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Ask Slashdot: Why Won't Companies Upgrade Old Software?

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the this-site-is-only-viewable-on-lynx dept.

Businesses 614

An anonymous reader writes "IE6. Several governments and big companies I know use software dependent on IE6. They won't upgrade, citing the expensive cost. Do you know what's more expensive than upgrading? Downgrading to the old system they had before they upgraded! You see, before computers, companies used to have room full of people manually calculating and processing stuff. It wasn't until the computer came that they could fire all those people and save a ton of money on their collective salaries. Now, my question is: what happened to that money they saved? Even a small portion of the money saved over the years could be used to upgrade ancient systems to modern standards. However, big organizations keep citing million-dollar upgrade costs as why they won't do it. Aren't they also losing money by working with inefficient, outdated systems?"

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Yes, (5, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661057)

But,OTOH, let's put it off until next quarter and let them worry about it.

Re:Yes, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661107)

I agree, the people that are most affected by these lack of upgrades aren't in the position to make the upgrade decisions.

Re:Yes, (5, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661373)

But,OTOH, let's put it off until next quarter and let them worry about it.

Also, keeping the existing system has a 100% chance of being a nagging pain in the ass; but a pretty minimal chance of failing catastrophically in some novel way that the IT minions aren't already familiar with.

If we start development on a new system, it has a decent chance of being better; but a nonzero chance of going down in a firestorm of project-management failure, buck-passing, and overpriced Accenture code monkeys, which will make us look like total fuckups...

Re:Yes, (5, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661509)

Uhhh...you ever actually TRY to switch over a large firm with a shitload of one off and small company software to a new OS? that shit AIN'T fun, hell I'd rather get kicked in the nuts with steel toed boots, the pain won't last as long.

It never fails, you end up with software made by companies that aren't around anymore, or those real asshole companies whose answer to everything is "shell out several thou for new licenses" (Quickbooks I'm looking at YOU) and that is IF you can buy new licenses and get the damned thing to work, you'd be surprised how many SMBs end up with "some program written by Chuck who don't work here anymore" that was only supposed to be a quick and dirty "hold us over until next quarter" but ends up becoming this mission critical house of cards that you are afraid to look at funny or it'll fall down. Then of course there is the hardware, there is nothing like having to tell middle management that all those personal printers they got for the managers have to be shitcanned because there isn't drivers for the new OS, and again that is if you are lucky and its just something like a printer,not some multi thousand dollar piece of hardware that the company doesn't support on the latest and greatest..

Now I can see giving them a browser and using GP to keep IE 6 strictly on the Intranet, that makes sense and won't give middle management a coronary when they get the bill, but all those"oh you should just upgrade" are obviously people that have never actually done a large rollout because if they had they'd know that there is NO "just" when it comes to a large business, you are talking weeks to months of slow, tedious, headache inducing work and it is NOT a pleasant experience for anybody involved. That is why I don't do corp no more, got tired of the ulcers and the headaches, not for all the tea in China would I want to do another upgrade rollout, no chance in hell.

Yes (3, Insightful)

fredgiblet (1063752) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661065)

"Aren't they also losing money by working with inefficient, outdated systems?" Yes. But that's long-term, in the long-term it's someone else's problem. In the short-term they need to cut costs to make the stock look good.

Re:Yes (5, Insightful)

Ferzerp (83619) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661119)

This is an easy assumption to make, but it isn't always the truism you're making it out to be. Many software packages are highly specialized. There may only be a handful of options available that perform their function. Many of them may be difficult and far more expensive than you realize to upgrade, may have been abandoned, may have been ruined by "improvements" during upgrades, etc. When a piece of software is integral to a business, and there is no simple upgrade path, sometimes the cheapest (and *correct*) option is to stay on an "outdated" platform. Often, mitigating the issues with the old systems are cheaper than upgrading the software (if that is even possible).

Re: Yes (5, Insightful)

AudioEfex (637163) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661267)

Exactly. Many companies of a decent size have their own internal apps, tools, etc. that are not commercial products. They can range from simple tools (say an internal web page that runs a query over several unrelated systems to show a data set) to entire systems (many large companies may start with a commercial product then "Frankenstein" them internally to tailor them to the individual companies needs.

Often, the people who may have made these tools are long gone (and if a tool is used for years, then the person was probably promoted out because it was a success). And very often they are either built in a short period of time for a specific task and don't scale well to newer systems, or they were built over a long period of time by many different people and there is little if any documentation as the goal was just to make it function and work.

It's not about laziness, it's about resources. Simply upgrading a web browser can render something non-functional. Basically when you make a major change like that, every inch of system, tools, and code needs to be tested, rewritten, and/or replaced. Since the company cannot just multiply it's IT budget by a factor of ten, or just close up shop for the time it takes to do all this so customers/clients are unaffected, it takes time.

Re:Yes (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661273)

That is until you get hit by an exploit that Microsoft refuses to fix due to being EOL. Once said exploit hits and ravages your network, then what?

That's a pretty sorry excuse.

Re:Yes (-1, Redundant)

real-modo (1460457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661309)

... and this is why the world's banking systems run on COBOL and IMS/VSAM/DB2.

Re:Yes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661365)

The engine in my car is over ten years old, but it works just fine. I could spend a lot of money and get a new engine, maybe save some money in gas and reliability and even pay for the investment over time, but I don't, why? The risk/reward isn't there. The money I'd invest into a new car engine means I have less to invest elsewhere. Software is a tool of a company, one of many... it's a juggling act of a business to choose where to invest. For every software engineer lamenting the ancient systems they have running there is a tool and die guy complaining about their old equipment in the shop floor, a mechanic complaining about their old trucks, etc. I've never met a more whiny group than Computer Scientists using old software though.

Re: Yes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661311)

The most important part of this discussion is that any government and large business has one or more people whose WHOLE goddamn job is to deal with decisions exactly like this. When to invest in what technology, with what budget. There are no cases, in any but the worst businesses on earth, where anyone should still be depending on any technology that can only be used with IE6. If it's important enough that you can't live without that app, then it's a mission critical part of your business that should have had budgetary weight every year, for the last fifteen years.

Re: Yes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661347)

ACs are cute when they're young and have naÃve views like you.

Re:Yes (5, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661367)

Contrary to what some people try to claim, businesses aren't sticking with XP because they are lazy or stupid. Many people really don't understand the business aspect of this. It's not the same as a person upgrading one or two computers in their home.

