Outdated Software and Support

September 27th, 2012

I run outdated software on my home computer. I know it to be outdated (OS X 10.5). I have an old computer (going on 5 years) and though I could probably run the next two iterations of the OS, I just haven’t bothered. Yesterday, a problem came up in my browser and it got me off my duff to fix the problem.

While I was working on that though, I started browsing the support forums for the browser. I was reminded why I stopped working in support. People have a great sense of entitlement, it is one of our true American traits. I feel for the Chrome support team right now. Leopard is from 2007, but there are people on the support forums genuinely raging and accusing the Chrome team of being lazy. It brought back memories of the guy who got mad at me for not supporting Windows ME (a 2000 release) in 2007. That support call was over dial-up networking. That’s right. I got yelled at in 2007 for not helping a guy set up dial-up on his Windows ME box. Just like these Chrome users, the ME guy used the language of crowds. What did I mean I wouldn’t support this outdated software? “Millions” of people still used Windows ME and dial-up connections (despite not living in the country, which doesn’t [didn’t?] always have broadband available). Customer please. I could see from the account info he lived in a major metro area. He had no reason to expect that his software and connectivity situation would be fully supported. The same applies for OS 10.5 users. And how many of them actually use Chrome?

All of these people post on the support forums rage quitting Chrome. It’s sad really. I’d tell them on Google’s behalf what I told that customer. Software goes out of date, if you have out of date software, don’t expect it to be supported. A good rule of thumb is that 4-5 years after release of the software, the company will feel comfortable ignoring your cries for support. This is natural, most of their customer base will have moved to the new software in that time frame. The entire industry moves along and keeping everything working with setups that are 6+ years old leads to software bloat. It’s just not feasible.

Oh, and Google is a huge company while 10.5 users are a small base at this point. I don’t have solid numbers, but six months after 10.7 was released, it was estimated that 10.5 was 14% of the installed user base. We’re several months past the release of 10.8. What does that tell you. Apple’s laptop/desktop market is somewhere under 30% of the national user base. I don’t have the exact numbers, so I’ll aim low. If you’re less than 14% of 30% of the market, do the math. Even using really generous numbers, that still puts you at 4% of the total user base. (you aren’t) Don’t expect a lot of kowtowing from support. Being angry does not magically inflate the size of your software demographic, and unlike it would be with social demographics, it’s not bigotry if they run right over you.

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