access are so outdated, that it's holding the entire company back on MySQL 5.5 because if you upgraded, your Access application wouldn't work anymore.
Not to mention, all that code you wrote 20 years ago in VBA is insecure as all hell. Unencrypted connections, ripe for SQL injection, plus that version of Access can't work with large datasets or return large results. Dammit!
The ability for an application (eg, Office) to install side-by-side with other versions of itself is entirely different than its Backwards Compatibility (eg: ability for current versions to open and/or save Office 2007 format). In fact, because of the latter, provided they did a good job at it, the former is arguably irrelevant.
I'm not familiar with Office/Outlook/Access's APIs and their history of backwards compatibility, but given that Microsoft usually does a good job with BC, I'd tend to suspect the other vendors (IP phone/ERP software) are at fault. In my experience, there's a good chance the only real incompatibility is with the vendor's installer or some version check that prevents it from working, as opposed to really not actually working, say, because Microsoft removed some API they used.
The rest of what you're talking about really points to some other disfunction, or bad or unlucky decision.
Did you buy an IP phone system expecting 20 years of use from it? Why can't you get updates -- is it because you don't want to pay for maintenance, or did they go out of business?
The cascade effect you're talking about here though highlights something else: So many companies do things they think are saving money, but actually cost them more.
For example, they can't go to the latest IP phone software, because they need to buy a hardware upgrade that will cost $x, so it means they have to use old version of Access that uses old MySQL which means other development team spends $y extra working with that version (or paying for custom dev for other products to work with it, etc). Did anyone actually evaluate which is larger? The decision to "save" $20k on a phone system upgrade could easily cost $50k or more for several months of a developer's time.
I am still somewhat surprised that Windows doesn't have a Docker-esque sandboxing system to solve this problem (I mean, it has Docker, but it's based on a full VM). I suppose in the third-party realm at the very least you have Sandboxie, but meh...
Starting with Office 2016 (maybe 2013) App-V from MS does precisely what you describe and it doesn't require any sort of classic virtualization component to be accessibly by the OS or hardware.
The tech is there. Usage is a different story.
I'd rather have planned deprecation and make choices to (at some point) abandon certain APIs, features and formats. In the case of formats, a public release of some parser code would be nice, so that if someone really wants to get some old data, they can, but other than that, stagnation isn't as good as people make it out to be.
Some things don't need intensive maintenance, and it's a bad thing to force it for unnecessary reasons. Backwards compatibility can often be understood as 10 vendor engineers performing maintenance effort so 10,000 customer engineers don't have to. It's a massive productivity win for society.
I'm a software engineer. I hate working on ancient codebases as much as the next guy, and I personally benefit from the constant make-work of re-engineering. But, as a customer, I'd rather invest my time and money to solve new problems, rather than spend it re-solving old problems.
The code and APIs will never be "perfect," and many processes change little.
Also, it's a little ambiguous who's code you're talking about: the customer's or the platform's? If a platform that maintains backwards-compatibility is an achievement worth celebrating, because it saves loads of effort across society and give people access to software who might not otherwise be able to afford it. If a platform breaks its customer's code because it's chasing after API perfection, it's kinda abusing its customers.
The theory that a platform as 'backwards compatibility' is only good for lazy developers and lost source code. And yes, not doing maintenance saves time, but so does not upgrading your platform. I mean, if 8 inch floppies work for nuclear installations, OS/2 works for subway passenger systems, and Windows 3.1 for radio servers and other flight control systems, might as well not maintain anything at all. Heck, why not use relay logic in the subway control rooms.
I think the issue here is that you're viewing this as too all-or-nothing. If the OS/2 subway software is well-tested and does everything it needs to do, what's the benefit of spending $10 million rewriting it or paying a guy to keep up with platform changes? If IBM (or whoever owns it now) keeps maintaining OS/2 so the software can run with little to no modifications on new hardware (since hardware fails), good on them. There's probably 1,000 such systems, and that's $10 billion in savings for society.
That doesn't mean no software should actively be maintained, a lot of it should. It also doesn't mean that working old systems shouldn't sometimes be replaced or upgraded. But it does mean backwards compatibility is important and shouldn't be dismissed.
As for "...means it hasn't been maintained for 20 years..." - the OS did maintain the old API's and the way they behave to make sure old software that uses said APIs still works on new OS. Does not mean that the new APIs were not developed.
Cheap bullshit, not technical limitation, is at the heart of this level of "compatibility" issues.
I’m fine with using an ephemeral toolkit to create long-lasting infra, and it even makes sense to me that some people want to sometimes write new pieces of the ephemeral toolkit to help me do that (like stylish GUI text editors or SFTP clients or notification-area service managers.)
Google is pulling similar things in the Play Store. They will pull apps just because they are not 64 bit. They delayed the deadline for a year now, because many developers really don't care.
And as a consumer it really does not matter. Why would a 32 bit app not work 10 years from now?