Businesses have a very legitimate problem -- changing thousands (or tens of thousands) of computers to a new operating system is very expensive -- not just the cost of the OS itself but you have to pay people to do all the upgrading and deal with all the problems that come up. And after you spend all that money, what do you have? You have thousands of computers that look slightly different but work exactly the same as they did before. So what benefit did your company gain from spending all that money? This is a legitimate business concern.

Then there is the problem of software, and this is something that affects many companies both large and small. Many businesses run specialized software that is very expensive and, unfortunately, in many cases, very poorly written, meaning that it runs on Windows XP but often won't work on never versions of Windows. And so, in addition to all the expense involved in changing the OS, there is the additional expense of buying new versions of other software. And once again, once you've spend all that time, effort and money, what do you have? Computers that function exactly the same as they did before. There may be improvements "under the hood" but there is no obvious improvement in functionality.

What you really have here is an inherent conflict between the software companies and the companies use use the software. Software has matured to the point that 12 year old Windows XP, 10 year old Office 2003 and 8 year old Photoshop CS2 are still perfectly fine and able to do everything that most people need. But the software companies need to keep selling software, so they keep making changes to create "new" versions.

But businesses don't want "new". They want stability. They don't want to be constantly changing things because that disrupts their business and costs them a lot of money, with little or no benefit.

Not Invented Here (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661377)

I am sure there are plenty of specialized functions that are hard to replace, but many are just applications that "do things the way they have always been done".

Never mind they can can now be outsourced better and cheaper. How many times have you heard of government agencies spending millions on upgrading systems that are essentially CRM systems, or even worse, payroll systems and the like?

I've also seen private companies go through great pains to "upgrade" systems, to replicate arcane "business logic", which could be more easily solved by changing the process to achieve the same results. (One little example - why track 5000 sales districts, sales, etc - to calculate sales commission levels. Just assign territories, count sales, run it thru a function and be done.)

Back to another government example - why is it so important that role be taken every single day, for budgetary re-reimbursement? (sure, keep role to make sure no kids go missing, but what does that have to do with the cost of running a school? The lights are still on, the heat/AC is running and the teacher is there if there are 18 or 32 kids in the class.)

Re:Not Invented Here (2)

real-modo (1460457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661497)

Never mind they can can now be outsourced better and cheaper. How many times have you heard of government agencies spending millions on upgrading systems that are essentially CRM systems, or even worse, payroll systems and the like?

I guess you've never worked on a payroll system for any moderate-to-large enterprise. Payroll is among the hardest things to outsource well. For a recent example of how well it typically goes, google "NZ Novopay news". Paying a few thousand teachers isn't hard, right?

Outsource your payroll. Now, add in the HR hooks: ordinary recruit-review-release stuff, and things like mandatory continuing education and certification requirements for a few dozen different professions, bizarre rostering rules about shift skill and cert mixes, etc., etc. Hook up the outsourced payroll system to your IT auth system and email, your general ledger and banking, your intranet (for leave request workflows)....

Good luck! How much did you say you trust your payroll service provider?

Re:Yes (1)

adamchou (993073) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661251)

I've worked with certain government organizations that have used really outdated systems and I can say that one of the reasons is exactly this...

in the long-term it's someone else's problem

The employees of the organization I worked with were only obligated to work there a year or two and then they'd go move to another location. If they just pushed off the task as much as they could citing lack of manpower, funds, or other resources, it'd eventually become someone else's problem.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661257)

if the 'outdated' system is working, they are NOT losing money.. and if it wasn't working, they'd have upgraded by now... so they're saving money in the short term, because that's what keeps management's jobs.... but they WILL pay through the nose and down to their assholes when XP and IE6 EOL and all those systems (most of which likely have internet connectivity or are connected to networks that do) start catching bugs.. some heads WILL roll as a result.... not MY problem, i'll be there to pick up the pieces and laugh my ass off all the way to the bank.

Your question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661071)

What happened to that money they saved?
 
Globalization. Billionaire CEOs. Over 10 million on "disability" sucking at the government teat.
 
That's my guess.

What a relief. (5, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661073)

Downgrading to the old system they had before they upgraded!

Oh ok, Im glad you cleared that up. Say, can you write a proposal for how this will save oodles of money upgrading IE8 on 10000 machines to IE10, even tho it will brake the internal apps of about 15 different departments? Maybe you can also write 15 separate proposals for them to renew their contracts with the people who originally wrote the apps, and proposals for the cases where the original dev is long gone and we'll need to do a full replacement.

Boy, Im glad you cleared all that up.

Re:What a relief. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661243)

lol, brake.

Re:What a relief. (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661245)

If the software is that badly broken, you've got other very serious problems to deal with. At some point the upgrade is going to have to be made. Either MS stops releasing patches for it next year or the hardware that's available doesn't have drivers for XP.

The point is that IE 6 is ancient. It's 12 years old with the most recent stable release being about 5 years ago. This isn't something that just happened, there has been years for them to deal with that.

Re:What a relief. (2)

theskipper (461997) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661453)

For many of these systems the problem is untangling the business logic and reproducing it without error. It's like starting from scratch except worse, the spec wasn't fully documented and rarely ever treated as a living document. Not to mention that the folks that defined and implemented the systems are probably long gone.

Unwinding is not a trivial task and can take an extremely long time. Whether IE6 is 10 or 30 years old doesn't matter, working systems matter. Old technology usually isn't the thing holding you back.

Re:What a relief. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661483)

Just because something is 'ancient' doesn't mean it doesn't perform it's assigned function, and THAT'S what matters. If the tool gets it's job done, then it's a good tool. Rebuilding everything you've designed to work over the the past decade on said 'ancient' platform is almost always far too expensive in terms of developer man hours to do the code archaeology needed to both re-understand what the programs actually do, and then modernize it. Especially if you don't get anything out of the upgrade other than it now runs on some different platform that will also be obsolete in a few years and some smug IT guy.

This is why we have encapsulation and emulators. IPv4 has been declared dead for years, but instead of doing the developer-expensive upgrade to modernize their apps to IPv6, businesses just encapsulate IPv4 in IPv6 or use NAT. Ancient tools that require old OSes from mainframes get moved to VMs and emulators. Poof, there went the driver argument. Is this the optimal solution for using your hardware? No, but it's the one the organization can afford, and it works.

The only time anyone moves to a whole new architecture is when they're dumping the existing tools and replacing them with completely new ones, ostensibly because the new tools do more for them (or, more cynically, when some contractor has duped them into it).

Hell, the entire concept of cloud computing is nothing but a shitty way to not have to build apps that coherently scale dynamically across multiple machines, because developing that shit is far more expensive than just faking OS containers to run existing code.

