Take the greatest code-rock dinosaur of all time: Microsoft. There are signs of creative differences at the heart of this supergroup -- for starters, Microsoft has just reorganised its Windows core code division, an odd thing to do half-way through recording the massive Longhorn project.
Then there are the worrying album sales: a recent survey of nearly 400,000 PCs in 670 companies by US consultants AssetMetrix showed that Windows XP has totally failed to impress -- at a piddling 6.6 percent penetration, it's by some way the least popular version. Even R&B classics NT4 and Windows 95 manage more than twice that, at 13.3 and 14.7 percent apiece. The most popular? The Dark Side Of The Moon of the OS world, Windows 2000, running on over half the computers checked.
Even in the home market, where nobody's had much of a choice of operating system for a while, there's been no thundering rush to upgrade. Google reports that while Windows XP is the most popular operating system used by searchers at 38 percent, Windows 98 is not far behind at 29. That's a five-year-old operating system holding its end up most persuasively in an Internetted, digital-media-rich environment very different from that of 1998.
You can if you wish tip your hat to Microsoft for producing such a flexible, extensible and useful OS: I'm not sure you'll be thanked. The company finds itself in the role of ageing rockers previewing difficult new material to an audience who just want the old favourites, the lead singer snarling in frustration when the calls come up from the crowd.
But there are good reasons why the golden oldies keep striking the right chord. Software doesn't wear out the more you use it. Quite the opposite: once you've got it doing what you want, it'll do it until the end of time -- or until something else comes along and spoils the song. Everything's hunky-dory until there are changes.