September 06, 2012
"On Obsolescence" — by Will Martin
The essay below was sent at 8:57 a.m. today as an open email to members of my local Mac users group.
It is excellent.
Not one word of the original has been omitted.
Geek alert: The following post is not for technophobes. These are not the droids you are looking for. Move along. (Delete post.)
Since 1987, I've noticed that the vast majority of computers get replaced for good reasons every 3-5 years. In the early days, I was only referencing machines running DOS or Windows. I didn't really work with Macs until 2001.
Windows machines still are best replaced or seriously upgraded every 3-5 years, except for intentionally crippled hardware, like cheap netbooks that are already so close to obsolete that they are good for 1-3 years. Macs are more like 4-6 years.
There are Windows machines that go longer than 5 and Macs that go longer than 6, but those are either machines that were extremely high-end when purchased, and they don't really have high-end requirements for functionality now, or regular machines where people have low enough expectations that they don't need the newer versions of software that won't run on the old system, and don't need to access external systems that rely on newer software than will run on the machine.
The 32-bit/64-bit issue will make a lot of Windows machines obsolete earlier than usual because of the limit on installed RAM within 32-bit versions of Windows (and upgrading to 64-bit Windows on one that now has the 32-bit version is not that much less of a hassle than moving to a new computer).
I'm personally watching the gentle edge of Mac obsolescence. I have a 32-bit Intel iMac (2006) that runs Snow Leopard without capacity for further upgrade. It started with Tiger. I have a MacBook (late 2007) that runs Lion without capacity for upgrade. It started with Leopard. I have a Mini (2012) running Mountain Lion. It started with Lion Server, though the Server app doesn't run in Mountain Lion. The Mini is also the only one that can run X-Plane, the flight simulator.
The iMac running Snow Leopard is still quite useful. It can't do anything with iCloud. It still runs the last decent version of Quicken, but if Quicken actually came up with a new Mac version that didn't stink, it probably wouldn't work on that computer. It still works for email, Web surfing, etc. and one person can still enjoy watching movies on its 17" screen. It would work for iChat, if I could convince any of the people I like being in touch with to use it. My wife would not forgive me for getting rid of this computer. It's likely going to be repurposed when she gives her MacBook to her daughter. She'll either use it or the Mini as her primary computer.
The MacBook works with iCloud for Safari bookmarks, iCal, Address Book, and PhotoStream, so these are synchronized with the Mini and my work computer. I also use Pages and Numbers, though I don't use them a lot. The Mini, my iPod Touch, and my iPad all synch documents in Pages and Numbers via iCloud. The MacBook doesn't. I can use the icloud.com Web site to drag and drop documents between the MacBook and the iCloud stuff, but this isn't really "synchronizing", and I have reasons to want it synchronized.
So, the iMac is still quite useful, though there's stuff I can't do on it. I can do more on the MacBook, and I can do more than that on the Mini. I weigh the cost against the benefit.
This is also why I own so many computers. I want the functionality of the newer stuff, but the old stuff still works too well for too many functions to justify sending it onward to be recycled.
I had no problems when my last Dell got old. I cloned it to a virtual machine on my MacBook and sent it on to be recycled. Also, I bought computers for each of my three step-children. The two who picked Macs are still using them. The one who picked a Dell tossed it years ago and has no computer now. It was hit by a virus and was useless to her for months until I cleaned it up for her, and I think it got hit by another one not too long after that and she was too embarrassed to bring it up until they had physically disposed of the machine. And yes, it had antivirus software on it.
September 6, 2012 at 02:01 PM | Permalink
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I extended the life of my 2008 MacBook Pro 17" by at least two years when I replaced the hard drive with a SSD. It has given it long lost zip.
Posted by: Fred | Sep 7, 2012 11:27:42 PM
Posted by: sherlock | Sep 6, 2012 9:00:31 PM
On the other side of the coin,
I have clients using 8-11 year old PC's (no parts ever replaced)
using XP for banking, Email, photos, etc. without missing a beat.
Sure they need attention occasionally (clutter, viruses, insufficient protection).
Things become obsolete more by advertisements then technology.
Posted by: JoePeach | Sep 6, 2012 6:39:17 PM
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