Until programmer time is cheaper than computer time, this is the way it's going to be. Personally, I hope that never happens.

Re:What a relief. (1)

jovetoo (629494) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661391)

What about the cost of downgrading all those machines they buy to an operating system that isn't officially supported anymore? Running a browser that isn't supported anymore? And the increased risk of using old software with known vulnerabilities?

I do admit those are more hidden costs... just like the cost of those 15 departments not maintaining their apps.

It's a bit like the current financial crisis: you keep adding leverage and keep telling yourself it won't break just yet....

When it does eventually break, there is so much "legacy" that nobody can really determine who's fault is all was... and that suits everybody just fine.

Re:What a relief. (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661437)

You are saying that most IT departments are incompetent. Why are there 15 different apps that are coded to a specific web browser version? A decent IT department would stop that. There would be one or two apps, and they would be more genericized, and maintained by a trained IT staff, not built by a secretary who knows some macros, or an engineer who built an app because "how hard can it be?". The 15 apps generally come about because the IT department sucks. Then the IT department blames the users or budget makers for why the technology is broken.

Re:What a relief. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661527)

Who's to say it's the same IT department as 15 years ago? Besides it's water under the bridge.

If you want to look into the past, the real problem was companies became beholden to proprietary solutions without holding those vendor's feet to the fire wrt standards (no one got ever got fired for buying MS). Most of these crappy apps wouldn't exist if it wasn't coded to VB6 and activex laden crap like IE6.

Re:What a relief. (2)

nametaken (610866) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661467)

Say, can you write a proposal for how this will save oodles of money upgrading IE8 on 10000 machines to IE10, even tho it will brake the internal apps of about 15 different departments? Maybe you can also write 15 separate proposals for them to renew their contracts with the people who originally wrote the apps, and proposals for the cases where the original dev is long gone and we'll need to do a full replacement.

So the excuse is, "But maintaining an important app involves work."? What someone really ought to write is a termination notice.

Anyone that has a large businesses' critical applications tied to decade+ old technology has grossly underperformed in their position. And if they inherited that mess, it was their first priority to clean up after former, horribly inept individual, with the explicit goal of dealing with the elephant in the room. If they still don't have a plan to extricate the business from a miserable position, where it's their job to do so, they're simply not doing their job.

From a tech perspective, the idea of having anything tied to IE8 is a little ridiculous, as anything written at the time should've been spec'd for cross-browser support, or at worst, require minor rendering bugfixes. Everyone knew better by then.

Anyone still asleep at their desk while a company relies on IE6 should be terminated as soon as possible, no questions asked, and preferably never employed in tech again. That's an absurd situation, for which there's no imaginable excuse.

Re:What a relief. (1)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661469)

Can you write the proposal on how having to clean up malware that's going to infect our network because we're using old unsupported versions of IE is going to save money?

You can clear that one up...

Money went to obvious place (0, Offtopic)

russotto (537200) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661077)

It went into executive compensation, where else?

re: Why Won't Companies Upgrade Old Software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661081)

the answer is: because it is the big white elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.

Money? Job security? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661087)

I've heard both. Too expensive to explore new technologies, or too new and intimidating for current staff.

It's not that simple (4, Informative)

msobkow (48369) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661091)

When companies talk about multi-million dollar costs, it's because they've got a number of systems tied together with data feeds, batch processing, and other interactions between their systems. You can't typically upgrade one piece of the pie without upgrading the whole pie.

Regardless of how much of the pie gets upgraded, all the interaction points have to be regression tested, and sometimes recoded or reworked to work with the new software.

That's not an excuse for failing to continually invest in those upgrades, but many companies have put it off for so long that they're now facing an insurmountably complex (and thereby expensive) task.

Re:It's not that simple (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661151)

In other words, it's an engineering failure from top to bottom. Being dependent on one particular version of one particular application is just the tip of a very large iceberg that also happens to be a big frozen turd.

They built a rube goldberg machine without any thought to how they would maintain it or upgrade it.

Re:It's not that simple (2)

BooRadley (3956) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661293)

They built a rube goldberg machine without any thought to how they would maintain it or upgrade it.

Which describes every large software project implemented by a non-software company, ever.

Re:It's not that simple (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661415)

Which describes every large software project implemented by a non-software company, ever.

It describes plenty of large software projects written by software companies, too.

Software maintenance is hard. Very few people actually know how to design and build a software system that is maintainable over the long-term, and since even the people who can can't also see the future, we'll never be able to build idealised, perfectly maintainable systems.

The logical conclusion is that we may wind up with critical systems that are working and stable but prohibitively expensive to develop. The best solution to that situation is often to leave the existing system alone but try to isolate it via some controlled interface so you can still build your new systems with a degree of separation and better maintainability.

Re:It's not that simple (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661207)

Don't forget the old bugs everyone's forgotten about.

We're currently installing a new system for a customer to replace an old one built by another company ten or twenty years ago. It's all built to match the old system according to the documentation for how that system should operate and the interfaces between it and the other systems it communicates with.

And we're getting a lot of bug reports because the third-party systems on the other end of those interfaces aren't. We send them the correct messages and they respond incorrectly. So we're having to spend a lot of time trying to determine how the old system worked around those bugs and implement the same workarounds, so those other companies don't have to fix their software to work the way it's supposed to.

Re:It's not that simple (1)

lucm (889690) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661261)

When companies talk about multi-million dollar costs, it's because they've got a number of systems tied together with data feeds, batch processing, and other interactions between their systems. You can't typically upgrade one piece of the pie without upgrading the whole pie.

The two big evils that prevents simple and effective systems integration are:
1) Using point-to-point integration (instead of something more flexible like SOA) to "save time"
2) Using custom shared libraries and/or a in-house framework to "save time"

The second one is counter-intuitive for a lot of developers who worship libraries. But the reality is that the economics of building internal frameworks are usually weak because most languages and platforms evolve before the alleged productivity gains for developers have paid off, kickstarting a round of upgrade (or rewrite) on the library. I've seen a lot of integration projects where the bulk of the cost was linked to internal libraries requiring systemic upgrades.

naive (1)

BenBoy (615230) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661093)

Now, my question is: what happened to that money they saved? Even a small portion of the money saved over the years could be used to upgrade ancient systems to modern standards.

Yeah, or you could use it to hire a second pool-boy, no?

Now my question: What does upgrading IE have to do with enhancing shareholder value this quarter?

Re:naive (1)

real-modo (1460457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661371)

OK, naïve. But: how do structural and process engineers (who maintain industrial plant) get out from under this penny-wise, pound-foolish mindset? Why can't software maintainers do the same as engineers?

