The Importance of Continuity: Backward Compatibility Case Studies

The Importance of Continuity: Backward Compatibility Case Studies

The iOS 11 upgrade is out, and for some users, that means their favorite apps and even their mobile device may no longer work. The iOS 11 update drops support for 32-bit apps, which means that any apps that haven’t upgraded to 64-bit since the iPhone 5s rollout of 2013 will no longer work with the new operating system. Additionally, older devices such as the iPhone 5, 5c and fourth-generation iPads can’t run on iOS11.

Apple has been warning developers this was coming for some time, so the majority of users shouldn’t be affected. However, there are times when backward compatibility, or lack thereof, can make a big difference. Here are three examples that illustrate how backwards compatibility can affect both consumers and businesses.

4G Compatibility with 2G and 3G

With 5G wireless on the horizon, most technology providers are gearing up for faster connectivity. But for the time being, the world is still running on 4G, and some consumers and businesses are still dependent on 3G or even 2G network connections, especially in remote and rural areas. That’s why the best technology providers take steps to make sure their products and services are backward-compatible for users running on slower networks.

For instance, mobile device component manufacturer Qualcomm is at the forefront of developing modems and processors ready for 5G speed, but they’re also working to make sure that 5G doesn’t leave users on older networks behind in the dust. For example, 4G LTE laptop units powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC Platform are not only equipped with the latest technology, but they also feature 4G LTE multimode with backward compatibility supporting legacy 2G and 3G network technologies. This ensures that users in rural areas on 2G and 3G networks, as well as users with a 4G laptop connection, can stay connected from any location.

Windows 10 Compatibility with Older Software

Whenever a major Windows upgrade rolls out, whether or not it will support apps for older versions of Windows is always a concern for consumers and businesses. That’s why Microsoft designed Windows 10 to be backward compatible with apps for most recent versions of Windows. Almost all programs that ran on Windows 7 or Windows 8 will also run on Windows 10, with some exceptions such as Media Center, which is no longer supported. Some apps designed for even older versions of Windows also run on Windows 10 without a problem.

You can even adjust some settings to help make Windows 10 more backward compatible with older software, technology writer Chris Hoffman explains. For instance, since users in the Windows XP era typically always ran their computers as administrators; one trick for running Windows XP apps on Windows 10 is to right-click the program shortcut or .exe file and select the option to run as administrator. You can also click a program’s properties tab to call up a compatibility troubleshooter that will help you adjust your settings to run the program. Running virtual machines and emulators are other options. You can even run old DOS applications with the DOSBox x86 emulator.

Gaming Backward Compatibility

Gamers are often the hardest hit by backward compatibility issues. When you’re used to your favorite game, it’s frustrating to find it suddenly won’t play on your latest upgrade. That’s why gaming providers take steps to provide backward compatibility for popular games and gaming platforms.

For instance, in November 2015, Microsoft introduced its Xbox One backward compatibility library, which enables users to play older Xbox 360 games on Xbox One. In September 2017, Microsoft added four “Halo” games to the library, along with “Call of Duty” and “Sonic Adventure” games.

About the author Ian Dixon:

Ian Dixon is a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional), founder of TheDigitalLifestyle.com tech site and producer of the weekly The Digital Lifestyle Show podcast. Ian has been writing and talking about Windows for over 10 years and has over 20 years in IT as an IT Manager. Ian has thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook and over 4 million views on his YouTube channel.


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