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.NET 1.1. IE6. Java 1.1. All of these are old ancient versions of software that still for some reason exist in organizations that are too scared to upgrade, don't like change, or follow the "If its not broken, don't fix it" principle.

But when do you drop support for such old versions of software? What determines when a platform is too old?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by maple_shaft Mar 31 '14 at 9:20

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

There are organizations that still use Cobol-85. There are still DOS point of sale systems in use. It's up to the organization to decide when to upgrade. It's a business decision, not a technical decision. –  Gilbert Le Blanc Mar 31 '14 at 10:03

4 Answers 4

I generally go by what the first party considers End of Life: if the person who made the software won't support it anymore, there's very little hope for a third party to provide anything beyond a nominal level of support.

I do make exceptions for things that have exceptional market share (read: IE6), but once other, much larger companies axe their third party support, I follow suit. In the case of IE6, I stopped supporting it when Google stopped.

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This is by far the most logical measure. In large enterprise situations it is not fear of upgrade it is cost. Why upgrade something for no discernible benefit (example: to benefit from 1.1 to 2.0 .Net framework you have to refactor) when you have the cost of recertifying everything and the risk of a big deployment. If the vendor supports it you don't upgrade. –  Bill Sep 17 '10 at 2:10
Come on, even Microsoft stopped supporting IE6 a very long time ago –  Luke Feb 16 '14 at 17:33

... to add to your question, ... or have reasons because of which they cannot upgrade or change easily or at all (i.e. without disproportionately large costs, or because of technical reasons - think things which are made with a lifespan of 30-40 years).

... but to answer it, when there is no more a significant number of users who use it, and who are willing to pay for it (support). Otherwise, if one drops support for product X, another company will start providing it.

End of support usually comes because of several reasons:
- end of development (from the programmer's side, e.g. lack of funds, unwillingness to port to another platform/OS/compiler, death of programmer)
- change of factors on which the programmer cannot influence (e.g., change of platform, hardware unavailability)
- end of need for the product (i.e. it is no longer sought by the market)

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We have an enterprise app that is almost quarter million lines of C# code written in .NET 1.1. Microsoft has made a lot things in .NET 1.1 obsolete. As Bill said, the resources needed to make the leap is not justified easily. Usually end of life notifications gets some attention.

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The end of the support is linked to the end of life of the major technologies involved into that product. Here is why :

  • No more evolutions : your product will not be able to follow the evolutions and will be part of the problematic question : how can I update this system ?
  • This one is linked to the first one : the lack of evolutions leads to the impossibility to change the hardware and enslaves you and the client to the last remaining computer that can runs it. eg : windows xp for .net 1.1 witch is not supported by many hardware now.
  • The security of your product will go worse with time ... It can be the troyan horse of your client for bigger security failures. Your responsability is engaged in this case.
  • Having it working well is misleading the client to the decision to envolve his solution : it's working well ... why change it ?

Best regards.

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