There are various tradeoffs to be made when considering the benefits and costs of a strategy for long-term backwards compatibility. Microsoft was traditionally on the "it will continue to work until the heat death of the universe" end of the spectrum, and Apple on the "we will be dropping support soon" end. That is, Microsoft invests a bunch of effort into ensuring old software will continue to run on new platforms, whereas Apple prefers to drop support for various platform features (68k, PPC, 32-bit) with a few years of notice.
In some cases and for some users, backwards compatibility has a value that is worth the cost paid in development time, testing, and complexity. For others, it is not. I've been a Mac user since the G4 days, and I don't think I've ever really been in the situation where I thought "oh I need to run this old software but it's no longer supported" – that is, the feature has no value to me. And I'm pretty confident that the things I produce will continue to have value in the future.
TLDR – other people are different to you sometimes.
Also, many developers use Macs not because they're in love, but because of the practical conveniences of working on a Unix-based OS.
I have about a dozen small very specific scientific 'calculators' (only the windows/linux ones that still run, the mac ones are all dead which is a darn shame since there were some jewels out there) that were written by researchers 10-20 years ago and never updated since. They haven't been touched by the original developer in years, in fact many of their host websites have been lost to the ages so they exist only through sharing on forums and whatnot. But, since they do not need any sort of connection to the outside world (times were simpler back then you see...) they still run fine in compatibility mode. For some of them their functionality can be replicated with modern software (probably in a web app or something), but the original tools still work perfectly for their jobs and are still useful today. Don't even get me started on all of the equipment which is stuck running windows 98 because of the serial port library used to communicate with the equipment was using the dos api...
Psst! - https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~psst/
Laser Line - http://www.skywise711.com/laserline/
I also use a number of paid tools that I paid for back in the '90s or early 2000's and haven't felt compelled to 'upgrade'. They run great and give me the answers I need, so until the vendor has added actual useful features (instead of reskinning them with a flat/metro interface...) I see no reason to upgrade.
About 2 years ago or so I think I was shocked to discover that they're still using said device and the software in unmodified form running it under DOSBox or something like that
The point is there isn't much of it relative to the wider ecosystem.
One particularly important reason for that is security. Most of the dependencies for software written 20+ years ago have long since been EOL'd and are therefore vulnerable.
At my work there is code from 1980's written for IBM mainframe in PL/I language still running. Has seen minor changes over the years but very much 40 year old code at the heart of it. This code has basically had continuous uptime since then. I work at industrial plant I have heard not uncommon for Banks, insurance companies, power plants etc to have similar setups with same vintage of software.
We have C and C++ code from the 90's originally written for RS/6000 era Unix boxes. That stuff is pushing 30 now. still actively maintained.
There is Fortran with genesis dating back to 80's still being run today.
A 30 year lifespan for industrial equipment is not uncommon it would be nuts to replace control software and things like that so often.
Dude, if you are trolling, don’t. If you aren’t, also don’t.
I know that sounds like I am some kind of fanboy. I assure you I am not. I wish I could go back to Ubuntu where I feel most at home. But the fact that I think so little about my OS that I forget it is there is what makes this so easy for me to stay.
Backwards compatibility is about shit working! You can't have that when a program you want to use stops working because the OS broke backwards compatibility.
I have used an iMac for a long time, every time there is a new version of the OS something breaks and in some cases there isn't a way to fix it. My 2009 iMac went through several OS upgrades and pretty much half of the installed software doesn't work anymore and in most cases i cannot even upgrade - either because i bought the software outside of MAS (which didn't exist at the time i made some of those purchases), or because the developer stopped supporting the software (including some of Apple's own software - e.g. i really like iWeb, though Apple doesn't anymore) or simply because the developer doesn't exist anymore. Or i just prefer the version i have over the version the developer would want me to use (because they bloated it up, added ads or whatever reason).
Yeah, when i first started using macOS i had pretty much the same stance as you. It went away when thing started breaking left and right over the years. There is no "shit just working" if the OS breaks said shit.
(of course in the 2009 iMac's case that isn't very relevant anymore since Apple decided a 3GHz Core 2 Duo isn't enough to run their OS, but it still happens with some newer Macs i have)
And just curious when was the last time you used a non-MS OS as your daily computer? Am I close with a guess of “not in the last 10 years”?
You made a patronizing remark about millions of people you don't know. (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21452097)
To follow up with this comment and putting yourself on a pedestal is definitely trolling, and not very creative either.
I mean, the people "typing on their MacBooks" combined together have resulted in a company with THE highest value ever in human history, and is copied by all the other companies that you champion.
2. But that's not how "most valuable" is usually rated by analysts: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alapshah/2018/08/02/apple-hits-...
3. There are privately held companies that are probably "more valuable", like Saudi Aramco
4. I don't know what I've done (which you asked in your original post), but I know I'm not a fanboy/shill/astroturfer for Apple.
> but I know I'm not a fanboy/shill/astroturfer for Apple.
No, you're just a hateful individual suffering from brand envy.
See? Assumptions are easy and fun indeed!