Re:naive (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661515)

Many industrial plants use decades-old technology, sometimes with a few more modern patches here and there, and they're not totally free of bugs either, that's a myth. IE6 is barely a decade old, if software engineers worked the same way as other engineers then IE6 wouldn't be anywhere near obsolescence today. And that's your answer right there, it's not that companies are too lazy to upgrade, it's that the upgrades are being released way too fast for companies to keep up, and by fast I mean more than one new version every 10 years.

Read my lips: Stupid ass executives (2, Insightful)

millertym (1946872) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661095)

There is no kinder way to put it that drives the meaning home. The executive level - especially in large corporation type environments - have only one thing pressuring their job performance: meeting/beating budgets. Not division excellence. Not Technological prowess. Only x amount of $$$ = meeting forecast targets = $$BONUS$$ cha-ching!! Personally I think this executive cultural behavior stems from the short term thinking of our entire "free" market system in play these days. No company hardly cares beyond 2-3 quarters out. They struggle badly to plan long term financially, because in the stock market/share holder culture most executives live in, meeting the next quarter's profit goals is the end all be all of their work life.

Re:Read my lips: Stupid ass executives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661331)

more often then not these sort of things have nothing to do with failures at the executive level, it usually comes back to failure by those implementing it where they budgeted for a fixed cost for the setup and installation of the project rather than saying it has an ongoing cost each year. It is a common failure in IT project management. I am dealing with one of these exact examples now. The project was costed and paid for 8 years ago, they now have some incompatibilities with the new environment yet the business people say "WTF, we already paid for this and it works, why the hell would we want to upgrade it", the business did not do anything wrong, they had no knowledge that the IT failed miserably as they didn't attribute budgeting for ongoing maintenance to the application during costing so the upgrade cost comes as a sudden surprise rather than something that was budgeted for. IT can complain all they want but this is a common mistake and it is one that has been self inflicted where the real cost of IT is being incorrectly calculated.

Re:Read my lips: Stupid ass executives (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661501)

Asymmetries are to blame.

Eg, "hindsight is always 20-20.", while accurately predicting the future is pure fantasy.

A developer building an internal app uses conventions and tools that are relavent at the time of production. This developer is not clairvoyant. They can't put the sourcecode against their head johnny carson style and predict that in 5 years that say, activeX is going to be a major pariah, and that the core framework they are making will become totally unworkable.

Likewise, everyone and his brother wants to "innovate" the internet, resulting in a constrant stream of often incompatible technologies vying for dominance, with very little standardization. Futurproofing internal applications then becomes next to impossible unless you can pull a johnny carson.

The best a developer could possibly do is to use as vanilla, boring, and feature deprived base to work from as possible, and implement all the fancy bells and whistles themselves using this base, so that the work they do will withstand uprades of that base. EG, using only the most basic, feature deprived aspects available to them. This is about the only way to overcome this, but results in byzantine, hard to debug, painful to write, and painfully slow software. Developers rightly don't want to do this, because it is inefficient with their time and resource allocations.

Even something MEANT to have "run anywhere" functionality can and does break from major revisions. We are still using java 6 at my work, because the updated runtimes break the class loaders of software we use. (Commercial software no less.)

The asymmetry cannot be fixed. The problem it causes cannot be fixed.

Re:Read my lips: Stupid ass executives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661353)

You need to have CEO's with brains. Buy in must come from the top. When Bezos declared that any future Amazon project must working 100% through reusable API's around 2005, it shook up the place. He also said that projects not meeting that requirement would be terminated and kept his word. That is the kind of buy in for future interoperability and maintainability you need.

Re:Read my lips: Stupid ass executives (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661397)

This is typical of a know-it-all-software engineer.. a business has thousands of areas that always need money & investment. If you don't work for a company that sells software you will always be down the list on investment. Talk to people that do other jobs in a company (tool & die, maintenance, whatever) and you'll find endless complaints about old tools & behind the times equipment. It's a reality of business... money is finite & perfection takes unlimited money. The point of a business is to make money so complaining the the entity is "all about the profits" is like saying an undefeated basketball team needs to focus less on making baskets and focus more on getting assists.

The Technological Divide (1)

RoknrolZombie (2504888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661097)

The problem is giving the folks that hold the money a *reason* to upgrade. See, you can explain to a tech guy about all of the holes and bugs and he can agree that an update to ________ would be fucking awesome!

But the folks holding the cash hear about all of the same bugs and holes and they nod and they think, "The software we've got has been getting the job done. Also, I remember the last time we replaced the software it was three months of people learning, and technological failures, and people making mistakes before any real work got done, and another six months after that before people started feeling comfortable with it. It was two full years before I stopped hearing them bitch about it." and all of those rational, reasoned arguments go straight out the window.

Now, that's just one reason - I have personally been witness to quite a few companies using software that has never been upgraded before. Any comparable software is vastly out of reach to a small business, so it's a big deal to have to spend $3-4k on six licenses when he needs 12. So you end up with someone that would absolutely LOVE to upgrade from IE6, but unfortunately, the server software is still only available for Windows NT, and can't be migrated for a variety of different reasons - I could go on.

But I won't.

AHLTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661109)

At least for the DoD, AHLTA was one of these cases - the US DoD system for medical care. Used IE6 for years after IE7 was released. It was ridiculous. And now that Windows 7 is installed on all the computers, they still refuse upgrades to IE9 or even 10, or better yet a reliable platform from Google or Mozilla.

It's because the process to change things takes so long. The money is negligible and the software change get's considered a "major upgrade" making it "critical" but to get everything approved and disseminated through the entire network of bases, forts, camps, etc. takes the amount of time you're looking at.

Change for sake of change (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661111)

Why should they upgrade their software if it's working? You have the idea that old software is outdated in inneficient, which is a wild assumption to make. Suppose for a moment that you own a business, and actually use a piece of software for something. This software is working now, has been working for years, and in your eyes will continue to work becuase the requirements are never going to change. Should they upgrade their software, just, because? I wouldn't blame someone for running software 50 years old if it works for what they need, is stable, and lets them do their real job.

Re:Change for sake of change (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661187)

It's discontinued and is no longer supported by the original software vendor and you don't have the source code.

I knew a shop that had a critical application that was 30 years old. However, they had enough of a clue to put themselves in the position where they could maintain the product themselves. Many CxO's came and went trying to replace that old dinosaur but newer alternatives could never quite pass muster. They weren't good enough.

Sooner or later all of those "business reasons" you used to justify buying the shiny commercial product from the darling of industry will evaporate.

