Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 10th Sep 2007 21:01 UTC
In the News It does not happen every day that news related to computer technology - news we report on every day - makes its way to the headline news programs and newspapers here in my home country, The Netherlands. So when it does, I am usually on the edge of my seat, simply because it offers an interesting glimpse into how 'normal' people perceive our little world. The last few days, however, that casual interest has made way for something else - tooth gnashing irritation.
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Compatibility you say?
by Eugenia on Mon 10th Sep 2007 21:26 UTC
Eugenia
Member since:
2005-06-28

Funny you write this article about Vista's compatibility. When I whine about how Linux and Linux distros break compatibilities at various levels every other day, I get the runaround from zealots. Or when Apple is dropping about 20% of compatibility with each major release (especially in the driver area) -- and sometimes they break things with minor updates too --, I also get the runaround.

I will say it for the last time: compatibility is important -- more important than developers and geeks think it is. And that's not only true for Vista, but for all OSes. Windows 9x became so popular because it kept compatibility with 1981 DOS programs, not for other reasons.

Compatibility, compatibility, compatibility...

And to the point: No, switching to alternatives won't do any good, because the alternatives break compatibility MORE OFTEN than Microsoft does, and besides, apps will eventually be made Vista-compatible. More to the point: Stay with XP. That's why I stay with XP too: compatibility with my video editing PRO apps.

Edited 2007-09-10 21:32

Reply Score: 2

RE: Compatibility you say?
by Michael on Mon 10th Sep 2007 22:36 in reply to "Compatibility you say?"
Michael Member since:
2005-07-01

The article specifically mentions applications compatability and hardware compatability.

With regards to the latter, I'd be surprised to hear of a Linux _distro release_ breaking hardware that previously worked, as it seems anathema the whole "enormous kernel does everything" ethos. That said, I expect there are examples and they just haven't affected me, which is why I don't remember them. But remeber, just because the kernel devs break it, it doesn't count if it got patched back together by the distros.

I'd be very interested to hear of a third-party Linux app which has had it's compatability broken. Mainly because there are so few (relatively) third-party Linux apps.

Reply Parent Score: 8

RE[2]: Compatibility you say?
by antwarrior on Mon 10th Sep 2007 23:51 in reply to "RE: Compatibility you say?"
antwarrior Member since:
2006-02-11

i dunno why the compatibility/ back-compatibility thing keeps popping up... applications in linux and windows are handled differently, most applications people use in linux are not binary only and are "free", the sources are available and they get the latest build with a distro upgrade anyway. The commercial apps usually work for a few distro release cycles anyway ( Nero, Realplay,flash ...etc )i dont see what the issue is... if you talk about binary only drivers then thats a different thing... can't we find anything else to whine about ? :->

Reply Parent Score: 2

Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

I'd be surprised to hear of a Linux _distro release_ breaking hardware that previously worked,


I have a Dell laptop with P2 233 and 64 MB of RAM that won't run the 2.6 kernel. Granted it's probably a decade old now, but still.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Compatibility you say?
by shapeshifter on Mon 10th Sep 2007 23:55 in reply to "Compatibility you say?"
shapeshifter Member since:
2006-09-19

Compatibility, compatibility, compatibility...


Compatibility is only important to cheap ass companies that are too cheap to upgrade their 20 year old software (often some accounting crap they've been using forever and their accountant is too stupid to adapt to a newer and more modern software).
Yeah, people will complain because their 10 year old copy of Grolier Encyclopedia they picked up for $5.99 at their local corner store doesn't run on Vista.

The problem is not as much compatibility as how buggy and unpredictable Vista is. It's like driving a car with its wheel's nuts only finger-tight.
The stupid thing (Vista) will often just start doing something on its own with no indication to the user about what it's doing. System is not responding and the user just sits there and stares on the screen like a zombie.
After updates it will sometime restart not once but twice in a row.
And don't get me started on UAC and it's constant idiotic popups.
Vista is a pinacle of bad software design.

With Linux, one gets incredible functionality, reliability, and overall value, for basically no cost.
Plus a true freedom.

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE[2]: Compatibility you say?
by Eugenia on Tue 11th Sep 2007 00:14 in reply to "RE: Compatibility you say?"
Eugenia Member since:
2005-06-28

Shapeshifter, you talk out of your a$$.

Vegas PRO costs $700, and not $6. I expect it to work because I paid for it and because I am not rich to upgrade all my software and hardware every month.

I NEED compatibility, and I am a consumer, not a "cheap ass company". Same goes for my husband's $1500 printer -- which doesn't work anymore on the new OSX version!!!

As for Linux, it does not bring me compatibility, so it's not what I want. So, stop trying.

Edited 2007-09-11 00:14

Reply Parent Score: 0

RE[2]: Compatibility you say?
by polaris20 on Tue 11th Sep 2007 16:15 in reply to "RE: Compatibility you say?"
polaris20 Member since:
2005-07-06

Compatibility is only important to cheap ass companies that are too cheap to upgrade their 20 year old software (often some accounting crap they've been using forever and their accountant is too stupid to adapt to a newer and more modern software).