* Here's a fun exercise: try to dump your iCloud passwords in cleartext so you can scan for potentially compromised passwords on forgotten systems (using shell commands, not a proprietary password manager.) OSX doesn't even generate messages to acknowledge that it's designed to not let you do this.
Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Arch
The answer to Office/Adobe/gaming is simply don't do it, get someone else to do it, or get a different job. Your time is better spent on stuff like python data science, which Linux supports better than anything else out there.
If you must, run Windows 10 in a VM. If you're doing heavy duty video editing or Photoshop, get a second GPU just for the Windows 10 VM.
I am not sure recommending someone to get a different job is a good idea simply because of the choice of their operating system... I'm a huge linux fan, both of my personal laptops have linux and have been using it since 2006. But I still know that realistically it's not the best OS for certain tasks, like gaming. That's why my gaming PC has Windows on it.
Allow me to direct you to the Security APIs, which would make your task a couple lines of code that's as permissive as you'd like it to be: https://developer.apple.com/documentation/security/1398306-s....
And if you find this observation unwarranted: you not only made a sweeping generalization against everyone who does X, you authoritatively dismiss all FUTURE potential of their work. It must take no small amount of bitterness to see things that way.
As far as backwards compatibility though - MS’s new ARM based Surface won’t run 64 bit x86 Windows apps and run 32 bit x86 apps slowly and still gets half the advertised life of iPads.
Windows on Surface took 12GB of hard drive space compared to about 3GB for iOS on iPads.
Where did you find those numbers?
In Q4 of 2018, Apple sold 4.9 million Macs. Lenovo alone sold 16.6 million PC's. All brands except apple sold 63.7 million.
I could include Watches and AppleTVs but those are far from generally purpose computing devices.
But regardless, if you are referring to “successful”. Which I’m discussing, success from a business standpoint is profitable. Apple is definitely making more in profit and revenue than Microsoft. As in, Apple had the more successful strategy.
There are plenty of people whose only computing device is a phone and others who are hardly ever use a computer for personal use. Even the iPhone can keep up performance wise with some low end PCs being sold.
But I said variants. But, if you take MacOS out, the statement remains.
And seeing that iOS is now running Microsoft Office a version of Photoshop and is using more powerful processors than most x86 based PCs, we can complete take out MacOS and just iOS.
I said nothing about popularity, I was saying successful. Success in a business isn’t marketshare or popularity its profitability. Seeing how little profit that OEMs are making selling either Android devices (most of whom are losing money - except for Samsung) or PCs, I wouldn’t be surprised that Apple is more successful than all of the PC makers combined selling Macs and its well known that Apple captures more than 70% of the profit in mobile.
A company can’t stay viable based on “marketshars”. Next am I arguing what’s “best”. Do you think Dell would rather be in Apple’s position with “market share” or Apple’s in Dell’s?
There are plenty of people whose only personal computing device is their phone either by choice or necessity. Heck I am a developer and the only thing I use my computer at home for is as a Plex server.
It’s on my list to get a powerful enough NAS to transcode movies and I won’t even use it for that. I’ll run Plex and bit torrent (to uhh download Linux ISO’s) and B2 backed cloud backup app directly on it.
My wife gave her computer to our son because she uses her iPad for everything including Office.
Now that Apple (finally) supports a mouse, I connect my same Bluetooth keyboard+mouse to my iPad that I use for my work computer when I bring it home.
The people you know. Not everyone can afford to buy a desktop computer, and for many of these people a phone is their primary computing device.
As an outsider, it is very difficult for me to understand Apple's story on whether these devices are, or are not, on the same OS; what its/their "root" was; and what's the future direction (separate OS, or convergence, and if latter which one will form the core and which one will transform). The newest "iPad OS" or whatever it is called does not help matters - again, as an outsider, I cannot tell if this is a marketing differentiation or a true one.
All that being said, I rather thought that iPhones & iPads run "iOS", and Macs run "OSX", and that they were different.
Apple acquired Next and they combined some parts of classic MacOS and NextStep to create OS X.
Apple then stripped OS X down, got rid of some Mac specific parts, added some new frameworks to create “iPhone OS” and introduced the iPhone Initially they claimed that the iPhone was “.running OS X”.
They introduced the iPod Touch later the same year and the iPad 3 years later at this point, they renamed “iPhone OS” to “iOS”.
They introduced watchOS and tvOS as more variants of iOS. There is also some iOS variant running on HomePods.
Over the years the two operating systems have both somewhat diverged and they still share both some old code and new code between the two.
This year, they renamed the version of iOS running on the iPad “iPadOS” as they started adding more iPad specific features.
They also introduced the “Catalyst” framework to bring iOS specific frameworks to the Mac to make porting from iPad to the Mac easier.
Finally, they introduced Swift UI as a common cross platform framework for watchOS, iOS, macOS, iPadOS and tvOS.
It used to be all based on pure Darwin (also from Apple, but OSS). But since the iOS releases it has been diversified too much and Apple no longer wanted to backport to their own OSS (but they still backport to all GPLv2 and lower).