Re:Change for sake of change (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661195)

This AC needs to be modded up. WAY up. I once worked at a company that in 2004 was still using a DOS-based application for many of their core functions. Why? It was easy to maintain and modify and it got the job done - very well in fact. There's a lot to be learned from the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

old saying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661117)

if it aint broke dont fix it.
and with how crap is costed and costs why keep paying and paying and paying and paying ....sorry its just a joke.

Short term thinking (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661121)

Wall Street. Large companies only care about the next quarter, because that's what shareholders care about and what executive bonuses are based upon. Much easier to kick the can down the road, put off upgrades until tomorrow. And tomorrow never comes.

IE6 (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661123)

If your idea of a company running outdated software is IE6, let me say this: welcome to the industry! You're obviously new here.

Kitchen/bathroom analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661127)

Suppose your spouse or family member pointed out that a professional remodel would really make your kitchen and bathroom both more attractive and more pleasant to use, with more storage space, etc. Think of reasons why you might put off the decision to send out for professional bids. Then add a bunch of zeroes and a whole lot of affected customers and employees, and that's what organizations are facing.

An analogy (1)

ThorGod (456163) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661129)

Changing the OS on 100 machines is a task that a group of professionals can do relatively quickly.

Changing the OS that 100 users use on a daily basis, without getting 100 angry phone calls (per day), is much more difficult.

Re:An analogy (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661205)

This sounds like another "too big to fail" problem and yet another reason to never let any corporation get so big. If you can't upgrade your IT infastructure or anything else of a similar nature, then the company in question probably needs to be dissolved into a number of smaller ones.

To the shareholders (1)

ByTor-2112 (313205) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661131)

In theory, the savings went to the shareholders as profits the first year they fired those people. After that, it wasn't in the budget and wasn't a savings any more (in the most BASIC form of accounting).

It's very, very hard to justify spending money on something that will take a decade to pay for itself. There is almost always something else you can spend it on that will have a better return. And the computer systems are largely "soft" dollars -- ask yourself "what check did I not have to write" -- so unless you can cut some more people, it probably won't be approved.

It is millions (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661137)

Think about having to buy a copy of Windows for each workstation and a copy of Windows server for the servers and then getting all new devices which are compatible and etc.. etc.. etc.. Upgrading from closed, non free software to closed non free software is massively expensive in both dollar value and in human resource cost. When you crunch the numbers, upgrading hardly makes sense.

This is why a lot of public institutions are going with free software and open source. The savings alone from moving to Microsoft Office to Libre Office is substantial. If you add in the cost that can be saved moving from Windows desktop to Linux desktops and Windows server to Linux you can quickly see the appeal. The problem with this kind of move is that most computer users don't want to learn a new system and most IT staff don't understand the non windows based solution well enough to support them.

So instead of spending millions and millions on upgrade costs or moving to a new platform that will cause havoc, most companies will just stay locked into old outdated software.

Re:It is millions (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661485)

You have a common corporate image. When it's time to move, you update the image. You test. Then you deploy. Generally the closed source licensing upgrade is zero (I had a site license that covered current + previous for the site up to some number of computers, you just fire off an email to your account rep, and the names associated with "current" and "previous" change, with no dollar cost change).

The cost of the software is much lower than the cost of the training and user problems from changing platforms

change is bad (0)

Revek (133289) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661141)

They are afraid of change. It is natural for those who do not understand new approaches to fear change. They will in fact actively oppose it and try to make the transition as hard as possible.

The Money They Saved? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661149)

... That went to corporate profits and executive bonuses!

Didn't you notice? Workers are more effective than years ago, yet are paid significantly less and less. Why? Profits for investors are more important than wages.

Why are employees lower and lower paid, and thus lower and lower educated, and lower and lower caring about what they do, and thus relatively stupid regarding the products they sell (Home Depot, Best Buy, etc)??? Profits!

You don't go to a corporate business and expect caring and experienced people. You expect people that aren't paid enough to care with the education and demeanor of high school dropouts.

Because it really will cost millions (4, Informative)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661167)

In order to upgrade the systems they also have to upgrade the back end applications that were hard coded to require IE6. These applications were often merely the front ends to legacy financial, database, purchasing, ERP and so on. You have to upgrade all of the middleware systems as well as the back end systems fed by the middle ware systems. IE 6 often required custom hacks in order to get it to work at all, and once you got it working it was your head if you messed with it.

You also had things like right management through Internet Explorer for Windows based systems that only worked in version 6. In short you could easily spend millions of dollars upgrading back end systems in order to get them to work with something newer than Internet Explorer 6. The larger the enterprise / agency the more systems that were dependent on it that very version and the worse the problem was.

All of which discounts traditional migration costs of migrating computers, licenses, testing software, hardware, implementing a hardware independent image, creating packages, testing with new versions, testing new versions with old versions etc, etc, etc. For most IT departments a migration is the largest project that they will do every few years. The consultants that work migration and that know what their doing are few and far between. You could probably fit every single qualified consultant from every agency in the country in a single conference room with room to spare. Needless to say you can generally count on paying over $10,000 a week per consultant to get someone that knows what their doing.

Migrations are very complex work that involve a lot of details, project management, hardware expertise, vendor relationships, management consultation, software license issues, SQL database work, OS work, infrastructure work and so on. Point being it's a bit more involved than rolling out the newest version of Internet Explorer from the Microsoft update site and you sound like you desperately need a consulting company before you cost your company far more money than you would pay in their fees.

Re:Because it really will cost millions (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661225)

In cases like this, IE6 should be treated as a legacy application platform and run in a VM. Actual browsing should be done in an up-to-date version of IE (or in an alternate browser, but most corps prefer IE because of group policies). This is not difficult to set up with Windows 7 Professional, which even has an XP mode for this specific purpose.

Re:Because it really will cost millions (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661443)

The problem with running in the XP mode as you suggested is that you still have the additional complexity of testing for the mode for both Windows 7 and XP. It will work as an interim bridge, but it isn't something you want to live with for any length of time if you can help it. I have very rarely ever seen any place be willing to adopt this, even though in theory you would think it should be more common. At any rate it is all a moot point as XP (and XP mode) support are going away in less than a year and this is what is finally forcing companies to spend the millions of dollars to perform the upgrades.

I was answering the question of why things were done, I was not defending the use of IE 6. I have more than once been the one advocating for IE's removal and replacement with Firefox.

Re:Because it really will cost millions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661369)

So did the vendor of said IE6-dependent products ever release incremental updates for them to free them from the IE6 shackles? What was the excuse for not deploying these upgrades when the amount of delta at that time was small?

