Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Software Life Cycle

It is a fact that all software has a finite and relatively short life cycle. If you would like a glimpse into the time frames involved, look at the Microsoft "Windows lifecycle fact sheet." Without reproducing the whole document, you might note that mainstream support for Windows XP was discontinued back in April, 2009. Windows 8 is already scheduled for its end of support on 9 January 2018.

When asked "What should I do when the version of Windows I'm using reaches its end of support date?" Microsoft responds: "You can either install the latest available service pack or upgrade to a newer version of Windows."

One outside factor that drives these changes is the availability of newer technology. For example, the discontinuance of Windows XP roughly corresponds to the introduction of the Intel® Core™2 Duo processor T9800 chip. In late 2005 and early 2010, the Intel i5 and i7 chips were also introduced. So there was a significant advancement in chip technology about the same time Microsoft came out with a newer version of Windows and discontinued support for previous versions. There is almost a one-to-one correlation between upgrades in hardware and changes in the software. This is a process that will continue long into the future.

Genealogy software, both local computer based and online, is not at all immune to these constant changes. You may lament the fact that your current computer will not run the newest software, but ultimately that will be the case with any computer presently in use. In addition, reliance on faster and faster Internet connection speeds is also a certainty. Dial-up access has been marginalized by the online software developments. This fact is not a conspiracy by any of the large genealogical database companies, they are victims of the situation not the perpetrators.

This need for constant upgrading is one reason I have been consistently urging people to migrate their data to newer systems from time to time and abandon old, no longer supported, software such as Personal Ancestral File.

You can complain, rail against the system or opt out, but technology has a life of its own and will just keep changing and forcing older technologies out of the market. I have been living with this situation for a very long time and I am already facing the possibility that I will have to upgrade my laptop before too long. I may have a couple of more years of life in my desktop computers, but when I bought them, I realized their days were numbered.


  1. Software does become obsolete, or superseded, but you might be mistaking the profit motive for progress here James. Microsoft treat Windows as a commodity now, and we're forced to upgrade on the most fragile of justifications. In an ideal world, the software applications should be the commodity, not the operating system.

    In general, the longevity of a product depends on so many things: technology changes, changes to the market space, competition, adaptability of a design to new requirements.

  2. Last week I was a the Carnegie Library in the Pennsylvania Room. I wanted to look for some information on a past issue of Genealogy Society of Pennsylvania. They had a whole set of CD's and when I tried to load it I found it was supported by an ancient version of Windows, which was before XP. I could not read the information.

  3. I hear you James. Only wish some of my fellow researchers were listening too.

  4. Every software that is going to be launched is part through the software life cycle this is only done for systematic tracking all the activities involving the various activities that software would perform and how efficiently.

    Silvester Norman

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