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Monday, February 25, 2013

How to determine the Operating System support for your product - Part 5

This particular series of posts talks about how to determine the support for previous Operating Systems provided in your application (Operating System Support in your application - Part 4). In the previous post, I talked about one major factor - when the maker of the Operating System (whether that be Microsoft or Apple) decides to drop support for the Operating System and will not provide any more bug fixes or other support. This gives a problem where even if you decide to support such an application, you will not get any bug fixes from the makers of the Operating System, which can be a huge potential problem given the interactions of the application with the Operating System.
In this post, I will talk about the process of cutting off support for an Operating System. There are 2 different methods which I have seen about how to cut off support for an Operating System. One of the ways is to provide a hard constraint, which means that the user will not be able to install on that specific Operating System, and the other is a soft constraint which means that the user is given a warning when trying to install on that version of the Operating System.
Consider the variation about using a hard constraint that prevents the user from installing on such an Operating System. What this means is that when the user tries to load the application on that specific version of the Operating System, the application determines the specific Operating System loaded on the computer, and then checks with the supported list of Operating Systems. If the Operating System is not to be supported, then the application installer will give an error to the user and prevent any installation on the user machine. 
Putting a hard constraint is needed when the makers of the software have made a determination that the user should be prevented on that Operating System. This can be when there is a high deal of uncertainty about whether the application will work well on that Operating System without any defects, or when the makers have decided that the version of the Operating System is not in wide user anymore. The hard constraints are also used when the Operating System installed on the user machines is controlled, such as in the case of higher end or specialized software.
The soft constraint means that the user will get a message during the installation process about the version of the Operating System not being supported, and will get an option about whether to proceed or not. If the user decides to go ahead, then the application will get installed. This is normally done when there is an expectation of very few problems on that specific Operating System, and the company does not really want to force the users of that specific Operating System to try alternative solutions. There will be need to be some testing of that specific Operating System, but not at the same level as that of the supported Operating Systems.

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