Oh, come on. That's profoundly misleading and you know it.
Which is just two variants
meanwhile Windows 7 support will end in 2020 and is still being sold
I didn’t say that MS isn’t good at maintaining backwards compatibility. My mom in fact uses my old Mac Mini 1.66Ghz Core Duo introduced in 2006 running Windows 7 and I just retired a Core 2 Duo 2.66Ghz laptop introduced in 2009 from running my Plex Server running Windows 10.
I’m saying that it hasn’t been a sound business strategy as the rest of the tech industry has moved on. Windows (not Microsoft) has failed in the cloud, the web browser market, and mobile.
I don't agree on the Cloud, it's the strongest competitor to Amazon, and on the other businesses there is no competition: mobile and browser is Google.
Amazon failed as well in the mobile business.
As far as mobile being “google”. In terms of revenue, it came out in the Oracle lawsuit that Android has only made Google about $33 billion its entire existence. Less than the amount that Apple makes in two quarters on iPhones. Google also reportedly still pays Apple $8 billion a year to bectge default search engine in Apple devices.
as a server, maybe.
as a client not really.
> Android has only made Google about $33 billion its entire existence
Yeah, they are good at hiding profits
and they are an ADV company which dominated the mobile market because it was strategic, they don't need to profit from selling (and manufacturing) the HW, they just need your screen time.
There are between 2.5 and 3 billion android devices around the world.
And it's almost impossible to own an android devices without Google SW on it.
> Less than the amount that Apple makes in two quarters on iPhones.
That's not really true, and iPhone revenues are declining every year.
In 2018 thy made $33.36 billions, down of 9.2% from the previous year.
If Apple loses the mobile market, it's finished.
But people would still watch YouTube advs on iPhone replacements.
You think Google lied under discovery? Oracle wasn’t just counting their meager hardware sells but they were also counting as sales, Google Play revenue etc.
There is a country that has over 1 billion people running Android with no Google Services.
And it’s still about the same as MS’s revenue last quarter at 38 billion
Apple is far more diversified than Google. Almost all of Google’s profits come from advertising, 48% of Apple’s revenue come from the iPhones.
The Mac business by itself is about the size of McDonald’s the last time I checked.
Estimates for Youtube is that it’s barely profitable if at all.
I think the known taxable profits are only a fraction of the real profits.
Don't jump to conclusions, just because you wanna prove a point.
> There is a country that has over 1 billion people running Android with no Google Services.
so you're agreeing with me: it's almost impossible, the alternative is live in China and give up your freedom.
Because you can't use Chinese services outside China.
There's also that.
Anyway Google China it's a thing.
And at this point I would prefer China spying on me than Google.
Maybe Europe should start banning US services as well...
> Apple is far more diversified than Google.
Mac HW is less than 10% of their revenues.
What else they produce?
Could Apple really survive out of wearables or iPads or iCloud without iPhones?
I seriously doubt it.
> Estimates for Youtube is that it’s barely profitable if at all.
Nobody knows how big YouTube really is
Estimates are in the range 16-25 billion dollars / year
This is a fancy way of saying that Apple sells more watches and phones than Microsoft does computers, which is a whole lot less impressive than the disinformation version you wrote above.
When I look at the microsoft ecosystem: something like 90% of all computers, nearly every corporation and business in the world, etc, I don't see anything to be ashamed of.
How is it “disinformation”? Do you think anyone on HN doesn’t understand the statement to mean what I said for it to mean? I said nothing about the computers MS sells (the Surface line). I said Windows PCs in general.
Microsoft sells a lot of Windows licenses to business and consumers but all of the energy from a development and usage standpoint is on the web. I bet most businesses could replace a lot of their computers with Chrome OS boxes and not miss a beat.
Apple sells a >$1000 phone labeled for "Professionals" which comes with 32GB of on board memory.... total. When you upcharge high end customers $150 for a $15 stick of NAND, yeah, people are more touchy about 8GB of system file
It’s not about the “system file”. It’s also about RAM usage. Lowend Surface laptops come with the same amount of storage as iPads but between using x86 chips that are a lot slower and less energy efficient and the boost of Windows, it’s nowhere near the same experience.
No iPhone Pro comes with less than the 64GB of storage. Do you really want to talk about marginal price and marginal cost? A Windows license has no marginal cost.
At least one person didn't understand and publicly stated as much. While iOS was originally spun off from macOS, it's very much it's own system, with there being no ability to run macOS applications on iOS, and vice versa (although the latter is slowly changing with recent macOS releases). Comparing the two is disingenuous at best.
EDIT: And here's at least one more: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21453368
Most iOS app can run on MacOS - the iPhone simulator compiles iOS code natively to x86 and links to an x86 version of the iOS frameworks.
Apple also introduced both catalyst and SwiftUI to make porting back and forth easier.
And yes “words mean things”. I specifically said “variants.” So if again you want to be pedantic, I could just as easily say that Apple sells more iOS devices than all Windows PC makers combined.
