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Saturday, February 23, 2013

How to determine the Operating System support for your product - Part 4

In the previous post of this series (Determining Operating System Support for your application - Part 3), I wrote about the process of determining the number of people in your customer base who are using the Operating System in question. There are ways to do surveys and look at industry data, but there is some amount of variability involved even when analysing the data and some amount of assumptions need to be made. Of course, trying to make such decisions without trying your best case on how to get the data required for such analysis is something that organizations should avoid at all costs. Such decisions could cost money that the organization could ill afford, and hence such decision making should be done with a lot of deliberation.
In this post, let us consider another factor that is of great importance in deciding when to drop support for an Operating System from your application. This is related to the drop in support for a particular Operating System by the makers of the operating system. So, if you could consider the case of an operating system such as Windows NT or Win 2000, the support for all of these have been dropped by Microsoft, and if you were to try to get resolution for a problem on these operating systems with Microsoft, they would decline to provide you any support and ask you to upgrade to the newest operating system.
Now you are developing an application that will run on the operating system. Any application, especially those that accesses files on the local machines or that accesses devices on the local machines such as printers (and most applications give a print interface) have a dependency on the files of the Operating System. From time to time, there are problems that crop up where you need to work with the makers of the Operating System (typically Microsoft or Apple) and even expect them to make some fixes for you. When the makers of the Operating System withdraw support, they stop supporting such problems and no longer want to provide fixes for such problems.
So what do you do ? You could still provide support for the Operating System even when the maker of the Operating System is no longer providing any support, but there is an inherent risk in this decision. During the development process, you could run into a problem that could cripple your system and yet you don't have a solution, or a solution on your end is expensive and time consuming  In such cases, it will cause you significant problems; on the other hand, small problems that really are not problems could be all that are caused. And you have to consider that the maker of the operating system would also have thought a lot about dropping support, and there would have been some factors that went into such a decision.
Apple makes it even easier. As and when Apple releases new operating systems, new machines that are released are packaged with these new systems, and they even stop supporting older operating systems on these machines. Deciding on dropping older versions of the Mac is easier than that of Windows, also because the customer base using the Mac Operating System would be less than that of Windows.

Read the next post in this series (Operating System support for your application - Part 5)

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