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Dear Microsoft: Please stop breaking my perfectly good Windows 7

Discussion in 'Windows - General discussion' started by ireland, Oct 26, 2015.

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  1. ireland

    ireland Active member

    Nov 28, 2002
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    Dear Microsoft: Please stop breaking my perfectly good Windows 7

    How can vendors expect to migrate reluctant users to more reliable and up-to-date operating systems like Windows 10 or El Capitan -- especially when upgrade notices and reminders break earlier versions?

    Managing obsolescence is a huge challenge for platform vendors. There are usually two opposing forces driving the challenge: inertia and entropy. While both inertia and entropy can be described in some depth using actual science, for our purposes we'll summarize the terms in this way: people don't like to change and stuff breaks over time.

    Take, for example, Windows XP. There is no doubt, from a technical and security point of view, that XP is long past its expiration date. It is actually dangerous to run on the Internet. But there are a whole lot of people who have been using XP forever, know it intimately, and don't want to give it up.

    Then there are the systems built around XP. I had a content management system that ran on a development environment that would only run on 32-bit Windows XP. It took three years to move that beast away - three years of time-consuming and costly coding. There are machines and systems all over the world that would have to be substantially recoded and built - sometimes from scratch - to move off of XP.

    There's also the cost. Sure, PCs are now dirt cheap. But a thousand dirt cheap PCs start getting really expensive. Many companies and individuals are loathe to spend the money to buy systems that replace perfectly good machines.

    So despite all of Microsoft's efforts and all of our cajoling and warning, XP lives on.

    While Windows XP is a no-brainer in the "must not use anymore" category, Windows 7 is a much more difficult challenge for Microsoft. Windows 7 is probably the most loved of Microsoft's modern operating systems: It was a clear home run, and -- due to Microsoft's incredible missteps with Windows 8 -- is the last truly trusted Microsoft operating system in many users minds.

    For many users -- myself included -- there is no reason to upgrade existing machines to Windows 10. Windows 7 is perfectly functional, as safe as Windows machines are going to be, familiar, and rock solid.

    And yet, overcoming upgrade inertia is not a Microsoft-only problem. I have a Mac mini running Mountain Lion (that's four revs back now in OS X land), but it's running my studio and I don't want to make changes until I can be sure everything will upgrade. Some of the specialty-video software I rely on doesn't support the more modern OS versions, so for now I'm leaving it un-upgraded.
    This, of course, reinforces the system vendor's dilemma: supporting old systems is costly, regressive, and encourages users to run potentially unsafe gear. By contrast, getting users to upgrade keeps the flow of revenue going, while letting old systems gather moss doesn't do much for the bottom line.

    Of course, it's in Microsoft's - and Apple's and Google's - best interests to encourage uptake of new OS releases. This isn't just about cash. After all, while all three companies need to continue to stoke the fires that drive their bottom lines, they're all very nicely profitable businesses with working business models.

    They also need to drive OS upgrade uptake to keep their customers safe, to drive adoption of new gear, to keep the excitement level up, and to respond to all the opportunities created by the relentless pace of innovation across the industry.

    The problem is, it's not a smooth path. Customers will be inconvenienced. There will be bugs. There will be profanity.

    And goodwill will be lost

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