Compatibility and security issues..

Published on: Author: Mike Hall Leave a comment

I knew a guy who always got lost whenever he ventured out in his car beyond his comfort zone. While his street hadn’t changed much, the road system beyond had and the 15 year old atlas map on the rear parcel shelf didn’t reflect the changes.

Similarly, I saw in MS Answers a guy who couldn’t get AutoRoute 2001 to install in Windows 7. There is no doubt in my mind that Windows 7 was doing him a favour. Not only have the roads changed, been added to over the last 11 years, even the shape of the coastline has changed. The East coast is getting washed away and the West coast is ever expanding. It may not be at too fast a rate but it is happening.

So what does this have to do with compatibility? Well, compatibility is based around using old tools to do jobs in an environment for which they were not designed to work.

Make no mistake, some of the older programs broke every rule in the code manuals such that they would  work. File security and just general security were not close to paramount, and software authors did whatever needed to be done in order to get their software to run well enough that it would sell. Windows 9x was loosely written and allowed it, which didn’t help the cause.

Windows XP changed that, and Microsoft started to tighten up on security and file integrity as well as the ‘one license, one computer’ issue. It had to come. A considerable amount of backwards compatibility was built in, not enough for everything to work but enough that computers users with older programs could still use the stuff.

Time marched on, file breaching was taken to new levels, and users expected to be able to do more and in relative safety, so Microsoft upped the game in Vista and subsequently in Windows 7. Even now, there are loop-holes and there always will be if a computer user expects access to stuff outside of the confines of the case, but security and integrity are way improved over what we had before.

Unfortunately, that cuts a substantial amount of software out of the game. There is no mileage or profit in making changes to old software such that it will work in the secure modern environment, and opening the gates on Windows 7 to allow anything to work the is akin to knocking down the castle walls. With the walls gone, any ‘Lion’ in the locality can get in..

In the case of AutoRoute 2001 mentioned above, the user loses on two counts. First, he/she gets lost and secondly gets re-directed straight to the Lions territory where they are all lined up ready to pounce.

Long time computers users have at some point got used to using a warm fuzzy program which suited the needs to a treat, but there is more to making an older program work in the new environment than just inserting a line at the beginning of the program code which reads ‘Please work in Windows 7’. For the amount of work required, they are going to have to charge, and they have to make the top new and shiny as well or the customers will think that they have been hustled. Gone are the warm fuzzy features which endeared so much, to be replaced by ‘it used to be easier than this’ features.

Such is progress. Don’t blame the software guys. They were doing their best within the limitations of knowledge and  what they had to work with re hardware and how the software interacted with it. They are still doing their best now even if it doesn’t seem that way. 

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