Also, if you want to try to exclude iPads from the iOS ecosystem because Apple now calls it “iPadOS”, iPads can still run iPhone apps.
Yeah, except no app developer ships their simulator build to customers to run in the iOS Simulator…
Even in their crowning achievement - the cloud, they are a distant second to AWS and Amazon always brags that they run more Windows instances in AWS than Microsoft runs on Azure.
MS’s revenue is half that of Apple’s and they have lower profits. Heck, last quarter Apple made about the same as Microsoft even if you subtract iPhone revenue.
They missed out on mobile for sure, but it's not because of their focus on the enterprise or backwards compatibility, and you'll have a very hard time proving so. Also they haven't missed out on the web either, and neither can you prove that they did. Just because there is a bigger cloud provider doesn't mean that they 'missed out'. And there will be bigger fish to fry, new technologies are coming out every year.
Apple and Microsoft are in vastly different spaces. Apple focuses on consumer products, Microsoft makes its money from the enterprise. An Apples to orange comparison is not meaningful.
As far as mobile, Apple was able to take its much smaller less bloated OS, cut it down to a size that could fit on a device with 128MB of RAM and have for what at the time was a full featured web browser. Did you ever use IE on a Win CE device?
And are you forgetting that Microsoft was the dominant consumer operating platform before mobile? MS didn’t have any choice but to retreat to Enterprise.
So what “bigger technologies” do you see coming out then mobile? The smart phone already has an 80%+ worldwide penetration rate of adults.
They run windows at Google HQ and AWS but you don't see anyone saying Google and Amazon "missed out"
Besides, if you're comparing MS and Apple, you need to include all the VMs running Windows (it's not a physical device - but MS makes the same amount of money on it), and also MS's foothold in Cloud.
Apple practically does not exist in those spaces, and Microsoft would have been in the same position had it broke compat as often as Apple does on the desktop.
Maybe to a troll or someone with an axe to grind, but my point of view is different.
If you’re doing the same exact thing 5 years later (let alone 10 or even 20) without any tweaks in your process, then frankly you have a job a robot should be doing.
I’ve got production code I wrote twenty years ago still up and running, despite multiple upgrades to the language and hosting Infrastucture itself that it’s running on. Should that be the case? Not in my opinion. Business needs change, that code should’ve been updated. Instead developers just added on more around it and that’s how you get bloated beasts like MS Office, Photoshop, etc.
Banks and insurance companies tends to disagree with you.
Maintaining software is just like maintaining buildings, if you don't they fall apart, but mainly it's just about checking that everything is still the same it was when it was built.
You don't change elevators in a building just because the old model is not supported anymore.
There's no conceot of "not maintained anymore" for elevators.
So maybe the poster was trolling, but it is true that you cannot rely on Macs if your software has a predicted life span longer than a couple of years.
> Business needs change
Again, many established businesses work because they don't change much over time.
They just keep doing what they do best.
> that code should’ve been updated.
That code worked, why in the hell risking to introduce new bugs?
I worked on software packages made by millions of lines, you don't just update them because your supplier won't bother supporting your workflow for at least 10 years.
Even Github, a modern fast changing company, was running on Rails 3.2 that was released in 2012 until September 2018, they switched to 5.2 and it took a tech company with some of the smartest engineers around and Rails contributors one year and a half.
Find me a robot that can navigate 4x4 trails and identify rocks with accuracy.
And that kind of prospecting hasn't changed in centuries.
There's at least one doing so right this very moment on Mars, though it's pretty slow at it.
(2) Microsoft Works (at least the version we had a license to) definitely does not run on modern Windows. My dad's business is forced to keep a Windows XP VM alive, in order to keep running Works Database, because as I mentioned, there's still not a migration path to anything for it.
But I can see how the conflicting requirements to keep the upgrade treadmill rolling and never break any old apps have made certain versions of Windows into such unholy piles of kludges.
Pre-XML the .doc format was just the in-memory representation of the document serialised to disk and loading it was the converse. Conceptually you could imagine it like mmap(). It was different between versions because the code was different, not by any deliberate effort.
These are still used in the newer XLSB format.
 https://www.loc.gov/preservation/digital/formats/digformatsp... (Page 14)
It was far from bug-free though.
Another comment here points out that word emitted tags for forward compatibility reasons. That's still true - I've had reason to parse OOXML directly and see those tags. I guess it sometimes isn't enough.
In my opinion the biggest short term threat we have at the moment isn't the popular document file formats (though that is a long term threat) but content posted exclusively online. Web standards are constantly evolving and any given website would have a multitude of files -- many of which wouldn't even be hosted on the same domain as the HTML endpoint, which itself is most likely dynamically generated. Plus our local copies of web content is just a temporary cache that routinely gets flushed so once it disappears from the web it's likely gone for good (web archive aside).
I'll be more worried about classic file formats when computing undergoes it's next paradigm shift away from personal computing (arguably that's already started happening with smart phones and cloud computing).
Sometimes, change is good, even if it's painful in the short term.
