The insurance industry, perhaps more than any other, has made an art form out of using technology to the fullest–and the longest–squeezing every last drop of life out of even the moldiest hardware and software before finally succumbing to the inevitable upgrade.
Whether it be lumbering mainframes in carrier home offices or dust-encrusted green screens in agency operations, we are dedicated to continuing on with anything that continues to work, however slowly and inefficiently.
Truth be told, that is not necessarily a bad thing. While propeller heads like me see this trend as the frustrating penny-pinching of hopeless Luddites, an equally plausible case could be made that insurance as an industry wants to get the full value out of anything purchased before spending piles of cash to replace systems that took eons to get used to in the first place. There is much to be said for the notion that older technologies still get the job done.
Yet we are so attached to “what works” that the thought of giving it up (flawed as it may be) provokes anxiety. It’s almost as if we have to see an aging computer cough and gasp its last byte, and then explode before our eyes–or witness a software meltdown that destroys every bit of critical data we have–before we will open our wallets and endure the pain of separation, spending and re-training that comes with the installation of newer technologies.
All that brings me to the news that Microsoft has announced that as of this month, it will no longer provide technical support (including security updates) for Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and Windows Me.
Although the Windows 98 operating systems are somewhat outdated by today’s standards, they do not even approach the vintage of many of the mainframes that still exist in many carrier enterprises.
In addition, these OSs continue to be widely used. In fact, Windows 98 may be installed on more computers than all the other OSs combined, according to –an online repository of information on such matters.
Given that trend, it’s not much of a stretch to presume that Windows 98 machines still are operating in a lot of insurance enterprises, as well.
So, why is Microsoft scrapping its support for such a popular line of products? According to the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant, “Microsoft is retiring support for these products because they are outdated and can expose customers to security risks.”