Yesterday, July 31, 2022, was actually a unique day in technology for those of a certain age. It was the “birthday” of one George Jetson of Saturday morning cartoon fame. “The Jetsons,” set in 2062, was all about what life would be like in the future (at a time when George was 40 years old). The show only lasted one season (24 episodes) but it had an oversized impact on how we think about technology.
While we don’t have jetpacks, flying cars, robotic maids or moving sidewalks — yet — slowly but surely, technology is entering every part of our life. Many of the items we rely on today are reflected in the technology George Jetson used: flat-screen televisions, video chats (or Facetime), smartwatches, drones (young Elroy looks like he’s in a drone heading to school), vacuums that operate themselves, digital newspapers, and talking alarm clocks.
Of course, with change comes obsolescence. One thing that never seemed to come up with the Jetsons was how people handled outdated software, delt with patches, and what they did with old cables everyone today seems to have tucked away.
Another issue that never comes up in TV land how to deal with technology that youlove but the vendor does not. Take Windows 8 Media Center, as an example. Show me someone who installed Windows 8 Media Center years ago and chances are you’re talking about someone who still loves it. And yet, not only does it get routinely broken by updates, Microsoft included an end-of-life alert in the July updates. (Even the Wikipedia entry on Windows Media Center calls it a “defunct digital video recorder and media player.”)
Introduced in 2002 on Windows XP Media Center edition, it was included in Home Premium and Ultimate versions of Windows Vista as well as Windows 7 (excluding Starter and Home Basic). In Windows 8 and 8.1 Pro, you could install it as a paid add on. Finally, with Windows 10, Microsoft said goodbye to it, though there are ways to get the Media Center code installed even today.
KB5015874 and the July servicing stack update (KB5016264) include end-of-life reminders. First, Windows 8.1 is nearing the end of support (which happens on Jan. 10, 2023) and you’ll see the warning screen about that deadline after the security update. Second, after installing the update, users have found that the Media Center tuner is unable to record TV shows. User “Bertmace” on the GreenButton forums found that once he replaced a dll file with a version from before the update, the recording process worked again. “I replace the bad ehTrace .dll and everything is running fine and have both KB5015874 and KB5016264 installed to go back to 6.3.9600.16384 11/21/2014 ehTrace.dll, version: 6.3.9600.20473, is the cause of it it is in ehome folder,” Bertmace wrote.
Windows Home Server, Essentials Server, Storage Server Essentials and other products in the Home Server family are another platform that once had a large enthusiast base that got left behind with resources going to different products or even abandoned over the years. While the OEM version of Windows Storage Server Essentials has an extremely long support period, the reality is that the platform is becoming increasingly fragile and left behind. It’s important to remember that while Microsoft releases many products, they aren’t always built the same way or with exactly the same code.
For example, Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 has three editions: Essentials, Standard, and Workgroup. Essentials, released in 2014, has an extended support window through Oct. 10, 2023 and includes code it shares with Windows Home Server edition that performs workstation backup and automatic deduplication.
Windows Home Server and Windows Server essentials editions allowed users to remotely access their workstations by merely logging into a web portal. One issue I’ve seen on these platforms is that the Microsoft-supplied domain name — offered through GoDaddy — tends to break at least once a year when someone forgets to renew a certificate or moves the web services without re-enabling them. It’s clear this is no longer a product any team is assigned to monitor on a regular basis.
Media Center and the Home Server editions are just two examples of technology that, while popular, are being left behind. When that happens, it’s time to investigate alternatives.
It’s not just software, of course. There is the classic case of the floppy disk and CD rom drives. For years, I bought computers that had to have floppy disk drives— the older 5-¼-in. size drives. But even though technology has moved away from saving files on floppy drives, look on any computer program for a prompt to save the file and guess what is still used as the icon: a floppy disk. (The icon is often thought of as a Coke machine with a dispenser screen by younger computer users who have no idea what a floppy disk is – or was.)
As I said earlier, I don’t remember George Jetson having to deal with technology that went out of date. Here’s hoping that in another 60 years, we won;t have to either.
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