Management Overview: Software Strategies
The stability of each Windows Software Release
An enthusiastic programmer will be quite happy to accept software that has a few bugs, and will be keen to play with the leading (and bleeding) edge software as soon as it becomes available. A more conservative organisation, like a bank on the other hand, will take a much more conservative view – will require software of proven quality and stability.
Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) want to use and sell the latest software technologies. This is in contrast to enterprise management, which needs to take a much more conservative view. To ensure stability
The Software version chosen is dependent upon what is deemed to be an acceptable level of risk. In order to obtain the new features, can a company live with the anticipated level of bugs?
Here are my conservative views on the stability and maturity of each Microsoft O/S Software release:
Community Technology Preview (CTP)
This is a preview of the proposed technology. It is a way to get feedback from the technical community, customers and partners during the development of a product.
The Beta Version
The Beta Version is not suitable for general users, and it should never be used in a production environment. Beta Versions are meant only for testing, training or authoring purposes – besides the bugs, the features are subject to change. By the time the Beta 3 version is available, the content should be reasonably firm.
Beta versions have a habit of corrupting older versions (including Beta releases) of the software. Load the Beta version onto a computer that does not contain any work of importance. For each new Beta release, be prepared to reload the Operating System, and start from scratch.
Release Candidate (RC)
The Release Candidate version is more stable than a Beta version – it is unlikely that any new features will be added. Most bugs will have been eliminated, but it is still subject to change. The Release Candidate Version should not be used by the general public, and definitely not in a production environment.
The Go-Live Version
This is a new category of software version. The pre-release can be used in a production environment - but there may still be a few bugs. The "Go-Live" release can be upgraded to the final RTM version.
Official Release – Release to Manufacture (RTM)
This is when all the advertising ballyhoo starts. The product is now fully supported and reasonably stable, but there are still countless things that can go wrong. There could be problems with printers and devices, drivers, upgrading from older operating systems, inadequate hardware, software incompatibilities, etc, etc.
Service Pack (SP)
Due to the pressure for an early software release, a large number of problems usually need correcting in the first Service Pack.
It is a wise manager that will wait until the dust settles, and the feedback and fixes become available.
By the time Service Pack 3 is available, the software will be stable – if you can wait that long. And sometimes there will be no Service Pack 3 at all (let alone a Service Pack 2), as the next newest, shiniest and brightest (and buggy) software creation will be on offer instead.
There is a danger in being too many Versions in arrears. There is a point where it becomes increasingly difficult to bridge the gap. An example would be the conversion of a VB6 suite of routines to VB.Net 2017.
- The VB6 programming language is archaic
- The vast majority of the VB6 software vendors no longer exist
- Vendor Support will be minimal, if available at all
- Windows 10 security updates are likely to invalidate development procedures