After Hours

Living with elderly technology

The old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." New stuff is sexy, but sometimes there are good reasons for keeping older tools that are still serviceable.

The old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." New stuff is sexy, but sometimes there are good reasons for keeping older tools that are still serviceable.

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One of my hobbies is video gaming. PC classics, newer console games, I love 'em all. I'm planning on using this long Thanksgiving weekend to get in some quality game time. Wrapping up my e-mail before the holiday, though, a newsletter from one of the gaming Web sites I follow caught my eye.

For the online magazine The Escapist, Les Chappell has written about the phenomenon of "abandonware." Abandonware is the name that the gaming community has given to software that is no longer being sold or actively developed by its publisher. No one is trying to make money off of the property anymore; it has been abandoned by its owners. A large community has formed online — fans of these abandoned games who share the files with each other. Often, to take advantage of the game files provided by the community, players have to jump through quite a few hoops. Many of these games were distributed on floppy disk and were never designed to run on modern operating systems. For lots of people, though, the game play offered by these older titles is still perfectly worthwhile and worth a little effort.

The discussion of abandoned games got me thinking about IT and the issue of supporting legacy hardware and software. There isn't much business software that I would describe as abandoned, but there are a lot of instances where older IT solutions are still perfectly serviceable. Technology companies have us under constant pressure to upgrade to the latest and greatest products, but that is not always possible or advisable. There are instances where an outdated product may be the best tool for the job. I, for one, have held on to a copy of MS Office 2000 for years, long after most of the department has been upgraded to more recent versions. Reason being, I have one client with limited mobility who continues to use Office 2K because it works better with the voice recognition software she needs.

I'm interested in hearing about instances where you've decided that older tools are still worth keeping around, and what you may have had to do to make sure those solutions integrate well with newer technology. Tell your story in the comments below.

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