Shit! I was playing Stellaris meanwhile I was updating to Kubuntu 18.10
The more immediate usability issues mean that I have a clear divide between the OSes I prefer to use for my daily driver (OSX/Windows) vs. the OSes I prefer to use for servers (Linux). With WSL2, the virtualization capabilities are good enough that I pretty much never need to explicitly boot Linux on my laptop/desktop anymore.
My limited experience with Windows dual boot, shitty Windows issues or Bios caused problems.
Do you have a good reason to blame Linux here?
Of course it's still possible that on my particular configuration it's actually Windows doing something dumb that makes grub.conf changes necessary. However, it's (1) well documented for years, (2) an issue that the Linux (distro) installer creates, and (3) an issue that still gets recreated on every update that mysteriously reverts my grub.conf changes, so Windows gets the benefit of the doubt and Linux doesn't.
That's been my experience in general with desktop Linux: I have never experienced a Linux distro where I didn't have to get into the weeds to fix up a clean install, even when Linux is the only OS on the system.
I only booted into Windows a couple of times (to keep it up to date) but I never ran into any problems with dual booting.
Ubuntu has its problems, especially Gnome works but I hate it's dumbdown, also high density screens work but have issues.
I still far prefer Linux to Windows.
Server upgrades are usually smooth (early versions of Ubuntu being an exception.)
> Not only keeps working before the upgrade. It allows you to WORK meanwhile the whole OS is upgrading!
Yeah, and then it breaks and trashes my install after the upgrade. Happened to me many times.
Office 95 can run on Win10, with only a little difficulty:
As if that isn't already discussed to death around here or elsewhere. I see far more disdain for Microsoft than I do any praise at all. And while I'm not particularly happy with Microsoft either, I'm still able to appreciate the good things that they do.
> Being retro-compatible in a walled garden only doesn't make all that sense.
It makes perfect sense from the company's point of view.
> It makes perfect sense from the company's point of view.
Yeah, for sure, but I was criticizing OP that was praising MS for still being compatible with their own 20+ years old proprietary and hegemonic document format.
I'd call that more "stable API" than anything else --- Win32 is Win32, and while they've added functionality over the years, the basic stuff remains the same.
They introduced a special mode for the memory (de)allocator that allowed a (disallowed) pattern that SimCity used and that no longer worked with a new change, and used this mode when SimCity was running.
I totally agree that Microsoft maintained compatibility to the point of breaking good engineering practices. But shouldn’t gcc/jvm count as programs too? And code developed for those program still runs assuming same input. It’s much more impressive with Microsoft because they are GUIs but functionally I think they’re pretty much the same.
A document file that can still be read decades later should be the norm though, and Office 2019 needing to 'upgrade' them is less than ideal.
At that time I think people already smelt that important docs would need to exported in something else (ex. PDF) just in case MS changed its mind about how text or layouts would work.
Ironically, Google Docs (Which was, for obvious reasons, not my first choice for opening an old Word document) parsed it in exactly the intended format.
They are now at a point where they have to base their browser on a rival’s engine, their developing a mobile device based on Android and their own cloud platform hosts fewer Windows instances than Linux instances.
Google supposedly didn't support windows phone, in part, because they were upset that they couldn't use the wince apps as a base.
IE's backwards compat method was to simply embed the old version of the engine, and use it as necessary. That's not really a factor in the many reasons people mostly use IE to download a better browser for personal browsing, but is a major factor in why it was the corporate browser of choice for decades: it is expected to be able to continue to work the same way on a long term basis.
Windows vs Linux usage rates on servers is mostly a statement of Linux is at least good enough, and a good enough solution with simpler (no) paid licensing is a clear win for ease of use. I haven't seen any Linux vs Windows server performance benchmarks in a long time; I'm assuming they're not that far apart, outside of whatever bits and pieces that either platform is truly bad at.
I was a WinCE developer - both .Net and MFC. Trust me, no one wanted to use WinCE for anything. Besides, MS abandoned WinCE with VS 2010.
I can’t speak for performance, but the resource requirements for Windows is huge compared to Linux and that really makes a difference in cloud environments when it comes to price (even excluding licensing cost) and startup time - that makes a difference when you need elasticity and to scale up and down fast.
You can do a lot with a 128MB/.25 vCPU Linux instance. You can barely get away with a 4GB RAM Windows instance with 1 vCPU.
Well, maybe nobody wanted to, but to support a new platform with unknown uptake, would you rather use your existing code, write something new on a less capable api, or just walk away?
 well, a lot of wince stuff was still there on wp7, if you were willing to do terrible things in order to get available features that weren't exposed.
I should be able to fire up a BASIC script from 1970 and have it still run. It shouldn't require me hours of hunting retro-computing websites for the right simulators - it should just be part of the OS.
I don't care how - whether that be emulation, or maintaining direct compatibility.
A set of emulators for all ancient computing platforms only comes in at a few megabytes, so there really isn't an excuse not to include it.
