Don't Let Upgrades Get You Down

Don’t Let Upgrades Get You Down

Don’t Let Upgrades Get You Down

Sold on the promise of unlimited connectivity to all my music on all of my devices, I bought into the iCloud. Without reading much about iCloud beyond the name and then deducing that anything Apple produces must be perfect and work exactly as my fanciful mind could imagine, I dropped some cash on OS X Lion and proceeded to upgrade my computer so it could support this new magical creation. What I soon discovered after three and a half hours of downloads, installs, and reboots on an early Sunday morning was that my head was in the cloud, not my music. And, to make the situation worse, my computer no longer functioned like the computer I once owned. It was actually about 50% of the machine I knew and loved for so long. I couldn’t even look at it without sighing heavily and bowing in defeat.

The sequence of events following my upgrade has been mentally painful and costly. I lost support for my Adobe Creative Suite and had to purchase a new version. My monitor calibration device is not supported, either. I have ceased backing up my machine because my Mac was no longer compatible with our NAS box software. Flash video plays terribly and requires a system reboot to jump-start my graphics acceleration to previous performance levels. Windows have forgotten their zip and are choppy when minimized and maximized. And worst of all? The tens of thousands of songs I had access to from our music library on our server sit unplayable and untouched because OS X Lion and our server don’t want to place nicely with each other.

Oh, but I do have unfettered access to all the songs I purchase from iTunes, which total three. They are “Real Love” by Mary J. Blige and two others I’m embarrassed to name. If I want to upload my music to iCloud, I can purchase a service called iTunes Match, which is still in Beta, for  $24.99 a year. They will then match my songs on my music library with songs they have in iTunes. If there’s a match, I will be able to listen to it from all supported devices. Ugh. So, this means obscure CDs I ripped from previous purchases have to be labeled properly or be part of a known collection. Okay, that might bring the total to 20 songs I can access via the cloud. I am stricken with utter sadness.

Not all has been in vain, though. While in my depths of despair, I finally understood why Windows XP just won’t die. And why so many of our customers can’t transition off of it. Imagine if they made a similar software upgrade to not just one, but to multiple machines deployed in the field? It wouldn’t just be a slight monetary inconvenience to an Apple fan-girl like myself. It could cost them tens of thousands in down-time and support calls. Maybe even millions if they depend on these machines to generate direct revenue, like paid advertising on digital displays. What would their customers say if performance suddenly dropped or support for peripherals went kaput? If features they relied upon to do their job no longer existed? Or, if a software upgrade meant having to now buy the latest hardware or developing new applications for their hundreds of factories, kiosks, displays, or municipalities? These are all very bad scenarios, right?

Yes, it is the customer’s responsibility, just like it was mine, to do his research before upgrading to ensure the system will continue to work as expected. Or better yet, prototype on a new system and test its compatibility with legacy devices. As an individual end-user, I can’t be bothered. And Apple has no reason to continue to support older PowerPC applications. I mean, it’s been since 2006 when Apple moved onto an Intel processing platform for its computers. That’s like an eternity in the consumer technology world. However, if I were working for an organization that required an upgrade to one of our hardware platforms, it would be imperative I do my research. My job and my customers’ jobs depend on it. But in this situation, there is an expectation for the manufacturer I’m working with to take me through a seamless upgrade path with as few technical roadblocks as possible.

And why would I expect that? Because here we strive to provide long-term support platforms, systems and components offering legacy I/O, and Windows XP licenses (likely until the end of time) so our customers don’t find themselves in the situation I found myself in the other day. We do this because our customers need to be up and running, always. Our success depends on their success. This is why you’ll continue to find older VIA C7 and Intel Core 2 Duo (Napa) mainboards on our website.

Oh the plight of being an end-user. Upgrades are a risk, but in order to utilize the latest and greatest technology they are risks worth taking. Ultimately, I am satisfied with my new OS, despite all the headaches it’s caused. And, call me crazy, I have no intention of leaving the Apple platform. But I do have an immense respect for hardware vendors and manufacturers who continue to put components on their boards that make end-users like me snicker. And for Microsoft, who has repeatedly brought back Windows XP from the brink of extinction enabling system integrators to continue to support their customers, I salute you.

What about you? Have any software/hardware upgrade horror stories you want to tell? Share those with us in the comments!

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