Anyone using Family Tree Maker as their genealogy program probably has already seen this warning that now pops up when you launch the program:
We’re making updates that may impact your Family Tree Maker experience. Starting in October 2014, Ancestry Web Search within Family Tree Maker software will have reduced functionality or may not be supported by Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows Vista or Internet Explorer 8 or 9. Moving forward, Microsoft Windows 7 or 8 will be required for Ancestry Web Search functionality to work properly.
That can be jarring to anyone who uses Windows XP, Vista, or Internet Explorer version 8 or 9. However, I cannot blame Ancestry.com, the producers of Family Tree Maker. I think it is a wise move. I suspect many users of Family Tree Maker will disagree with me, however.
Windows XP was released in August, 2001. That’s 13 years ago. Windows XP has now been replaced three times (Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8), not counting the minor updates along the way. Windows XP is now three major releases out of date. In other words, it is ancient.
In fact, Windows XP was supported longer than any other operating system ever produced by Microsoft. Now the end is here.
Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP. If Ancestry or any other company encounters a programming problem or any other problem with Windows XP, Microsoft will no longer support them. That’s high risk for any business. Nobody wants to release and/or support a program when the underlying operating system’s producer will not back them up.
I would not want to be the CEO of a company that was selling software and trying to support it for an operating system that is no longer supported by the producer. That could be a headache for any software producer. We have already seen numerous programs outside of genealogy products announce that they will no longer support use of their product on Windows XP. We should not be surprised when we see similar announcements from a genealogy software producer.
The announcement does not say that Family Tree Maker will cease operating on Windows XP. In fact, Family Tree Maker probably will continue to operate well on the old operating system for a long time yet. The new announcement simply indicates that if a Family Tree Maker user who is running the program on Windows XP ever encounters a problem, Ancestry.com cannot guarantee a fix for it. Since Microsoft is not guaranteeing fixes for Ancestry.com, it makes sense that Ancestry.com cannot guarantee fixes for its customers who use the obsolete operating system.
It is a somewhat similar story with Internet Explorer but with one difference: the older versions of Internet Explorer are buggy and have security nightmares. Microsoft is terminating support of version 8 in January, 2016. I don’t know when version 9 will become unsupported. In my opinion, nobody should be using any version of Internet Explorer. It has proven to have too many security problems for years and years. Better and safer web browsers are available: Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. Pick one. Any of those three is a better choice than Internet Explorer and all of them are also available free of charge.
In the computer world, as in almost everyplace else, nothing lasts forever. Admittedly, things change faster in the computer world than in most other places, but change is inevitable.