Why you say? Two reasons: 1. maintaining backwards compatibility isn't hard - you just switch to emulation every time you want to 'get rid of cruft', and then what happens inside the emulated container can be frozen in time and requires no maintanance. 2. Every time one breaks a legacy bit of code, all the users of that code have to do some work to re-invent it. It would be like shredding Leonardo da vinci's work just because we have better painters now.
Mac actually took great pains to be backwards compatible until relatively recently. PPC's could run 68k programs, OSX could run tradition MacOS programs, and x86 macs could even run PPC programs.
And Linux Desktop can't run programs not in its repo unless you want to compile it from source.
So what does that tell us? Well, there at least appears to be a pretty strong correlation between compatibility and success with desktop OSs.
I legit see more Microsoft stuff all around, Linux stuff close second.
I believe that periodic clean installs of OSes are not necessary anymore and every modern OS install should survive hardware changes and upgrades to newer versions.
Probably because I know I will reinstall not too long from any point in time I just install everything I think I need. I need to convert an IMG to ISO? Let me just try these 5 apps and forget about them. They will be cleaned after the fresh install anyway.
Servers, though, are a completely different story. Servers are like cattle, but personal computers are like pets.
To go from the DOS based Windows (95, 98 and ME) to the NT based Windows versions (Windows NT 4, Windows 2000, Windows XP) required a fresh install.
Update: Actually, I was wrong: XP could update from ME - as seen in the OP.
I believe much of this was already in place with Windows 3.1(1)'s 386 enhanced mode and Win32s, although from memory Windows 95 moved far more device drivers into the 32-bit kernel. Presumably this was enabled by not having to be able to end the windowing session and quit back to DOS without rebooting.
 I seem to remember CD-ROM drive controller drivers being particularly common culprits in this regard, with virtual mode device drivers often being unavailable, so you had to use real mode drivers in config.sys even on Win9x. Yes, back in the day of single-, double-, and quad-speed CD-ROM drives, you typically had an ISA card with a custom controller that then connected to the CD-ROM drive via an "I can't believe it's not IDE" ribbon cable. Only later did we get ATAPI and hard drives and optical drives could use the same controller and bus. (Sound cards often had an on-board CD-ROM drive controller and ribbon cable connector around that time.)
The original "It's now safe to turn off your computer" screen after shutting down windows 95 is actually just a dos prompt.
You cannot see it, because the computer was left in a graphics mode, but if you can blindly type a command to switch graphics mode you're back at a normal DOS prompt.
In Win9x/Me, the core of the OS (the VMM) is 32-bit (which was true even in Windows 3.x in 386 Enhanced mode.) But, some other parts of the OS remained 16-bit code, and 32-bit apps will sometimes end up invoking 16-bit code via thunks when calling OS APIs.
By contrast, NT-based Windows, a 32-bit app will never invoke any 16-bit code. The only scenario in which 16-bit code would ever run would be when running a legacy 16-bit app.
(Someone please correct me if I'm remembering this wrong.)
However there were commonly used built-in dos utilities that were 16bit so if you called out to any of those then obviously you would invoke 16bit code.
By contrast, Windows NT doesn't support 32-bit processes loading 16-bit DLLs, although it does support the reverse (16-bit processes loading 32-bit DLLs – "general thunking")
I'm not sure how widely this facility, of loading 16-bit DLLs into 32-bit processes, was used. I thought, Microsoft actually used it internally in implementing parts of Win95, but I could be misremembering that.
IIRC it was more than just data structures and that other chunks of GDI were 16-bit, in part due to problems with 32-bit driver support for graphics hardware at the time.
True story, last week I tried to update Windows 10 v1803 (preinstalled) on my dinky ASUS VivoBook E12 to v1903. The result was a seemingly endless "Reverting changes" bootloop that I haven't gotten around to fix yet.
Deploying Windows 10 to users from Windows 7 has been a lot less hassle than XP to 7 in my environments, and I haven't heard different stories from other admins.
Apparently, according to Wikipedia: "Although Windows 9x features memory protection, it does not protect the first megabyte of memory from userland applications. This area of memory contains code critical to the functioning of the operating system, and by writing into this area of memory an application can crash or freeze the operating system. This was a source of instability as faulty applications could accidentally write into this region and with that halt the operating system"
As it was aimed exclusively at home users, various features aimed at enterprise (but often desirable to power users) were stripped out or broken.
I think you can probably get from ubuntu's release to current. But I also happen to know they 'supported' upgrading from Debian to warty warthog. And I've done a few Debian OS upgrades, so that's also doable. Possibly all the way back to 1.1 released in 1996. Can you upgrade from something else to Debian?
But not without pain, I've almost always needed to manually intervene and fix configuration files. So you need root shell.
Fun stuff. My first thought is the time I was installing Windows 9x from floppies and one of thirty-something were bad...
Considering how much I fresh install things, I really had no idea that you could upgrade all the way from 1 to XP.
Would be cool to produce some files in the first Windows like a picture in Paint 1.0 and then upgrade it again and again.
