Does Microsoft’s software expire?

In Michael says “stick with the old stuff” Robert Scoble says:

Believe it or not, there’s no way we can force you to upgrade (nor should there be).

But, in every area he talks about I believe I can show pretty deep value for a whole range of businesses. I couldn’t live without the new Outlook, for instance. Why? The old one has a 2GB PST limit. The new one has none.

Actualy, I think this is a great example that proves the exception. This is a case where Microsoft is forcing users to upgrade.

Perhaps not now, but at some point in the future it will be untenable to maintain a less than 2GB off-line storage. Consider requirements for document retention in the corporate environment. By releasing the > 2GB capacity in such a way that you must upgrade to retain it, Microsoft is “forcing” upgrades on some customers. Another such example is the Windows Product Family Product Lifecycle. By the very concept of ending support (and therefore bug fixes) on products, Microsoft is ensuring the necessity of upgrades.

That’s not to say that I think they’re wrong. In point of fact, I don’t know how I feel. Every time I have to support someone trying to use Office code that I’ve written in a 5+ year-old version of an office product I wish those folks would upgrade. That, of course, brings up a whole different problem….

The real point here is that the concept of “forcing” an upgrade isn’t easily defined in the current IT environment. Sure, Microsoft doesn’t (currently) have a ticking time-bomb in any of their software that makes it stop working after a certain date, but some sets of features can swiftly become requirements, forming a de facto software expiration scheme.