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Six Clicks: Dead software we loved (Gallery)

I come not to praise these programs, but to bury them. And, boy, from the smell of some of these -- they really need to be buried!
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1 of 6 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Lived free and died hard

I wish to complain about this Norweigan XP what I purchased not five years ago from this very Website.

What's wrong?

What's wrong! E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-OPERATING SYSTEM!!

Seriously, people (and with apologies to Monty Python and their Dead Parrot), I know 37 percent of you who are now using XP plan to keep using it. I also know some of you are planning on how to keep using XP "safely," even though Microsoft is no longer supporting it.

Stop. XP is dead. Yes, like a zombie, you could keep it going but every day you do you're just asking for more trouble. You have watched The Walking Dead right?

Enough of hanging on to the past! Move to Windows 7, try a Mac, check out a Chromebook, heck follow me over to Linux Mint. Do anything except stick with XP!

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2 of 6 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

There no Word to describe it

You know what other wildly popular program is now pushing up the daisies? Office 2003. I understand how you still want to use. I really do. You've used it for ages, you hated the newer ribbon interface, and—darn it! — it just works.

All that said, here's the problem: Hackers are now much more likely to come at you through old applications than they are through operating systems these days. () That means you can expect to see Office 2003 specific malware-infected Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint Presentations anytime now.

If you love the look and feel of Office 2003, I suggest you give the free LibreOffice a try. It looks and feels a lot like Office 2003 and the bad macros and the like that would zap Office 2003 will bounce off it.

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3 of 6 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Old software never dies, it just fades away

If you're in mourning for Office 2003, it might help to remember that it's far from the first wildly popular office program to bite the bullet. There was a time when many of my friends and co-workers needed Lotus 1-2-3 even more than they did their first morning cup of coffee. They got over it. By the time,

Lotus 1-2-3- went to the great software cemetery in 2013, it was barely noticed.

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4 of 6 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Mercy killing

Way, way before we ever cared about Big Data, some of us had this idea that "Big Data" was data you could fit onto a 360K floppy disk. In those long ago days, Ashton-Tate's dBASE was the database management system of choice for the PC set . Ashton-Tate fumbled their lead with the ill-prepared release of dBASE IV in 1988. In less than two years Ashton-Tate went from market-leader to market has-been.

Still to this very day, there are programs out there running 30+ year old dBASE code. Oh, the programs may have a new coat of paint, but underneath them there lies the cold, dead, but still beating heart of dBASE.

Scary isn't it?

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5 of 6 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

FoxPro rotted away

Unfortunately for Ashton-Tate, a competitor, Fox Software, came out with a superior clone: FoxPro. It too was very popular, but then Microsoft acquired the company and FoxPro, and its successor, Visual FoxPro. Whoops.

Before that, FoxPro was everything you could want in a PC-based DBMS and more. Afterwards... well you see Microsoft had this other program called SQL Server. Visual FoxPro became the red-haired stepchild of Microsoft DBMSs and Version 9, released in 2004, and last updated in 2007, slowly rotted away. To this day, I know a few programmers who are still working in Visual FoxPro, but for all real purposes it's a dead program walking.

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6 of 6 Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Beat itself to death

What's that you ask? Aren't I the guy who's always talking about how Linux rules? Well, yeah, I am, but that's Linux, not Unix. Way back before Tux, the Linux penguin, chased Linus Torvalds around, Unix was everywhere.

Today, Unix is on its way to being nowhere. Every time IDG, Gartner or one of the other big server companies checks in on operating system popularity they find Unix's market-share going down — usually by double-digits. So why is Linux, which started as a Unix clone, so successful while Unix slowly circles the drain of technology irrelevance?

Well, I was there, so I'll tell you. The Unix companies then, and now, get along as well as cats and dogs placed in a bag and tossed into a river to fend for themselves. The Unix companies hated each other. There were alliances and attempts to find common ground. Instead, we ended up with wars between groups such as Unix International and the Open Software Foundation and battles between approaches to the operating system: BSD vs. System V. 

And all the time they were slashing at each other, Bill Gates stood to one side, rubbing his hands, and slowly but surely taking their market-share away from them.

Unix isn't dying a natural death. It killed itself with its infighting. Fortunately, for those who liked the Unix approach to software, Torvalds came along to give us Linux, but Unix itself? Put a fork in it. It's done.

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