What about the consumers, such as myself and Eugenia, that have spent hundreds of dollars on applications? Are we cheap asses too? And this software is not 20 years old. Sorry, but your over generalizations just don't hold water.

The problem is not as much compatibility as how buggy and unpredictable Vista is. It's like driving a car with its wheel's nuts only finger-tight.
The stupid thing (Vista) will often just start doing something on its own with no indication to the user about what it's doing. System is not responding and the user just sits there and stares on the screen like a zombie.
After updates it will sometime restart not once but twice in a row.
And don't get me started on UAC and it's constant idiotic popups.
Vista is a pinacle of bad software design.


Look, I'm no MS fanboy, but this sort of crap is getting ridiculous. I have actively used Vista on a number of hardware platforms (Intel, AMD/Via, AMD/nVidia, AMD/ATI) and not had any of the stability troubles you speak of. Ever.

I'm starting to think that a good percentage of Vista woes are posted by Linux zealots just trying to make Vista look bad.

With Linux, one gets incredible functionality, reliability, and overall value, for basically no cost.
Plus a true freedom.


Awesome, sounds good! Let me know where I can get Vegas, Tracktion, Reason, Office 2003 or 2007 and Creative Suite 3 for Linux.

I love Linux, especially SuSe and Ubuntu. But it's just not the best tool for all jobs.

I also get tired of it always being a case of the "you can like Windows, or you can like Linux, but not both" vibe I often get here.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

Compatibility is only important to cheap ass companies that are too cheap to upgrade their 20 year old software


Dude, all companies are cheap ass companies. ;)

Compatibility is more important then you think. There is a concept called "clear upgrade path." Sometimes there is, and sometimes there isn't. Sometimes companies go out of business, product lines get dropped, or maintainers quit maintaining leaving users in the lurch. People could migrate to a different program, but why when it would mean losing all that data. Why migrate when a new system isn't going to do what the users need it to?

The best example I have is the old VAX systems where I work. The client isn't going to upgrade because 1) they run fine, and 2) there isn't a system that can replace them. Believe it or not VMS will run circles around Unix in this instance. They could replace them with modern Ithium based servers, but they don't want to spend the money to replace something that is working.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Compatibility you say?
by MysterMask on Tue 11th Sep 2007 00:36 in reply to "Compatibility you say?"
MysterMask Member since:
2005-07-12

Compatibility, compatibility, compatibility...

... comes at a cost (e. g. a crufty OS). Compatibility (or rather the promises of it) is good for marketing but rarely for the user. I prefer new OSes to be better (and not just bug fix release of the old one).

Either you bought your PRO software for your needs and hence don't need to update or you bought the wrong software.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Compatibility you say?
by Eugenia on Tue 11th Sep 2007 00:38 in reply to "RE: Compatibility you say?"
Eugenia Member since:
2005-06-28

>... comes at a cost (e. g. a crufty OS).

That's an engineering headache, not a user one. As time goes, more engineering time will need to be used to make sure everything is still compatible. In that case, increase the price of the OS. But the user's usability should be completely transparent.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Compatibility you say?
by RGCook on Tue 11th Sep 2007 01:37 in reply to "Compatibility you say?"
RGCook Member since:
2005-07-12

At what point does "compatibility importance" yield to true WinOS advancement? Let's face it, Vista is a disappointment and I'd argue that a big part of the reason why it's little more than a slower XP reskin is due to MS's almost crazed adherence to compatibility.

As much as I have come to hate the overused term paradigm, MS's approach to OS development is caught in a paradigm black hole. Layer on the code to maintain compatibility while building an innovative deck of cards.

Let's face it, newer systems have the processing power and memory to containerize compatibility in the stunningly powerful VM's while freeing the OS developers of the shackles. Legacy applications can be run in so-called compatibility mode on XP with great results. Why bother, give us Singularity or Windows 7 with entire VM's back to freaking DOS (if need be damn it) to keep the older stuff going while we get real advancement.

Let me take a breath and say - Yes, I agree compatibiity is important. Critical. Absolutely necessary. But the way MS is attempting to deliver it while providing truly innovative features in a novel OS upgrade just isn't working.

Reply Parent Score: 9

RE: Compatibility you say?
by Soulbender on Tue 11th Sep 2007 03:24 in reply to "Compatibility you say?"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

"when I whine about how Linux and Linux distros break compatibilities at various levels every other day,I get the runaround from zealots"

Probably because they don't actually do it every other day.

"Windows 9x became so popular because it kept compatibility with 1981 DOS programs, not for other reasons."

It did? Not in my universe it didnt. You had to be really lucky to get a DOS program run well in Windows.
Oh sure, you had the lovely "Boot into DOS" feature but that unfortunately didnt really work that great and wasn't all that compatible, especially not with games.

