Legacy Is Not As Broken As Always-New

Ah, dear old iPad. There you are, just bought about two years ago, and already you are practically ready to be thrown out. I am sorry, my dear friend, but it seems that your manufacturer doesn’t care too much about you anymore. So, as long as you can, you will be now degraded to the drawing pad for my daughter. Once my companion, now a piece of ancient machinery… sadly waiting until its time has come.

Nice heh? Could be Pulitzer material, don’t you think? I mean, didn’t you feel the tears well up? If that would’ve been read with a voice-over from Morgan Freeman, and as visuals you would see my dear old iPad seeing their, collecting dust, a nice zoom-out… we are talking the Oscar for best short film here.

And it is sad, though, but because of a whole different reason. Now, I have to admit, I didn’t buy my first-gen iPad two years ago. I actually bought it one year ago, second hand, together with an iPad 2, both to start testing websites with. But the rest is absolutely true.

When I updated the iOS to version 5 last year, I immediately noticed how uncomfortable the tablet started to behave. It got slow, started to show some irregular behavior, and it just lost the pleasant touch the iPad2 still had.

And not only that. With the coming of the iPad 2, suddenly, there were iPad 2 applications, and the iPad 1st gen became very quickly an afterthought, or better yet, a nuisance.

Look, I understand progress. And especially on the front of tablets, there is a lot of development and new technologies available. And it all gets faster, nicer, more beautiful. But still, in my own opinion Apple also shows their aggressive behavior once again… they don’t seem to care about people who have bought their products. People who have bought an iPad 2 years ago for $699, a lot of money for a lot of people, and Apple doesn’t seem to care about it anymore. Worse, the new iOS will not run on the iPad 1st gen anymore. Or, in other words, if you own one, you are on your own.

What? A device that cost $699 two years ago become redundant? And the newest version of the iOS will not even support it anymore… and that, after 2 years????

Again, I understand the drive for progress, innovation, and I do understand that especially when a platform is booming, there is a head-start to be made. So I do understand why Apple wants to push the development to new heights, but the legacy support is getting worse.

Legacy. In IT terms, that usually makes people shiver. Legacy means old stuff. It means old, often unstable and quirky stuff. I have worked with banks, government agencies, financial institutions, and believe me, a lot of the companies run on old software. Software that usually was custom-made, not always perfect, and then used. The terrible part of that is, that usually these developments came with huge price tags. And the fact that it was a lot of money these companies needed to pay for it, doesn’t mean that it was perfect software. No, more often than not the software was a disaster on its own. But it worked. And that was something to cheer for.

Now, picture that Microsoft would come in, after you just invested $250,000 in a bit of customized software, and mentioned that in the new Windows version, coming in two months, your software would not work. So, you could then do two things: 1) Pony up more dough to make it work, or 2) keep working with the old machines, eventually being cut off from the rest of the world because your OS would not fit the standards anymore.

Microsoft also knows that is not a solution. Which is why they are so successful within the enterprise world. Apple only supports up to about 3 years of their OS… If I am correct. Microsoft supports up to 12-14 years of their products.

Running a business is not a game. It is not standing in line at the Apple store to get the latest iPad or iPhone at midnight that it is released. It is filled with hard-working men and women, spending their hard-earned money to make an idea, a passion, work. It is no wonder that enterprises are not happy to include Apple in their network flow. Usually, for bigger enterprises, accepting a new piece of hardware or software takes up to a year or more. If, by the time the piece is accepted, new versions are already available, it forms a threat. Especially if it is about the ‘wannahaves’ – the gadgets you need to have the latest version of – it simply imposes a huge security risk. And not only that, it costs a lot of resources to make it work.

I own the iPads simply as a stand alone testing device. I cannot afford it to become part of my company’s essential development platform? The fact that Apple has quit the server business actually emphasizes for me that I cannot trust the company with core-business activity.

Too bad, they make beautiful pieces of hardware. I love to use my iPad 2. I have it with me all the time. And my daughter doesn’t care the iPad 1 is not the fastest, it works perfectly fine for her.

But it is sad that a company claims the luxury to treat their paying clients like that. Even if they would have decided to unlock the older iPads, so that the open source community can take over – still under support of Apple – it would generate tons of new content for the first iPad generation and joy for the users.

I have an 11-year-old Dell laptop, running amazingly smooth under Ubuntu. I own a five-year old Quad-Core windows desktop, running Windows 7 wonderfully and is one of the main workstations in my office. And even when I upgrade to Windows 8 I still know that everything that is on it will work perfectly well. It is that piece of trust that makes me feel comfortable with Microsoft. Sure, they might not move that fast in the consumer electronics world as Apple does, but you know what? That is fine by me. It is solid, and I know that when I buy hardware to be part of my business, I can use it for many years before I have to throw it out. And one thing I know for sure, it will never be Microsoft itself that tells me to throw it out because it is not good enough anymore.

So, Apple is wonderful for me as my local companion, take a long computing fix. Just, I should not get personally attached to it…

Still… I feel sorry for my old iPad. Poor thing…

What do you think? Would this posting be too long for my Oscar-Achievement speech?

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