A Computer For Virginia, USA

Are you into jokes? If you live in the East Coast region of the USA, you've probably heard this one.

Q: How many Virginians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: At least 3. One to do the work, the others to remember how great the old one was.

But the Great State of Virginia is moving into the future, and so should computer owners. We have to let go of the past, and get rid of computers running Windows 95, 98 - and yes, ME and 2000. At least, we need to stop requiring Microsoft to "support" them. Microsoft simply can't retain backward compatibility to every historical edition of Windows, forever; sometime, computer owners have to roll forward, into the present.

If you can't network your computer running Windows 98 with a computer running Windows Vista, because the computer running Windows 98 "locks up", is that a Vista problem? The Windows 98 operating system (and the aged hardware running it) has limits. Those limits may not be seen until you try to exceed them, but they are limits in the Windows 98 operating system (or the hardware).

If Internet Explorer Version 6 won't display certain web sites, is that a fault of Microsoft, of the web site producer, of the web site host, or maybe should you accept just a bit of the blame too - since you keep using it? Internet Explorer V6 is very old software - it's buggy, it lacks features, and it's frequently patched to foil the bad guys. Microsoft can't patch it forever, though.

Every computer system contains internally located parts, or externally attached devices. Internally located parts, classically located on "expansion cards", are designed to be swapped in and out, in cases where one has failed or you simply want a better unit. Mass storage (aka "disk drive" controllers) processors, multimedia (aka "sound" / "video") processors, network ("Ethernet" / "WiFi") processors, are internally located parts. Fax machines, modems, and printers are externally attached ("peripheral") devices.

Internal and peripheral devices require drivers, a set of programs that connect a specific device (processor) to a specific operating system. If your computer is going to support your video card, you have to have the drivers for that video card, written to support that operating system.

Generally, the drivers are written by the manufacturer of the component in question. Possibly (but not always) they will be certified by Microsoft, for the operating system.

Every component, internal or external, like every person, is mortal. One day, the video processor, on your computer running Windows 98, will die. When that happens, what chance is there that you can go buy a replacement? You can maybe find a newer model by the same vendor, but what chance is there that the vendor will have written drivers, for that model, that support Windows 98?

Go to your favourite computer store this week, and look.

Then think about what you're doing, and move forward.


Anonymous said...

Do you mean that computer software isn't like my old neck-ties? It won't come back into fashion? hahaha
Good one, Chuck. Written like a true IT man.
(But I still love 3.1)