Reply Parent Score: 9

RE: Compatibility you say?
by backdoc on Tue 11th Sep 2007 03:47 in reply to "Compatibility you say?"
backdoc Member since:
2006-01-14

This topic came up the other day about Python and also KDE4. KDE4 is hopefully developing a framework that make compatibility easier to maintain.

Compatibility may be important, more important than I give credit to. But, I think Linux and OSS are evolving too fast to make compatibility the most important thing. At some point, this may change. But, not yet. My comment is directed primarily to the desktop.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Compatibility you say?
by mh__ on Tue 11th Sep 2007 05:29 in reply to "Compatibility you say?"
mh__ Member since:
2007-09-11


I will say it for the last time: compatibility is important -- more important than developers and geeks think it is. And that's not only true for Vista, but for all OSes. Windows 9x became so popular because it kept compatibility with 1981 DOS programs, not for other reasons.


I agree with you on this one. As many other pointed out, binary compatibility is not strictly necessary for free software and it doesn't need to be taken into the absurd, but when it is there, it does give you a great deal of extra flexibility. Being able to copy a binary made for another distro and run it can be very convenient at times (for example when doing system repair with only an old Linux CD and no Internet connection). On the other extreme, imagine if you had to recompile or redownload all your applications with every kernel upgrade.

I think that for free software, improvement can be done in this area without that much extra effort. It's largely a question of attitude. For example, app developers should think twice before they add a new dependency, runtime detection of features should be preferred for compile-time detection and so on.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Compatibility you say?
by llanitedave on Tue 11th Sep 2007 05:45 in reply to "Compatibility you say?"
llanitedave Member since:
2005-07-24

"Compatibility, compatibility, compatibility..."

Maybe if Microsoft respected ...open standards, open standards, open standards... compatibility would not be so hard to achieve.

While I respect the worry that shifting to an open, standards-compliant system might break compatibility with existing applications and documents, it will only do so once.

If you stick with Microsoft, you'll be doing the compatibility shuffle every time the whimsical Ballmer boys call the tune for you.

But you're well trained. You'll roll over on command.

Have a biscuit.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Compatibility you say?
by dylansmrjones on Tue 11th Sep 2007 06:15 in reply to "Compatibility you say?"
dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

Windows 9x became so popular because it kept compatibility with 1981 DOS programs, not for other reasons.


Eugenia. That's not true, and you know it. Windows 9x only became a success because it came bundled with all PC's. Backwards compatibility was reasonable, but only because Windows 9x was MSDOS 7.x+Windows 4.x. It was somewhat compatible with older DOS-versions because Windows 9x was DOS. And that came at a high price in terms of lacking stability. And backwards compatibility was nowhere as good as what OS/2 gave at that time.

You mention problems with compatibility on (GNU/)Linux. Care to mention which kind of problems and sources for such problems?

Reply Parent Score: 5

binarycrusader Member since:
2005-07-06

Eugenia. That's not true, and you know it.


What Eugenia says is actually echoed by market experts who studied the sales of Windows.

DOS compatibility in Windows 9x was actually a very important thing.

As someone that worked at Gateway during latter part of the Windows95 rollout, I can tell you right now that DOS application compatibility was very important to a lot of customers.

If you want to disprove her, then do so, but simply saying she isn't right isn't enough to prove her wrong.

Ian Murdock of Debian fame points out just how important backwards compatibility is here:
http://ianmurdock.com/2007/01/14/on-the-importance-of-backward-comp...

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: Compatibility you say?
by casuto on Tue 11th Sep 2007 14:10 in reply to "Compatibility you say?"
casuto Member since:
2007-02-27

Sony Vegas Pro 8 is fully compatible with Windows Vista:
http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/products/product.asp?PID=457

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Compatibility you say?
by abraxas on Tue 11th Sep 2007 17:27 in reply to "Compatibility you say?"
abraxas Member since:
2005-07-07

will say it for the last time: compatibility is important -- more important than developers and geeks think it is. And that's not only true for Vista, but for all OSes. Windows 9x became so popular because it kept compatibility with 1981 DOS programs, not for other reasons.

It is true that compatibility is what got us where we are today but I'm not so sure that is a good thing. Compatiblity also means bloated, buggy, software.

And to the point: No, switching to alternatives won't do any good, because the alternatives break compatibility MORE OFTEN than Microsoft does, and besides, apps will eventually be made Vista-compatible. More to the point: Stay with XP. That's why I stay with XP too: compatibility with my video editing PRO apps.

I wouldn't agree with that assumption at all. It doesn't really apply to open source software and open formats. Program updates are free, you don't have to buy a new version of Norton, Quickbooks, Office, and other programs like you had to when Vista was released. That's what really pisses people off. I've angered many people when I had to tell them that they needed to buy all new versions of their software after they bought a new computer, or how they had to download drivers off the manufacturer's website for their older hardware and in some cases even new hardware.

Reply Parent Score: 2