Sorry, this mentality gets no sympathy from me.

You will find out the hard way that this attitude is penny wise and pound foolish when you get hit by the next browser drive-by.

Hopefully someone in IT will have a few brain cells and throw these applications into something like Citrix with no internet access and isolated from the rest of the corporate network.

Re:Because it really will cost millions (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661473)

IT departments are often forced into using things that they don't want to use. Do not confuse explaining why something is done with defending the thing. Where I have had the ability I have actually implemented Firefox or Chrome and actively discourages the use of Internet Explorer.

what happened to that money they saved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661181)

It went to lower prices to remain competitive with everyone else that also adopted computers to lower their costs.

Duh (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661189)

Several governments and big companies I know use software dependent on IE6.

Aren't they also losing money by working with inefficient, outdated systems?

Err, government doesn't give a shit about efficiency. That's not the point of government.

Visble vs Invisible (3)

phasmal (783681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661191)

It's part of a wider attitude to technology. The problem is that the costs of sticking to the old technology (missed opportunities, inefficient developers etc) are hidden inside the day to day running of projects, whereas the cost of upgrading is painfully visible.

I once worked in one of those IE6 organisations, and their projects were around 3x slower than they needed to be, but they didn't know it, so they kept on with the old technology. (they were still actively developing COBOL, so really ie6 was the least of their woes).

What's the benefit? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661209)

What's the benefit to upgrading your web browser before the current one isn't supported?

Sure, you'll have to do it eventually, so why not do it now? Simple - time value of money. Suppose it costs $100k to upgrade your browser now, and $100k to upgrade it a year from now. If you spend the money now you get a fancy new web browser, and you don't make a dime more in revenue as a result. If you spend the money a year from now you can invest the money for a year at 6% interest and end up with $6k more than you would have otherwise had a year from now after you spend the $100k. If you wait 6 years to upgrade then you have an extra $20k, and if you missed two upgrade opportunities along the way then you have $200k more on top of that because you make one investment instead of three.

How do you make 6% these days? Well, for starters by not taking out more debt - if you're in debt then pay down that debt, and that is probably the better part of 6% with a 100% guarantee depending on your creditworthiness. If not that, then invest in the business - chances are your company gets more than a 6% return on capital if it is doing well - that $100k could let you expand your business elsewhere.

Bottom line is that browser upgrades and such are a means to an end, and not an end in itself.

Now, if that old browser is holding you back from deploying some new software that will greatly enable your business, then upgrade that thing tomorrow, and borrow money if you don't have the cash to do it! This isn't about having a newer browser - it is about making a profit.

As far as where all the money you save/make goes - it goes to the company owner/shareholders, or gets invested into other areas of the business. When you finish paying off your car do you take the extra $400/month and tell the guy who mows your lawn to drop by every day to trim it, because after all the lawn is a little higher each day and you have the money to do something about it? Do you start getting your car waxed twice a week? No, you do whatever the heck it is that you enjoy doing with your money, because it is your money, and it really isn't anybody else's business what you do with it once you've paid your taxes.

Uhh... Life 101 ... (1)

Cammi (1956130) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661211)

Like everything in life, age is not a reason to get rid of something.

different reasons (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661213)

Companies that are using backend software that lacks support for modern clients can very well be an expensive thing to upgrade. If it's developed in-house, the people who wrote it are sometimes not even around anymore, or have moved into other positions, etc. If it was contracted out, the company may be out of business or simply can't upgrade the system on the cheap, due to having to basically start over from scratch. If it's packaged 3rd party industry software, like e-billing or medical records stuff, which can run anywhere from ten to several thousand dollars in upgrade and licensing costs, management will generally take the opinion of "if it still works, we're not upgrading it."

In the end, I think it truly does come down to cost. Paying for in-house staff to design a system doesn't make much sense these days, even when the alternative is to deal with predatory licensing contracts. Companies tend to buy into something once, and use it until it's cheaper to upgrade than to fix or recover from a failure. And really, I can't blame them, because corporate software isn't cheap, isn't noticed unless it fails, and usually works just fine.

Basically, it's the same reasons why homeowners don't generally replace water heaters or washer and dryers unless they fail, even if a newer model has more features or saves on electricity or whatever.

Risk...you're forgetting risk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661217)

"Cost" isn't just buy new hardware, or upgrade software.. there's also risk involved in change. Any risk creates *potential* massive loss, in several ways.

Re:Risk...you're forgetting risk. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661479)

Amen. I can't believe people are leaving that out. The stories about failed IT projects abound on this site - you'd think people would recognize risk aversion.

From a PHB, MBA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661219)

Now, my question is: what happened to that money they saved?

It depends on the company. Some companies saved money some didn't and the savings many times is capitalized over years. In other words, they are probably still paying for those old systems - even if it was financed with cash, they still need to use the system long enough to actually save. Think buying an expensive but very fuel efficient car - the savings come from owning the car for its life - not the first year you bought it. Although ....

Even a small portion of the money saved over the years could be used to upgrade ancient systems to modern standards.

There isn't always savings. many times you need a system just to stay competitive or to just stay in business these days.

However, big organizations keep citing million-dollar upgrade costs as why they won't do it. Aren't they also losing money by working with inefficient, outdated systems?"

No, they are not losing money. The days of upgrading and getting substantial cost improvements or productivity improvements are long gone.

IE6? Now that I don't get. I have never - ever - heard anyone cite costs as a reason not to upgrade from IE6.

Bottom Line (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661239)

IT isn't a profit center. The money wasn't "saved" by upgrading systems, rather, it wasn't spent. IT department budget was probably reduced to reflect this.

Yes, but they have their cost loopholes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661249)

These loopholes are used to siphon budget into their own pockets - so of course they won't upgrade, they'd lose out on 50% of their annual theft.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661265)

Many times there isn't a real reason to upgrade, the computers are of a good enough quality to do the job and that is all that matters.

Another problem is that huge amounts of business specific software would need to be rewritten for the new machines. An expense way higher then just a computer upgrade.

What needs to happen is for MS to create a 100% backwardly compatible browser. Good luck on having that happen.

Depends on your CEO's outlook (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661269)

Some people look at things quarter-by-quarter. These types will NEVER see the benefits of any long term projects.

I worked at a company that had a compile process that would take a half an hour to complete. We were running on ancient computers.

