Maintaining legacy systems and legacy OS is a common ground across many companies. You feel that the system is working as expected and you see no reason to upgrade it. Maybe the cost to upgrade or even replace seems prohibitive. You also may believe that when the time comes, it can be easily replaced.

You are far from the truth. Here are seven facts about the maintenance of old OS, platforms and applications in a corporate environment.

1. It has a difficult upgrade path

As software becomes older and newer versions come out, It becomes harder to upgrade or replace. Take for example the migration path of an Exchange 2000 server which you want to replace with an Exchange 2013 server. You have to follow a multi-step procedure in which you migrate from Exchange 2000 to Exchange 2003, from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 and finally to Exchange 2013. Too many steps, don’t you think?

2. You lose these new technology advancements

Many things have changed since you bought that system back in 2005. There are newer communication protocols, user interface enhancements, built-in resiliency technology etc. These old applications and OS you maintain, cannot cope with today’s advancements. You are not able to sync you email calendar with your Iphone, you are not able to easily recover from an OS failure or sync your corporate profile across devices.

3. It is not that secure

Most vendors develop more secure and more reliable applications as new versions come out. Take for example the major security issues that existed in Windows NT. It was fairly easy to hack in such system. How much improved in windows 2000? How further improved in Windows 2003 etc.?

4. It is not that stable

I still remember how often that Windows 2000 machine crashed! I had those blue screens, desktop hanged quite often, file system had to be checked regularly for errors. AS newer OS versions came out, system stability significantly improved and auto-recovery functions have been introduced making our business lives simpler.

5. It has hardware Compatibility issues

Newer HW systems do not support that legacy OS you own anymore. That new laptop released in 2013 is not compatible with Windows XP for example; and that server purchased recently does not support Windows Server 2003 anymore.

6. It has software Compatibility issues

Technology advanced the last 9 years and you are still running on that legacy system. Now, you need to install a new ERP application that runs on newer OS only. And yet, that new backup software you need does not support that legacy database platform and that new antivirus system you purchased  is not supported in that old OS.

7. Vendor end-of-support

Old platforms, OS and applications are not supported by the software vendor anymore. Each vendor has a product support lifecycle, meaning that after the end of support, there are no bug fixes, software updates and support personnel to assist you in a troubleshooting situation.


Maintaining legacy systems, OS, platforms and applications can be costly. It doesn’t utilize these useful technology advancements you need, it has compatibility issues, it makes administration harder; and as the time passes by, it is becoming more difficult and more costlier to replace.

There are also certain risks to consider, especially in the case of a hardware failure of a system that host a legacy platform. That failure may trigger a chain of mandatory upgrades that are costly and time consuming. Such case can seriously harm your business.