Before we start, please understand that this article also deals with operating systems (OS), in particular Windows, but the principles can apply to any software, application, or OS.
When you hear or receive a notification that your software is nearing the end of its useful life, it’s a little confusing. It sounds so definitive as if your software will just stop working on a certain date at a certain time. Rest calmly, as it is not. The term is just very dramatic. We’ll discuss what this actually means later in the article.
First, let’s take a look at what’s called the product lifecycle.
What is the product life cycle?
Any product you can buy has a life cycle and therefore a limited lifespan. It consists of four stages: development, growth, maturity and decline.
- Development – that’s how it sounds. This is the period during which software is developed and initially sold, implemented, or sold. At this point, the software may still have minor issues or lack functionality.
- Growth. As awareness of software grows and software becomes more stable, it enters a growth phase. Software sales or distribution are starting to accelerate. Since software is something that can be changed during use, some additional updates and a few features may be added.
- Maturity – The software has peaked in sales or distribution. The software is continually supported, but overall there are no major updates or feature improvements.
- Rejection – For a variety of possible reasons, software sales and distribution are beginning to decline. The reason may be that it is no longer needed, a better competing product has appeared, it does not meet the user’s needs, or for other reasons. The thing is, it doesn’t sell that well.
If you depicted this process by the number of sales or allocated units, it might look something like this:
You can see that the recession is not conducive to good business. At some point, people who publish software simply have no compelling reason to keep releasing or supporting it.
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A good publisher will make a public end-of-sale announcement detailing the end-of-sale (EoS) date and EoL date.
What is the end date of the sale?
The short answer is the date on which the publisher stops selling or distributing the software. It is often also the date the last update of any kind will be released. It will no longer be sold or downloaded on official sales channels. You will also no longer be able to receive a quote for the cost.
However, this does not always mean that the software is being taken off the shelves of the retailers selling it. Although there is no more boxed software. However, keep in mind that by buying a version of the software that has been released over the course of several years, you might end up with something that is already EoS or almost EoL.
What is the end of life?
When a software or application enters a recession phase in the product lifecycle, the end of life is near. It happens somewhere in this phase. Sometimes closer to the beginning of the recession, and sometimes they hold on to the very end.
This decision depends on their values. This is usually preceded by the end of the sale moment when you can no longer buy or receive the software.
EoL means any or even all of the following for this application, OS, or software:
- Major feature releases may be supported for a fixed period of time after the EoL date .
- Technical support, workarounds, and bug fixes will be discontinued.
- Support between EoS and EoL may only be available to those with a paid support contract.
- Online support documentation, wikis or forums may be archived or taken offline on an EoL date or other specified date.
- Feature requests will not be accepted.
- Confirming installed programs does not work.
- Formal software training may not be available.
What are the problems that could cause me to have end-of-life software?
You might look at the list above and think, â€œIt doesn’t really matter. The software is still working and will have all the necessary updates. Plus, I already know how to use it, and there are many other forums and blogs with information about it. Why should I buy the latest version? Â»
This is the correct way to look at it. However, this is an incomplete way to look at it.
Let’s take a look at some of the problems that EoL can give you.
This is probably the most important reason. Just because your software or operating system was missing 15 years ago does not mean that all holes have been fixed. Most likely, not even all holes have been found.
Scott Kinka, CTO of Evolve IP, gave a frank explanation for this when he was quoted on tomsguide.com in the article “Is Windows XP Safe for Business?”
Kinka said because Microsoft will no longer send updates for the old Windows XP: â€œJust imagine that someone is on your computer while you work. Every password, trade secret and piece of personal information is at risk. ”
Keep in mind that Windows XP is now 18 years old, and according to NetMarketShare.com, it is still installed on about 4% of computers worldwide. Sounds a little, but let’s say there are a billion desktops in the world. Four percent of a billion is 40 million computers. Someone in homes, someone in factories. This is a big problem.
If that wasn’t enough, holes that go unnoticed in EoL software may be in a newer version as well.
