Slyfoot (slyfoot) wrote in oldware,

Why Oldware?

If you're like me, you cringe when you read things like "Who uses DOS any more?" or "NOBODY uses that old dinosaur app now!" At such times I've taken to repeating this motto like a mantra: Just because it's old doesn't mean it's useless.

Upgrades aren't always upgrades. Many software companies release new software with Big Business in mind, and provide many new options in hyped-up commercial releases that the average computer hobbyist never really needs to use. In some cases the release is so ridiculously huge that the term bloatware springs to mind. If you've ever compared a newer version to an older version of an application and thought Wow, the old version is smaller, faster, it still works, and it does everything I really need! then you'll feel right at home in this community. Just because it's old doesn't mean it's useless.

Do you have a fond attachment to an old 386 laptop that still works, but slowly? Have you ever wondered how to get every ounce of productivity out of it? If so, then you'll feel right at home in this community. Do you have an old black and white Macintosh with 4 megs of memory, and you're wondering where to ask questions about it because people ridicule you when you admit to wanting to use it? You're in the right place.

Software, unlike hardware, doesn't really get old. As long as the bits and bytes don't become corrupt, they can be transferred to newer machines with newer environments, and still put to good use. And it should come as no surprise that an old game that would fit on a floppy with plenty of room to spare can be more addictive and entertaining than the latest mega-hyped first person shooter that will barely fit on a CD-ROM. This is the place to talk about those old games--the classic games that many people know about, along with the obscure games that you found on a BBS archive of freeware and shareware.

This community is not about promoting "warez." And as for "abandonware", the mods of this community will take a neutral position on the ethics of downloading abandonware. As for the legality, thus far there appears to be no legal definition of the term, but abandonware is generally considered to be software which is 1) older than a certain number of years and 2) no longer distributed for sale by the copyright holders. All too often sites are disingenuously labeled "abandonware" as a cover for distributing "warez", or copies of commercial software which are still being sold by the copyright holders. That is where the line is usually drawn between abandonware and warez, and that is where we shall draw it.

How old is old? A year for a game or application can be loosely compared to 5 years in human life. It isn't a hard-and-fast rule, of course, because how can you really quantify such things? But, in general, a program which is 10 years old is like a 50 year old man--getting along in years, but still useful!--and a 15 year old program is like a senior citizen at the ripe old age of 75 years old. But as I've said before, software doesn't really become old as long as the bits and bytes aren't corrupt, and you can potentially get a lot of productivity out of a 15 year old program just as you can from a 75 year old man. The analogy isn't perfect because a 75 year old man can mature intellectually whereas an old program stays the same, but the fundamental point I'm trying to reinforce is that old isn't necessarily useless.

So why oldware? If it's useful, then why not?
Tags: coffee talk
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