It’s the nature of time that the old ways must give in
It’s the nature of time that the new ways comes in sin
When the new meets the old it always ends the ancient ways
And as history told the old ways go out in a blaze!
Shiroyama – The Last Stand, Sabaton
This article will be a little different then the standard news pieces that are generally put out on this site, and I hope you will indulge me on a bit of news and additional editorial esk statements. Also a chance to quote some Sabaton! \m/
First up is and as many of you may already know. Is that support for the Windows 7 operating system is ending after a 10 year run. Personally it has been one of my favorite Windows O.S. systems and it is killing me to talk about this. Windows 7 made gaming and work productivity easy and while Windows 10 has come along ways in its development. It is not as retro friendly or as all encompassing desktop focused O.S. as Win 7.
Windows 7 brought an ease of use with many features that are lost or not standard or common with Win 10. Chief among them, (and for me personally,) was XP Compatibility Mode and Virtual Machine with Win 7 Ultimate or Pro, etc. (Again I know Win 10 has Virtual Machine compatibility now and there are tricks to get things working but is not as straight forward as 7 was.)
With Windows 7 Ultimate, XP Compatible Mode, Virtual Machine and DOSBox. I could effectively cover every Windows era of gaming from DOS/Win 3.1, Win98, WinXP, and mostly current games with one Windows 7 based computer. For some users, this is a big deal. While for others, they will just recommend something along the lines of dual booting O.S.’s, (which I am personally planning) but for some of those Windows 7 users still holding on to their beloved O.S. This may be a task that is a bit too technical for some, needlessly complicated, or an extra hassle. Especially when they are use to an operating system that just works.
Windows 10 has been known to break many games or having no compatibility with those games period. As in example some classic games on GoG.com aka (Good Old Games.com) have been documented as having issues running or having no support for Windows 10. Other features and functions throughout the years of forced updates and incompatibility have exacerbated these issues. Much like the switch from Windows XP to Vista, gaming based users are hesitant to submit themselves to such hassle. Of course Window 7 is not ceasing to exist nor will stop functioning properly come the 14th of January, but the everyday use and internet viability makes any user still operating Win 7 vulnerable to malicious attack without support from Microsoft.
I again want to point out that I am acutely aware of the advancements made more recently with Windows 10. There are many tutorials and guides showing how to disable the spyware and ads. Furthermore there has been great progress to try to get classic games working on Windows 10, however there are some that still need help. Despite this I will argue that with all of this effort. It is still not the same. Like CRT’s to LCD’s, there is a bit of magic and essence lost between the two O.S.’s.
Windows 7 was a great operating system, made to fix the issues with Vista. While bringing in more compatibility with the likes of Win XP and stability in an age before tablets and the watering down or blurring lines between computing, tablets, phones, or general portables. It was the last great purpose built Windows made for and only for computers, and I will miss it as my primary daily use O.S.
This sad news does not end with just Windows 7 as support for other well known computer features will soon sunset too. Adobe’s Flash, will no longer be supported by the end of 2020 and with modern web browsers no longer supporting the feature. This could leave older websites (that have not been updated) unable to be viewed or utilize the content that it once showed. I know for many readers this may not be a big issue, but I wanted to draw attention to it because for many of us. The internet era that many grew up or came of age with. Will come to an end.
I think back to sites like Newgrounds, which will continue as they update their site, but older sites that may not be maintained well could become not view able as browser makers end flash support. Flash movies could also be effected, which Newgrounds has addressed with its SWF to Video converter called Swivel, but users have to go through. Convert each one, and reupload those movies back to be non flash.
On recently hearing this, I went back to enjoy some old flash movies only to discover that many are sadly missing. Broken links or dead links to files that are no longer hosted or anywhere to be found (Anyone remember those funny early 2000’s Counter Strike flash movies???). While doing research on this topic I stumbled on another news topic with an article from Ernie Smith from VICE.com discussing the imminent or planned end of various software repositories and FTP access via web browsers (Chrome & Firefox).
If a company takes down their older files containing, firmware, drivers, update patches, feature addons, etc. It makes for supporting and using older hardware all that more difficult. This is not to say that FTPs are ending in of themselves, nor are you losing the ability to use FTP’s in your classic OG XBOX mods for example. However searching and using them via web browsers will make the viability of FTP and sharing data even harder.
As I collect and utilize older tech. I realize the importance of not just the hardware itself, but the software, drivers, firmware updates that really helped to unlock it’s full potential. We continuously risk the chance that perfectly workable classic hardware tech, can no longer be supported due to the disappearance of software, websites, and data repositories. A classic retro motherboard for example, like the popular Super Socket 7 range could have valuable firmware updates that would allow users to get the most or full potential out of a specific model and chip set. Yet if those files where no longer available or found on the internet. That piece of hardware would be diminished.
Thankfully there are many out there who try to help combat this. Many people at the classic computer website VOGONS have pulled together to make a substantial software and driver library to cover many pieces of classic hardware. Furthermore members in the community like Phil’s Computer Lab have done the same as well as the Internet Archive stepping up to cover many FTP sites and repositories from the big tech companies.
What I want people to take from this article is a sense of agency when it comes to protecting data. Be mindful of software that you might have and its usefulness to others. Especially in the retro world. If you feel you might have old install disk/CD’s, or helpful files to some bit of tech that you have. It might be incredibly valuable to someone else in the community. Check for its availability or maybe help support places like the Internet Archive. Please, do not let valuable data disappear forever.