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Why do tech companies End of Life their older software?

Why do tech companies End of Life their older software?

End of Life is all the rage at the moment. But why? Well, the software grim reaper is currently on a bit of a hot streak.

Windows 7 officially died on 14 January. In the build-up, users who hadn’t upgraded or switched OS or hardware were being sternly warned of impending armageddon. 

Three months ago, Google Cloud Print started knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door. The popular platform officially entered deprecation on 21 November 2019 and will shut down forever-ever on 31 December 2020.

Meanwhile here at PaperCut, Version 17 is approaching its EOL announcement in a few months. (FYI Version 16 met its maker last April).

What’s the big deal about EOL again?

Decline is just part of the product cycle. EOL is the inevitable final step after development, growth, and maturity. It doesn’t mean your software will just stop working. It does mean extra vulnerability to security threats, among other issues. 

For some of us, upgrading isn’t as simple as clicking a button. It’s understandable when you’d rather just duke it out with your existing software.

However, the risks of using outdated software will eventually outweigh the reward:

  • Security threats
  • Incompatibility
  • Regulation
  • Cost
  • Degradation

Avoiding EOL is like avoiding a car service. Sure, your vehicle hasn’t broken down yet, but the risk inflates with each trip. 

Look, we’ve all hit ‘Pause Update’ on our phone to the point where it eventually takes three hours to install. Any inconvenience makes software EOL feel like a Dr. Evil plan to unnecessarily update. “I don’t need the latest ‘whiz-bang’ release, my humble previous version is working perfectly fine, thank you very much.” 

So we don’t want to just bang on about the doom and gloom of running EOL software. We’d rather break down why software companies phase out their older software over time.

5 reasons why old software versions are retired

1) Software needs to match the pace of hardware

Technology develops rapidly. We know this. We want new and shiny things and we want them yesterday. 

Manufacturing meeting that demand means software is constantly playing catch-up. 

With all the resources and manpower nipping at the heels of cutting-edge hardware, older software becomes less in-demand. Patches and fixes become more time-consuming and untenable to address. Companies would need to hire extra staff just to keep older versions running, and that doesn’t make business sense.

2) New features are a response to user needs

The niftier side of software updates is sparkly new features. Print Deploy, to use a random example off the top of my head, was a direct response to PaperCut user needs. 

The customer is in the driver’s seat when it comes to advancing software. Updates and their corresponding advancements are simply facilitated by the company.

3) Modern problems are more complicated in dated software

As technology advances around us, the troubleshooting we undertake advances too. 

BYOD printing wasn’t an issue in 2010, but in 2015 the demand for a simpler BYOD solution had peaked. 

To continue with random examples off the top of my head, if BYOD is a problem for you in 2020 but you’re using a pre-Mobility Print release of PaperCut, your modern problems have exceeded your hardware. 

4) Developers need to meet the sophistication of cybercriminals

As technology evolves so does malware and the skills of naughty hackers. 

Developers are constantly in the middlegame of an intricate chess match with cybercriminals. Older software is ripe low-hanging fruit for hackers and their ilk. 

Newer simply means more secure.

5) Balancing FOMO vs FOC

It’s completely understandable why we resist updating software. It’s why 39% of Windows users were still using Windows 7 the day it entered End of Life. We want things to just work. We don’t want to learn some new fandangled software. 

Meanwhile, it seems like companies somersault with jazz-hands about their latest major build and the features you simply must have!

It’s textbook Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) vs Fear of Change (FOC). Companies advise, “Don’t miss out on patches, fixes and new features!” Users bellow back, “But I already know how to use my version!” 

Where FOMO doesn’t strike and FOC takes over at the wheel, you’ll eventually have change forced upon you.

How to approach EOL

To avoid ending up like the aforementioned 39% of Windows users, enact an EOL plan. Start by scoping your respective softwares’ EOL policies and announcement schedules. Then you can assess your migration. 

For us at PaperCut, End of Life is just part of the journey and we don’t want anybody left behind.

If you have Version 16 or lower, we have all the info you need on how to upgrade. Version 17 users can keep an eye out for the upcoming EOL announcement in the next couple of months.

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