So, I made a spreadsheet. I showed the cost of a new computer. And through a study on my home computer, determined that it would cut compile times in half since my home computer wasn't bunk. Then used my salary as an average engineering rate for time. Showed that you compiled 4 times a day (typical) you would save X dollars per week, and the computers would pay for themselves in however many days. Then all the engineering time saved would be pure profit. Multiply that across an engineering team of a few dozen people and it would be like getting a new employee for free, in terms of hours saved.

It was a great idea.

It was completely ignored.

It is painful to work for people with such a total lack of vision. Not only was it painful to work on these slow (but hey! they're already paid for!) computers, but it was painful knowing that a good idea wasn't worth having there. And that not a single bean counter could see the logic in my proposal.

My point is, companies often times see things by quarters. Expense, money in, bottom line. Anything - even something simple and efficient - falls outside those parameters. You might as well be yodeling in Swahili.

Re:Depends on your CEO's outlook (1)

Ken D (100098) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661361)

Your problem is that you suggested spending money to save money. Sometimes there's NO MONEY.

What you needed to do was show that they could FIRE an employee, and use the savings to upgrade the computer and get the same amount of work done with the remaining employees. Save money, then spend money.

Language? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661285)

Maybe is related with the language [ted.com] theirs managers use. If you see the future you/company/whatever hacked as another company, not the current one where you would be wasting time and money now, because your language just shows them as different things, and just push those pesky tasks to the other company, the future one, that anyway will be the one hacked, not the actual one.

Is not trivial to escape from the trap we build around ourselves with our language.

Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661315)

It's like this soulskill:

If you make less money (less because you make less sales on your software), then they will have more money relative to you.

Think of it like this: If I have 10 smarties, and you have 5 I have double your smarties. My buddy also has 10 smarties and he's in my club. We're more powerful than you , relatively.
Now, if I buy your product I have to give you one of my smarties so I can take smarties away from my buddy, Then he'd have,say 8 smarties, I'd have 12 smarties, and you'd have say, 7 smarties, that would upset my club.

I'm sorry soulskill, I can't let you do that. Welcome to the future.

Sorry, but NO ! Unless you have a crappy system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661319)

No stupid php generated ajax would ever give the raw power of our well tunned C++ data crunching and visualization fat clients

No dotNet or Java mostruosity in our mixed aged hardware server room, will ever outperform our well tunned corba procesing daemons

So far in every hardware upgrade, testing shows: our current systems performarce murders in the same setup, anything new done by the trendy consulting firm in turn

If you have a crappy system to begin with... anything could be more than an upgrade a remediation

The Suits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661327)

If you are a Suit, paying down technical debt probably doesn't seem like a priority. It doesn't translate to bigger executive bonuses or a higher stock price (or winning the next contract), which is the name of the game. Even if a Suit knows that reducing technical debt is the correct thing to do, sticking your neck out for it won't get you a bigger bonus or the title boost. So you end up with enterprises running on hopelessly outdated systems that nobody understands anymore, because doing things like documentation, refactoring, testing, etc. costs money with no immediate or observable ROI.

Then you get stuck in a situation where the outdated, undocumented, and pretty much un-migratable system is essential to the success of the organization. IT or engineering has to jump through arcane hoops against their better judgement to maintain the system or the whole operation will go tits up. The young, wet-behind-the-ears OS X hipster running desktop support can't fathom why they don't just re-write it in grails or snails or banjo or whatever the coolest web-app construction infrastructure du-jour is. The veteran software engineers are much more cynical: the system is so hopelessly spaghettified with a tangled web of "business logic" that a re-write would be damn near impossible.

After a Windows Update cripples the entire operation by subtly and perhaps unintentionally modifying some aspect of IE or Windows that the system depended on, the Suits convene and agree to bring in The Contractors. The Contractors take months longer than their initial estimate but eventually get the thing straightened out by implementing some stupid half-solution: now everyone has a Windows XP VM for accessing the system.

Final cost is an order of magnitude more than what it would have been to let a team maintain it and contain the complexity. The stock price tanks, but the Suits get record bonuses anyway. Hail Capitalism!

The real lesson: don't get vendor locked (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661339)

The real problem is: these companies let themselves get vendor-locked by Microsoft.

If they had used a browser that was less proprietary, and more standard; there would not be this problem.

Once you go with a company like Microsoft, you get totally locked in.

Re:The real lesson: don't get vendor locked (1)

Shados (741919) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661427)

At the time people were locked in, there weren't another less proprietary AND more standard browser. People flocked to IE just so they could use basic CSS.

Not why wouldn't they? Why WOULD they? (1)

julian67 (1022593) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661341)

The summary assumes that "upgrading" is intrinsically and self-evidently beneficial. Why? People in business usually are not teens who get excited by a point release of ubuntu or by the latest irony free announcement of "the most secure ever" version of Windows. While they might be using IE6 they are mostly not relying on Norton Pirate Bay Special Edition for security, or on their annoying college age offspring for opinions on IT infrastructure or purchasing. Why would anyone spend large amounts of money and time to replace hardware and software that works as desired, to retrain emplyees to do stuff they are already doing, and maybe even hire extra employees, when there is no need?

The question only becomes relevant when failure to act has a reasonable potential to lead to financial penalty or some other kind of liability.

My guess (1)

MpVpRb (1423381) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661363)

The old stuff was written by contractors, or employees who left a long time ago

The original development was expensive, behind schedule and painful

Management is terrified of software development as a result of the experience

It won't be upgraded until it becomes an "extinction level" crisis

Cost/Benefit (1)

nebular (76369) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661383)

Yes, they might be losing money, but you'd have to show them that. There's a tonne of work that'd you'd have to do to show that spending $10 million now will save them $50 million over the next 10 years or so. Then they still have to justify the outlay of $10 million all at once where the $50 million will trickle in and would be barely noticeable amongst the rest of the balance sheet.

That's actually how IBM stayed in business. Make the upgrade seemless and painless. The old software still works fine, new stuff can be included as it goes. The cost of upgrades is included in service contracts.

What it boils down to is that you have to sell the idea to joe investor who wants to make sure his dividend is paid out each quarter and that the value of this stock goes up so his asset sheet says looking good.
Most investors don't give two sh!ts about what the company is actually doing.

or hardware vendors... (1)

alanshot (541117) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661407)

...Who refuse to upgrade software configuration tools used to program their hardware?

I work in the fire protection business. Fire alarm panels require special software to configure them for the specific needs of your building. The need to be tweaked periodically as the building is renovated, etc. so its not a one shot deal for the configuration.

Once a panel is released, unless there are glaring functionality problems, the software never gets maintained beyond a v1.0. In a vast number of cases, the custom software is OS dependent. So when the world moves from 98 to xp, xp to 7, etc. it actually breaks the programming software. The vendors take a honey badger approach and refuse to spend money developing new versions to keep up with the new OSes.

