Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hello, 2006 called and wants its tech support question back


By David Gewirtz

So, we get reader questions. Every so often we respond by mocking the question, much to the apparent disgruntlement of one or two readers. Sadly, today, we find ourselves in the unenviable position of being forced to mock, yet again.

Today's letter comes from Andy. We'll leave his last name out. Here's what Andy asks:

I've got Outlook 2000 at work and have been unable to sync my Treo 700p calendar with it. Palm Desktop Access is the syncing software. Sometimes when I attempt a sync, only the recurring appointments in the Desktop calendar are left, sometimes all entries on the calendar are deleted. Windows XP is the operating system.

Let's be clear. We got this letter from Andy on 11/23/2010. He even sent it on 11/23/2010. Two thousand ten. And so, the mock must commence.

Office 2000 was released in March of 1999 (back when Microsoft released stuff before the year it was named after). Back in 1999, Bill Clinton was still President. Facebook didn't exist and Mark Zuckerberg was 15 (I know, he still looks 15, but he's not). Almost everyone was using dial-up and AOL was the big kahuna is the ISP world.

It was eleven years ago. Since then, Microsoft has released Office 2003, Office 2007, and Office 2010.

So, let's move on to the Treo. The Treo 700p (wonderful device that it was) was released in 2006. That makes it the baby of our crew. That's before the iPhone. I'll bet you've heard of them there iPhones! That's before Android phones. And, most telling, that's before Palm completely imploded, got bought by HP, and completely and totally discontinued support of Treos, Palm OS handhelds, and the Palm Desktop.

Windows XP is a lovely operating system. Despite Microsoft's best efforts, it won't die. XP has won the hearts and minds of users the world over, but they're old hearts and aging minds. Windows XP was released in 2001 and there have been something on the order of 17 billion patches released for it since that time.

Are you seeing a trend here?

Look, Andy has a wonderful combination of gear. We loved the Treos, we loved XP. Fine, no one loved Outlook 2000.

But the point is that none of this is really supported anymore. We ripped out our last copy of Palm Desktop a few years ago, we haven't run Office 2000 (even in a VM emulation) for a good four or five years, and while we still have some XP installations floating around, they're doing very simple things like serving files.

Andy, it's time to move on. Consider getting an Android phone or an iPhone. Both have rather good Exchange support as well as support for Web-based email environments. I know you don't want to pay a monthly fee for the data access, but you're going to have to.

There's probably no real support left for your configuration and it's only going to get worse with time.

Seriously, buddy, give 2006 its phone back and move on.

P.S. Yes, we know that this stuff could be expensive, but there are Android phones available for as little as $30. You just need to shop around.