March 3, 2011

Windows, From 1.0 to 7

Some intrepid fellow has taken the time to install every Windows operating system version, from 1.0 to 7 (there are many more than seven versions between those numbers), onto a modern computer. There's video out there of him doing so, one after another, upgrade after upgrade. Here's a link to it if you'd like to watch.

The man's curiosity and persistence are not what's remarkable here. What is remarkable is that this worked at all, and that the software programs that ran on that first version of Windows still run on Windows 7. You will be very hard-pressed to find any single version of software, anywhere, that was designed to run on the original Mac and still performs on today's beauties. It just isn't a priority for Apple.

While Apple's highest principle has always been innovation, Microsoft's has always been compatibility. In this case, "backwards compatibility," the ability of a new version of the operating system to run software that was designed to run on a previous version. The benefit to Windows users is obvious. The other side of that coin is that newer versions of Windows carry increasingly heavy baggage. Newer versions of the Mac OS...don't.

The Mac OS stays lean and clean, though occasionally forces you to upgrade your application software. It'll cost you more over the long haul, though as a Mac user you're used to that. Windows doesn't often require you to upgrade your applications, but lean and clean has never been used to describe a Microsoft product. Give Microsoft their due, though. Backwards compatibility over twenty-five years was not easy to achieve. Pick your poison.