The vendor's suggestion? "Sell them a new panel!" Right. So because you are lazy and refuse to maintain your software (or for that matter make it so that its not OS dependent) you expect us to tell the customer "Yes we know the $100,000 solid state system you invested in 7 years ago works flawlessly, but we cant program it properly with our new equipment since we upgraded to the latest version of windows. You need to spend another 100K. We are flatly told "I dont care about your computers, my system works fine. Find a way to program my existing system or I'll find somebody who CAN!"

I have guys who have to lug around up to 3 or 4 laptops of varying age in their trucks because we have 10-20+ year old panels which work great and are mechanically sound, but the software to program it only run in the version of the OS that was current at the time it was released! (we even have a few that are DOS based)

Work Busy No Stop (1)

SpaceManFlip (2720507) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661419)

Becurrse it corstsss toou moach monneey, andd it still werrrrks naoww

Don't complain about IE6 (3, Funny)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661421)

It's all a matter of perspective: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It: Ancient Computers in Use Today [pcworld.com] . Be glad they're running something written since the advent of the PC.

BTW, I'm an old Unix hacker who has moved on to Linux but the command line still rules.

Cheers,
Dave

If (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661433)

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it. "
-Someone who got to keep their job

Many companies don't understand IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661439)

I have worked in the auto and insurance industries at multi-billion dollar companies that do not understand IT and sometimes the waste is horrific.
When each department can have its own IT people, writing similar software as the IT group in all the other departments, you can tell there is a huge disconnect in understanding how to streamline IT operations.
At my last job, I was told that if I didn't get some new capabilities into our application fast enough (I was given two weeks), the group that was requesting the changes would instead go with their own solution (an expensive IBM solution, costing in the millions, I think). When most companies can't realize that a corporate solution would be a savings on everyone's budget, you can see how they never even get to the 'Should we think about upgrading' question.
I would also say, while IE6 is annoying, the real problems are with more proprietary stuff. If you follow the industry, you can find that in the past year, a bank in England basically shut itself down when attempting a software upgrade and having something go horribly wrong. This is why many banks and insurance companies still need COBOL and FORTRAN programmers, they don't want to start from scratch.
There are a lot of angles, having managers that understand IT, money and also risk.
In the last month there was an article about a company that still uses punchcards. Think of that and be glad of IE6.

   

A little naïve, me thinks... (1)

Pollux (102520) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661441)

Even a small portion of the money saved over the years could be used to upgrade ancient systems to modern standards.

Last November, I made my last $237/month student loan payment. Imagine how much money I could be saving now. In fact, I could've use a small portion of that money to help pay off my credit card.

Guess what I did in November? Bought a new car. $300/month payments.

You know very well where that money went. On other things. On new company cars, and other things. Lined a few pockets and greased a few palms too, I'm sure. Didn't get saved, though.

(For the record, I needed to replace my 96 Olds Ciera...237K was pushing it. Didn't need a car that expensive. Wanted it, though.)

They are winning with XP (4, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661447)

Take a "small" woodworking shop. 20 people, a few trucks, huge cave like building packed with machines on the bad/cheap side of town.
They contract to gov, firms, make a small simple kitchen somedays too. Shelves, desks, seats, computer desks fill the trucks at 6/7/8 am.
The 3d tooling and software allows a team to visit any site and show a 3d vision and in rapid time get the trucks filled.
The software works on XP pro, the machines understand XP and the creative types get upgrades for their software.
Whats going to change with average woodwork? The exotic lamination?
Only constant pressure from other small teams bidding on small gov contracts.
A new school, lab, expansions..all very time and cost sensitive.
So a bright person asks to swap XP to Win 8? Will the 3d software work? Supported like it is with XP? With the 15-10-5 yo machine that worked with XP?
How many days down to test it all? New software needed? One the phone to Germany, Japan or Italy that night?

Wrong question (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661455)

You're asking the wrong question. The correct question is: Why should they upgrade?

And if your answer doesn't involve making or saving money, you're going to get laughed out of your bosses office.

Glad your not the boss... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43661465)

cuz i'd be out of a job already.

Clearly, you don't understand how business operates.

As a business owner, I run on a software product thats long gone. It's DOS based, and I couldn't run my business without it. I paid over 100k for it back in 1994.

At this point, we run it in a VM, and actually have it available on all of our systems, not just 3 boxes, but until last year, we ran it on a 486/66. When we upgraded other computers, we kept the old computers as spares.

Upgrading to a system that will do the same thing is about $250k. Thats a quarter of our sales this year. If I do that, I may as well turn out the lights and close up. It's not worth 250k to replace a tool that just works with one that is unknown to us.

I am sure you make a great IT guy, but you would do well to get a better understanding of the business realities.

Learning Curve (1)

feedayeen (1322473) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661499)

Remember how bad Microsoft Office was when you transitioned to 2007? Everything moved and you couldn't find anything! Now imagine that you are used to doing everything the same way for 12 years now. It's going to take a few weeks to figure out how to do your every day tasks again. A company can train you, costing profit; or they can wait for you to figure it out yourself, costing sales.

Say a company makes 10k a year for each employee, that's 200 dollars a week. Each of their employees makes another 500 a week in their own salary which means that the employee brought 700 dollars into the company each week. Say it takes just a week for an employee to catch up and perform his duties at 100% of pre-upgrade level and during this time, he performs at only 50%.... Now the employee is bringing in 350 but taking out 500. Your upgrade, which even if it's free, is now $350. This will take nearly an entire month to break even. For what? Long term gains 6 months from now.

What a Gish Gallop (1)

gargleblast (683147) | about a year and a half ago | (#43661521)

What a complete Gish Gallop [rationalwiki.org] . Here are some quick answers:

Why Won't Companies Upgrade Old Software? Actually, some will. But, where there is too little benefit, some business rightfully won't .

What happened to that money they saved? Maybe it was: (1) reinvested (2) paid out as dividends (3) passed on to their customers via a reduced selling price.

Aren't they also losing money by working with inefficient, outdated systems? Without a cost-benefit analysis for the system in question, the answer is: not necessarily.

Do you know what's more expensive than upgrading? (1) Moon rockets. (2) Nukes. (3) Solid gold toilet seats. (4) Led Zeppelin's music rights.

Do you know what's more expensive than upgrading? Downgrading to the old system they had before they upgraded! WTF? Who does both?

Now the crux: who are you trying to drum up business for?

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