Getting 16-bit on 64-bit Windows takes a little more work:
It can be installed systemwide to get almost seamless support for 16bit Windows apps.
Yes, all Windows 10 editions are availables in 32 or 64bit.
I find it frustrating to not have an operating system that has the polish & coherency of macOS on non-Macs, and that’s one of the biggest reasons why these Mac people (myself included) doesn’t even consider moving out of macOS.
Microsoft might need to add something like a legacy control panel which only appears if you install an old app that adds something there. Users who don't use old apps wouldn't see it, so no harm done versus dropping support completely. And, I don't understand why Microsoft couldn't integrate those panels into the modern Settings UI, even if the underlying framework and visuals were different.
That's literally what they've done, the problem is most of their own systems are legacy!
Yeah, and that means (at least for me) non-coherency of the platform. Why should there be two different settings on one OS, depending whether the user installed the app it or not?
> And even then, there's no reason Microsoft couldn't add a visual update and even integrate the UI into Settings.
FYI: the reason Microsoft can’t remove this control panel stuff is because some legacy apps (mostly designed for enterprise) installs DLLs that adds a control panel item.
This is one of the examples where their backwards compatibility drags them to make a better OS.
Then don't install old apps and you'll get coherency. This is much better than outright blocking those old apps for everyone.
> FYI: the reason Microsoft can’t remove this control panel stuff is because some legacy apps (mostly designed for enterprise) installs DLLs that adds a control panel item
If I were Microsoft, I would remove the "Control Panel" as a program the user can open, but keep the underlying framework. Then, if a legacy program adds a control panel item, I'd place a shortcut to that item in modern Settings. It might not be 100% visually perfect, but you'd get most of the way there.
If there's some technical reason Microsoft can't do that (I don't understand how there could be—we're talking about shortcuts), at minimum the legacy Control Panel shouldn't appear until a 3rd party item is pushed to it, and it shouldn't contain any Microsoft settings. The current situation is completely unnecessary.
They did and people got upset. It's a "who moved my cheese" backward compatibility problem for people. People get upset if they can't find that thing they always used and worked just fine.
For a brief while Windows 10 the legacy Control Panel was entirely removed from Search, and there were so many complaints so they backed off and it's searchable again. That's about the only way to find it; at this point in Windows 10 it's not in the Start Menu, it's not File Explorer Quick Access. People have to intentionally find the Control Panel.
People still talk about the COM GUID to the legacy Control Panel as if it were some secret cheat code to Windows, making shortcuts to the Control Panel because it looks familiar and powerful and/or they don't want to relearn anything new, don't want to get used to the all the cheese that moved around in the modern Settings app.
Fortunately for Microsoft this "issue" has historically resulted in some additional (if uneven) familiarity among Enterprise users, where MacOS is nowhere to be found, though I do concede it's been getting out of hand now with Windows 10
I would like a modernized Windows without all the cruft; one of the reasons Windows apps have such poor quality is that apps don’t need to update their internals, so they just can’t get advantage of the newer features. I’m not sure, but last time I saw the Windows land, win32-based apps HiDPI support is opt-in, not opt-out.
Apple has a great record on deprecating things in a fairly understandable speed, so apps in macOS generally have up-to-date internals with all of the features working consistently.
Most apps use the control-center (compared to Windows where every app reinvents notifications, even with the existence of the notification center added in Windows 10), use macOS tabs, users can define keybindings that work in every Cocoa TextField, etc...
I miss Windows Phone 10 every day still.
Sometimes I still miss Windows 8, when the Win32 desktop booted late and if you stayed entirely in UWP apps things were wildly clean and Windows ran like a dream. (I also know how many people hated that experience.)
Windows has the "flex" to do it, just not the developer nor the user buy-in.
There's an hope with "Windows 10X" they are trying to "flex" a bit, show people what Windows can do when allowed to limit the legacy cruft. The legacy cruft is all still there though, Microsoft has learned the hard way it's there for good, but maybe there's a small bit of hope that developers might be interested in enough in making first class "10X" applications, users enough interest in the magic of post-legacy Windows UI to try new experiences at least some of the time they aren't using the comfort food of the classic Win32 legacy. Maybe a little hope, we'll see.
As far as I'm concerned, LTSC is _perfect_. I want security updates, but I don't want the rest of my OS to change out from under me. And, because the security updates are much smaller, they download and install far more quickly.
> settings app and the control panel
After using Mac, I once decided to explore Win7's control panel on a friend's machine. I counted ten different kinds of windows in there, not including third-party additions. Some of the windows had controls that weren't used anywhere else in the system—iirc it was the side panel with navigation links.
Hearing that MS now made another entire app for the settings, in addition, was a knee-slapper.
Control panel is my litmus test for the quality of a desktop environment. E.g. you can easily see how Gnome 2 stole ideas from Mac, in the good sense.
I like the insane level of backwards compatibility.
When you can run a windows game from 1996 with only a few tweaks, it's beautiful. It's a worthless gimmick, but it makes me pop.