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Farewell, Old Software

Feb 3, 2008
Q. Dear Mr. Modem: I'm not having any luck reinstalling an old software program on my new computer. The program is about 12 years old and it's worked well up until now. I even tried installing the most recent version, but it's changed so much through the years, I didn't like it. Is there anything I can do, or have I reached the end of the line?

A. Mrs. Modem had a similar dilemma with a very old, DOS-era address book program she used since the primordial days of computing. I tried everything I could think of, including running the Windows Compatibility Wizard, but it just sneered derisively at my futile attempts. The situation was never resolved to Mrs. Modem's satisfaction--something I still hear about on occasion--however, I did take great pains to gently explain the inevitability of software obsolescence. It's a fact of digital life at times, and while it is occasionally possible to get a program to run on an operating system for which it was not designed, such resolutions are usually temporary, at best.

I would suggest taking another look at the current version which you installed successfully. Understandably, it won't be exactly like your old program, but surely it has some redeeming qualities. With the right mindset, I suspect that over time you will become comfortable with, and may actually grow to enjoy, the new version.

Out with the Old; In with the New

I regularly hear from users who are required, for one reason or another, to accept a new version of older software, and who resist it every step of the way. They complain that their old program used to perform a given task that the new version cannot perform, or they repeatedly express how the old program was so much better than the new version.

When you find yourself in that situation, you have a choice: You can resist the new program and speak disparagingly of it, but what does that accomplish? As lyrist Edwin Starr so eloquently wrote, "Absolutely nothin'." It's really a counterproductive exercise that only serves to reinforce a negative initial impression of the newer program.

A more productive approach is to accept the fact that the old program is gone forever, just as surely as Fluffy, your childhood cat, dog, or family rodent. You probably thought you would never recover from that loss, but with the passage of time, you did. (You did, didn't you?) So celebrate the memory of the old program, but embrace the reality of the new application. And while you're at it, try to resist continually comparing the new program with the old one. There comes a point when it's simply time to move on.

Once a level of acceptance is achieved, you will start to appreciate some of the features incorporated within the new program. Within a month's time, you will have successfully completed the transition to the new program and your beloved old program will be little more than a hazy, distant memory--not unlike the '60s are to Mr. Modem. Change is an integral part of computing and at the very core of technological evolution.

Thinking back a few years--okay, a few decades, if you want to pick nits--I remember being blissfully content with DOS. Then that fancy-shmancy Windows came along and ruined everything. In short order, all my DOS programs, all my beloved command-line entries that I knew so well were gone and I was suddenly forced to use a mouse. Through the passage of time, I warmed up to Windows and stopped complaining about--no, on second thought, I am still irritated about it.

I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your relationship with your old program has reached the end of the road, my friend. I wish I could offer some comforting words, but renowned philosopher Neil Sedaka probably said it best when he opined: "Breaking up is hard to do. Come-a come-a, down doo-bee-doo, down down."

Well, the first part, anyway.
About the Author
Mr. Modem (MrModem.com) is an author, syndicated columnist, radio host, and publisher of the wildly popular, always entertaining, Pulitzer-lacking weekly "Ask Mr. Modem" computer-help newsletter. Mr. Modem's columns appear in more than 300 publications and each month in "Smart Computing" magazine. Visit MrModem.com for additional information, to view a sample issue, or to subscribe.
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