Linked by Stefan Michalowski, M. Sc. on Thu 19th Aug 2004 08:27 UTC
Editorial Lately posted on Slashdot, an article written by Joel Spolsky mentioned the trouble through which Microsoft went to make each version of Windows backwards compatible. In one case, for the game Simcity, they even changed the way memory handling was done when running that application. You can find additional stories of software tricks that recent versions of Windows have to perform in order to run these bug-dependant applications on the web. After reading the story, I discussed with a couple of friends how weird this was and how Free Software completely avoids this problem.
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Binary compatibility
by Daan on Thu 19th Aug 2004 15:53 UTC

It's not that no single OSS project cares about binary compatibility. KDE, for example, should not have any incompatibilities between minor revisions, so that an application compiled for KDE 3.0 should also work perfectly on the upcoming 3.3, and vice-versa.

Other projects care less, indeed. GNOME's new file selector isn't even source compatible. Therefore (I assume that) a GNOME 2.6 application won't work on 2.4, let alone 2.0.

Luckily, often it doesn't matter for open-source apps, as they are all included in the distribution with the right library versions, and closed source apps are often either statically compiled (like Acrobat Reader) or work with a compatibility package (Kylix)