I recently ran across a video that shows the upgrade process from MS-DOS all the way to Windows 7, stopping along the way to run a couple of classic games: Doom2 and Monkey Island using the original install files. It’s nothing short of amazing that it can be done. Watching the video was a bit like watching my computer life flash before my eyes.
It got me thinking about backwards compatibility which may be one of Microsoft’s greatest achievements. The fact that you can play a 17 year old game on Windows 7 is neat and fun but also speaks volumes about Microsoft's commitment to running legacy software. This commitment has made life infinitely easier for developers but often more difficult for system administrators who get tasked with deploying ancient software.
My coworker is currently fighting with an app that was written in 1996 and is not enterprise-ready. I’m confident he’ll find a way to deploy it and get users the information they need but it may take some time. Looking through thirty years of rear-view mirror, an environment that makes life easy for developers and users while guaranteeing system administrators employment may be the perfect balance after all.
Watch the video