Roger A. Grimes’s article, “The Problem Is Not Zero Days, But Patches,” explains how hackers look at fixes to find a vulnerability they need to fix. Why? Because many of these fixes don’t apply and they definitely don’t apply to EoL software because there are no fixes available. Thus, the patch becomes like a flash in the sky, showing where the problem is and how to use it.
Of course, this is terrible for an old operating system, but is software such a big problem? Yes, if this software interacts with the Internet in any way, that’s just as big a hole. Most office suite programs can connect to the Internet or receive files from the Internet, which can open holes. Don’t forget that web browsers are software too!
Regulatory or Legal Issues
Regulatory or legal matters
Whether you’re running a business away from home or just using software for things like your tax return, you can run into regulatory or legal challenges.
Let’s say you are using accounting software that has migrated to EoL. It no longer receives the updates it needs to comply with tax and commercial laws. Thus, the files and information that it prepares may not comply with current regulations. This can lead to missed tax refunds, rejected tax returns, or even audits and fines. You don’t need this.
Another example: you are doing a medical transcript at home. If some old software has left your computer open to hackers, you may be losing very personal health information and not knowing about it. However, you are still responsible for this.
This is usually a minor issue, but very frustrating when someone sends you a file that is incompatible with your software.
Imagine a spreadsheet of bonuses done in Excel 365, but all you have is Excel 2010. The 365 features might not work in 2010, so you don’t know what your bonus will be.
Worse still would be to submit your resume done in an old version of Word and all the formatting will fall apart because the employer is using Office 365. How awful would that be?
Everything degrades over time. Software is no exception. How this happens is a topic worth dedicating to another article, but it happens nonetheless. Over time, you find that the application crashes more and more often and you lose your work.
Strange errors creep in making it difficult to do what you are trying to do. Do you really need frustration and wasted time? Of course not.
Again using Microsoft Office as an example, how are you going to keep your skills up to date if you are still working on Office 2003 and most of the world has moved to Office 365. Office 365 is about 16 years newer and has features and integrations that you couldn’t dreaming back in 2003.
The better you are at the latest versions of software and operating systems, regardless of your occupation, the more competitive you will be in the job market. This means a better job and a better pay. If your work is technical in nature, even more so.
How much money will it cost to use EoL software? We’ve already seen that this can cost you job opportunities, waste your time, and even put you in legal danger.
All of these things come back to money out of your pocket, literally or at opportunity cost. But there may be other costs associated with maintaining your computer.
If you are using EoL software, it can cause problems with your new operating system. Finding out that this is old software is beyond the power of the average person, so you may end up taking it to your nearest computer store.
If you are lucky, this store will have experienced technicians who will know how to quickly diagnose the problem and recommend you to update your software.
However, there is a reason why most people start their IT careers in the computer service departments of large retail stores. It’s as simple as it gets, so the chances are high that the technology will take longer than it takes to figure out what’s going on, leading to a bigger bill.
In addition, they will continue to recommend that you update your software. Save time and money and just update as soon as you know the EoL date.
How do I know if my program is nearing the end of its life?
If you registered your software or subscribed to updates, you may receive multiple emails prior to the EoL date.
If you know your software is out of date and are starting to hear about a new version coming out, you need to go to the developer’s website and find the EoL date for your version. Or you can go to a search engine and find it there.
For your convenience, here are some of the EoL pages for several major software vendors:
Microsoft – Search Product Life Cycle
Adobe End of Life Matrix
Google Apps End of Life Announcements
https://gsuiteupdates.googleblog.com/ look for ‘end of life’
Google Chrome OS devices
Google Pixel and Nexus devices
Vintage and Legacy Apple Products
(Apple is not very happy about EoL dates like other companies.)
Yes, you should be concerned with the end of life of the program
In conclusion, yes, you must care. You should take care of your time, money, privacy, peace of mind, and yourself in general.
For the cost of one night out of every 3-5 years, you can avoid all the pitfalls that EoL software, applications and operating systems can bring to your life. Isn’t it worth it?